Halmahera, Indonesia, an island of around 180,000 people in the northern Molucca province. Here we fight to preserve the fundamental rights inherited from the ancestors and for the rights on the land. There are not everyone’s fights because, of course, as often on our planet, modernity has caught up and is disrupting everyday life. The society is torn between traditions and thirst for modernism. I have met Afrida there. She is the only Indonesian woman in charge of local communities fighting for the preservation of indigenous rights. It is often a question of property rights on the land in order to continue to practice hunting by accessing the forest, to practice fishing by accessing healthy rivers, to access the land to practice artisanal gold mining, or even keep land in order to benefit from food self-sufficiency.
When multinationals minings companies obtain operating licenses to mine nickel, what becomes the inhabitants deprived of their land despite their financial compensation ? Some remain there and resist to keep their property, they are sometimes arbitrarily imprisoned. Others leave their homes to go and live elsewhere because the soils and rivers are now polluted by industry, making any form of cultivation impossible. The hunters-gatherers no longer have access to the forest and the animals are becoming rarer due to the disturbance of their environment …
When a multinational obtains the rights to exploit the gold contained in the basements, what becomes of the populations which always exploited in an artisanal way this resource? Not without difficulty, at night, they smuggled onto this property, avoiding the guards, where they had practiced traditional gold panning in the past. In neighboring villages artisanal gold panning chains continue to operate. Gold collected with bare hands is collected by a wholesaler or directly sold by locals. The proceeds from the resale fuel the economy of villages and families.
Whether during the fervor of a Protestant mass or in front of television broadcasting uninteresting European programs, the question of choice is omnipresent, it arises again and again, and remains in abeyance. Have local populations really been faced with a choice ? Are they consciously in control of their destiny or are they involuntarily subjected to a constraint imposed by the actors of globalization ?