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Aleta Baun

Aleta Baun: Timorese Women Fighters for Humanity and the Environment

Editor’s Note: International Women’s Day which is commemorated every March 8, becomes the momentum of reflection for all women. This news has been published on January 26, 2017 and titled “For her persistence in declining mining in NTT, Aleta Baun Wins Human Rights Award”. The Editor appraise the record of Aleta’s achievements in her struggle is important to republished in order to be a point of reflection for NTT women and even the world to reaffirm their existence on this Earth.

Jakarta, Vox NTT-Aleta Baun or known as ‘Mama Aleta’ has been awarded as an environmental and human rights fighter from the Yap Thiam Hien Foundation, an institution that operates in the field of human rights enforcement.

Previously, the woman who was born in Lelobatan, March 16, 1966 was awarded Goldman Environmental Prize in 2013 for his services in the field of nature conservation.

Mama Aleta got the Goldman Environmental Prize 2013 in a special ceremony at the San Francisco Opera House, United States, on Monday, April 15, 2013.

The award was again pinned on her for her persistence in fighting for the environment from the mining in  Mollo, Timor Tengah Selatan, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).

In a speech representing the jury, Yosep Adi Prasetyo, said the recipients of Yap Thiam Hien Award are individuals, groups or institutions that are active in defending and promoting human rights.

“In the year of 2016, the jury established Aleta Baun from Mollo, NTT as the winner of Yap Thiam Hien Award 2016,” said Adi Prasetyo, at National Museum, Jakarta, Wednesday (25/01/2017).

With her perseverance and courage, continued Adi Prasetyo, Aleta Baun became a role model and leader of a movement to save nature, save human dignity, save the environment and human rights from the rush of industrialized commercialism, from the rush of greed and business greed .

“We assume  that Mama Aleta has a remarkable achievement because she was successful to transform the  movement which is actually came from the individual movement, then she can transfer to the surrounding community, to also be involved in the movement to resist marble mining,” he said.

Mama Aleta  has cleverly used a nonviolent approach to awaken citizens’ awareness of their natural sustainability.

Mama Aleta’s Pace

Most of the Mollo people, Timor Tengah Selatan District (TTS), East Nusa Tenggara, believe their ancestors came from rocks, wood, and water. These three elements become a symbol of the clan and dignity for the local people.

Therefore, they are disturbed when the area is threatened by mining. One of the Mollo people who stood in the front guard is Aleta Baun or often called Mama Aleta. Baun’s clan is taken from the element of water.
Aside from being a housewife, Aleta Baun is also known as the leader of Mollo indigenous movement against the arrogance of mining companies that damage their life and livelihood.

Aleta Baun in a frame with the Minister of the Environment, Minister of Manpower and the Jury

In  her speech, Aleta Baun said that many steps have been taken to expel mining companies from Mollo land.

“The struggle takes time and long energy ” he said in front of the audience.
She mentioned, for 13 years, with her organizational group fighting hard against the rulers and businessmen who destroyed the environment in the Mollo area, TTS.

“I am the child of an Amaph (king), but I am a woman. According to custom I have no right to speak out and have no right to be a leader. But I can not stay silent, I lead the fight against mining. We, men and women must struggle to save our bodies, “said Aleta Baun who was applauded by the audience.

“Our bodies, customs are our weapons to fight, because that is what bound us with our ancestors and nature,” he shouted loudly.

On that occasion, Aleta Baun thanked the Yap Thiam Hien Foundation for giving the award.

“I am happy, because I am appreciated. My work is ultimately rewarded by others. It’s a tribute to people who have struggled with me. But, on the other hand this award ia also as a motivation for me and the community to continue to fight against injustice, fight for and defend the rights of society, “she said.

Furthermore, mama Aleta said, the struggle is not in the form of violence. However, she prioritizes in the form of peaceful action, putting forward dialogue, through customary approaches and communicating politely but firmly.

“Our struggle is in the form of peaceful action, do not want to hurt people’s heart but we want to convey our hearts according to our character as Mollo community, because we work to find peace,” she concluded.

Present on the occasion, the Minister of Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya who attended representing President Jokowi, Minister of Employment Hanif Dhakiri, Chief of Staff of the President, Teten Masduki, as well as several members of the House of Representative and Regional Representative council of Indonesia.

Also attending were all the Jury Council of Yap Thiam Hien Award 2016 consisting of Todung Mulya Lubis (Chairman of Yap Thiam Hien Foundation), Makarim Wibisono (former Ambassador / Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the UN in Geneva), Sandra Hamid (Director of The Asia Foundation), Zumrotin K. Susilo (Female and Child Activist) and Yosep Adi Prasetyo (Chairman of the Press Council).

Author: Ervan Tou

Translator: Rini Kartini/HOS

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