Embargoed: 16 April 2013, 07.00 WIB
Fighting for Ancestral Land, Aleta Ba’un Wins Goldman Environmental Prize 2013
Jakarta, 16 April 2013 – The Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) warmly welcomes the conferment of Goldman Environmental Prize 2013 on Aleta Ba’un, known as Mama Aleta, a member of AMAN’s National Council (DAMANAS) representing Bali and Nusa Tenggara region.
Mama Aleta was selected by an international jury committee from confidential nominations submitted by a worldwide group of environmental organizations and individuals. She accepted the award herself in a ceremony held in San Francisco Opera House, USA on Monday, 15 April 2013 at 5 pm (Tuesday, 07.00 WIB).
Goldman Environmental Prize is awarded annually to environmental heroes, one from each of the six geographic regions.
“I am excited since Mama Aleta deserves this prize. She is an indigenous woman who becomes a leader and chooses to mobilize women in a male-dominated social structure. Mama Aleta has successfully mobilized Indigenous Peoples of Mollo to believe in ritual power again as means to unite the fights of indigenous peoples and their ancestors. One of their fights is against the development aggression in the form of marble mining. I thank the Goldman Family as well because this is the third time for indigenous leaders of the archipelago to win the Goldman Environmental Prize. Previously, the late Loir Botor Dingit – Para of Indigenous Peoples of Dayak Bentian in Borneo – won the prize in 1997 and Yosepha Alomang – of Indigenous Peoples of Amungme, Papua Barat– in 2001,” explained Secretary-General of AMAN Abdon Nababan.
Mama Aleta holds a significant role to maintain the identity and dignity of Indigenous Peoples of Mollo in the foothill of Mount Mutis, Nusa Tenggara Timur province. Their land, during its prosperous time, grows areca nuts, fruit trees (such as orange, mango and jackfruit), potatoes, traditional medicines plants, vegetables and a kind of eucalyptus. Her desire is simple – her community will not lose their food sources, identity and culture.
The livelihood of The Mollo is closely related to natural resources they treat as sacred. They find their foods and medicines in the forest, plant on fertile land and harvest natural dyes they need to weave.
The persistence of Mama Aleta – born in Lelobatan, Mollo on 16 March 1963 – to fight for her ancestral land, build solidarity and inspire farmers and indigenous peoples, especially indigenous women, has awarded her the Goldman Environmental Prize 2013.
“We are grateful to have a mother from Timor Mountains as the pride of Indonesia. This prize is an appreciation for the struggles of all women farmers and Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago whom Mama Aleta represents as the heroine of cultural defense, sustainable livelihood as well as natural conservation and management. It turns out that her fighting is recognized by the wide environmental movement,” said Antoinette G. Royo, the executive director of Samdhana Institute that nominated and suggested Mama Aleta for Goldman Environmental Prize.
The fight of Mama Aleta began in the 1990s, when mining and forest industries started invading Mount Anjaf and Mount Nausus for marbles.
For peoples of Timor, those rocks are known as name rocks. Names of all Clans are engraved on those rocks. Once name rocks are gone, so are the identities of Timor’s peoples.
The fight of Mama Aleta and Indigenous Peoples of Mollo for the last eleven years showed result in 2007, when the mining operation there being stopped. Mama Aleta peacefully occupied the marble mining during an action called as “Protesting While Weaving”. Destruction of the sacred forest of Mount Mutis, Timor island can thus be prevented.
Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1989 by several civic leaders, including Richard and Rhoda Goldman from San Francisco. Aside of Mama Aleta, Goldman Environmental Prize 2013 is awarded to Jonathan Deal (South Africa), Azzam Alwash (Iraq), Rossano Ercolini (Italy), Kimberly Wasserman (USA) and Nohra Padilla (Colombia).
Abdon Nababan, Secretary-General of AMAN
Mobile phone: (62) 0811111365
Antoinette G. Royo, Executive Director of Samdhana Institute