Written by Burhanudin
Symposium on the indigenous peoples leadership for the next generation took place on Thursday (16/03). Elisa Kissya (68) from Haruku Island, Minahasa as the speaker. Elisa is well known poet, she frequently shares about her experiences in struggling for indigenous community rights and calling on people to preserve the ocean ecosyste through her poems. For her, poetry and poem are the most useful tool to rise the spirit of struggle of indigenous peoples. A quote from one of her poems; “going to school by city bus, my teacher is Hartono, has been wandering to city, never see local wisdom outdated”
In her view, it is better for indigenous peoples to begin environment preservation efforts with small steps. “I conducted creativities from some small matters. I planted of mangrove, rescued a turtle and the others from the sea ecosystem. I also motivate people through poems,” he said loudly, expressing her unexhausted spirit.
In relation to environment struggle, she frequently talked about the social situation of indigenous community in areas which maintain strong local law and wisdom. “In my community, there is gathering every week, in case there is certain members who can not take part, they will be picked forcedly”, she specifies.
The symposium took place for about 30 minutes. It was interspersed by discussions from youth. “Being a leader, you must be wise”, was Elisa’s motivation closing words.
The following speaker was General Secretary of Badan Perjuangan Rakyat Penunggu (BPRPI) Medan, Alfi Syahri. He reviewed their experiences in fighting for villages against claims from palm oil companies.
His village is claimed by a company for palm oil area of Tanjung Gusta, North Sumatra. “We were beaten for breakfast. In the New Order, the military besieged and beat us every morning when we gathered,” he said. He also expressed some important points to remain consistent when conducting the struggle for customary lands.
In his view history is important. “Why do we remain? It because we have history. Just like Soekarno who also recognises the importance of history. Never forget history and let us pass down our history to our next generation,” he asked of the participants.
Moreover, he also hoped the youth would keep their spirit and unite in fighting for their rights. He hopes young people will be consistent in conducting their regeneration and struggle for the heritage of their ancestors.