Home News Regional law in Indonesia’s West Sumatra hit for being discriminatory

Regional law in Indonesia’s West Sumatra hit for being discriminatory

The Mentawai people have been calling on authorities to revise the law and recognize their tradition and culture

The United Mentawai Alliance (AMB), a group of mostly Christian organizations in Indonesia’s West Sumatra province, decried a new regional law that they described as discriminatory of the indigenous people in the region.

The West Sumatra Provincial Administration recently passed the Undang-Undang (UU, or Regional Law) No 17 that states, among others that “West Sumatra Province has its local characteristic Minangkabau traditions and culture based on local values.”

The AMB, however, said the statement is “discriminatory” because it does not recognize the Mentawai people, their culture and traditions.



“What we want to do is to bring this discriminative law into a national discourse so that our existence as Mentawai people with our own culture and tradition be recognized by the law and the State,” said Yosafat Saumanuk, chairman of AMB.

The group has earlier asked authorities in the Mentawai Islands Regency DPRD to move on the revision of the law at the Indonesian House of Representatives.

“The purpose of this request is for the recognition of Mentawai community entities that are different from Minangkabau customs,” said Saumanuk.

Yosep Sarogdok, chairman of the Mentawai DPRD, said he “appreciates the aspirations and concerns” of the AMB, and “hopes that there will be additional points in the law” for the Mentawai cultural entities to be accommodated.

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West Sumatra, or the Sumbar Province, has two indigenous peoples groups with their respective cultures and traditions — the Minang people with their Minangkabau tradition and the Mentawai people.

The Minangkabau is an indigenous ethnic group of Indonesia, known to be the natives of Sumatra and famous for their long-held matrilineal tradition, or matriarchaat (from the Dutch). The Minangkabau (in short Minang) are also known for their devotion to Islam.

The Mentawai, meanwhile, are the native of the Mentawai Islands who were Christianized through the years.

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