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The Dayak Meratus
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The Dayak Meratus
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Indonesia's Dayak Meratus communities have created co-operatives and developed business institutions that protect their resources. However, the encroachment of private businesses on the local forest threaten their way of life and have forced them to respond in the best way they can: collectively.
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Directed by Paul Redman.

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.

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Segment 1

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The Dayak Meratus, Kalimantan, Indonesia
ANDY SYAHRUJI [Chairman of Permada Youth Group]
According to our ancestors, our life is dependent on nature. Like a son and his mother the land is our life and the forests are a part of that. We can't be separated from the forest of Meratus. It would end our way of life. The Dayak Meratus is part of nature and the sacred forest.
JULAK [Farmer and Owner of Rubber Garden]
With the money I earn I buy sugar, fish, salt, and clothing or equipment for the house. This is all possible because of the rubber. The rest of the money I save in the CU [credit union]. This is my saving for when I cannot work anymore.
YASIR ALFATAH [LPMA]
LPMA was established in 1998 and works on strengthening indigenous people, especially the Dayak Meratus in South Kalimantan. Without our economic program here we helped to establish two community institutions in Dayak Meratus. The first of these is the CU or Credit Union.
SIGN
Credit Union Bintang Karnatika Meratus (CU BKM). Desa Hinas Kiri Kec. Batang Alai Timur Kab. HST Kalimantan Selatan
JULIADE [Credit Union Manager]
The CU can be called a community movement. How are you?
JULAK
Nothing but good.
JULIADE
CU refuse applications from members who want to buy chainsaws for illegal logging activities. The CU is more interested in giving farmers loans for seeds, as this helps to develop their income.
YASIR ALFATAH
The second institution is the KDA or Kesatuan Dayak Alai, an institution for rubber farmers in the Hulu Sungai Tengah District.
MIDO [KDA]
Before we formed the KDA here, we lost a lot of money through middlemen buying our non-timber forest products like rubber. So this is proof that if we stay together, the community can resolve their problems.
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This unity of the Dayak Meratus faces an increasingly difficult future.
ZONSON MASRI [Chairman of Permada, South Kalimantan]
"Indigenous is nothing," they say. "It's the permit that exists." So there are no indigenous rights.
ANDY SYAHRUJI
The people will lose their rights because the companies come and take over the land. Like the oil-palm companies where there is absolutely no positive impact for the people.
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The government of Indonesia regularly ignores indigenous land claims.
ZONSON MASRI
In the past, before Indonesian independence, the Dayak were already here. So it's clear when we talk about the earth or trees we talk about indigenous rights.
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The Dayak depend on a variety of plant species to sustain their livelihoods.
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But companies are converting their land into large, single species plantations.
ZONSON MASRI
The Dayak, if not disturbed, will not disturb: that is our principle. We are disturbed right now so we must move forward and take the risk to fight for our people in the villages.
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The Dayak are now developing a political voice to give their ancient culture a chance of surviving.
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If their culture is destroyed it will mirror that of the forests they inhabit.
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[end credits]