Indonesia’s mega-tourism project ‘tramples’ on human rights, UN says
BANGKOK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A tourism mega-project on the Indonesian island of Lombok has uprooted local and indigenous people and destroyed homes, fields, rivers and religious sites, rights experts have said UN man.
The Mandalika, located in the province of Nusa Tenggara West of Lombok, includes a Grand Prix motorcycle circuit, hotels and a golf course, and is part of the â10 New Balisâ strategy proposed by President Joko Widodo in 2016 to increase tourism income.
In developing the 2 hectare (5 acre) site, “local residents have been subjected to threats and intimidation, and forcibly evicted from their lands without compensation,” said Olivier De Schutter, UN Special Rapporteur on the extreme poverty and human rights.
The companies and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) that funded the ongoing project failed to do due diligence “to identify, prevent, mitigate and report on how they are dealing with negative impacts on human rights, âhe said in a statement.
The AIIB said its operations followed its environmental and social guidelines, responded “promptly” to complaints about the project, and commissioned an independent consultant to engage with the Indonesian government, businesses and local residents.
“The final report found no evidence of the alleged coercion, direct use of force and intimidation related to land acquisition and resettlement,” he said in a statement. Thursday evening.
AIIB and the National Tourism Development Corporation in Indonesia (ITDC) agreed on an action plan “to improve stakeholder engagement … with project affected people, village chiefs and local authorities, and more broadly with civil society and the population in general. from Lombok, âhe added.
ITDC and the Mandalika Grand Prix Association, both involved in the development of Mandalika, did not respond to requests for comment.
Globally, there is a growing awareness – and backlash against – of the negative impacts of tourism, including environmental damage and destruction of neighborhoods as local residents are excluded.
The poorest countries of Southeast Asia are particularly ill-equipped to limit the “invisible burden” of overtourism, according to a 2019 report by the charity The Travel Foundation in Britain.
After the coronavirus pandemic devastated the tourism-dependent economies of islands such as Bali in Indonesia and Phuket in Thailand, authorities are prioritizing hospitality workers for vaccines to attract foreign tourists – a decision criticized by human rights groups.
The Mandalika has been touted by authorities as essential for creating jobs and improving livelihoods in the impoverished province, but human rights activists say the project – like many other tourism developments – has hurt the most indigenous people.
“Indigenous peoples have no legal protection on their lands and are not consulted or involved in decision-making on these projects that do not benefit them,” said Rukka Sombolinggi, secretary general of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the archipelago (AMAN).
“The government is keen to attract investors in industry, mining and tourism to revive the economy, but these are bogus solutions that harm indigenous people and also have a significant environmental impact,” she said. at the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Mandalika’s development “tramples human rights (and) is fundamentally incompatible” with the concept of sustainable development, said De Schutter.
âThe time has passed for massive transnational tourism infrastructure projects that benefit a handful of economic actors rather than the population as a whole,â he added.
Instead, governments keen to build back better after COVID-19 “should focus on empowering local communities”, improving livelihoods and enabling their participation in decision-making, he said. .
Report by Rina Chandran @rinachandran; Edited by Michael Taylor. Please mention the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit news.trust.org