Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 January 2015
Challenging conventional wisdom, this article argues that Indonesia — long home to both large-scale transmigration programmes and a range of conflicts — has not witnessed transmigrant conflicts. The vast majority of Indonesian transmigrants were resettled in parts of Sumatra which have remained peaceful. In some conflicts, the role of transmigration has been exaggerated. In others, interethnic violence has involved spontaneous migrants rather than state-led transmigrants. We conclude with a discussion of two potential outliers, where violence has been directed towards transmigrants, but only those from disaster-affected regions who arrived en masse. This article argues for a more nuanced understanding of the distinctions between different forms of internal migration, some of which have the potential to spark future violence in recipient areas and communities.
1 ‘Native’ refers to groups who trace their roots to a given territory to time immemorial, or at least before the arrival of others. It is a broader term than ‘indigenous’, which suggests a more specific identity, perhaps with non-state social formation.
3 This project combined fieldwork carried out by the two co-authors. Shane Barter's fieldwork focused on Aceh. Working for Forum-Asia in 2003–04, he interviewed over 100 Javanese displaced from Aceh to North Sumatra. In 2008–09, he conducted eight months of dissertation fieldwork in Aceh (primarily South Aceh, Aceh Tenggara, Aceh Besar, and Bireuen) where he conducted nearly 150 interviews in various villages, mostly open-ended group interviews with various societal groups (chiefs, ulama, women, minorities). Follow-up interviews were carried out in summer 2014 in Bireuen and Central Aceh.
Fieldwork by Isabelle Côté was conducted in Lampung, Riau, Kepri, and Jakarta from October 2010 to February 2011. It entailed informal and unstructured interviews, conversations, participant observation and general living experience within households. A total of 108 people were interviewed, including 52 elites (e.g. government officials, NGO workers, local scholars), 37 local people (e.g. pensioners, farmers, students), and 19 migrants (both spontaneous and transmigrants).
7 Fearon and Laitin, ‘Sons of the Soil, migrants, and civil war’, p. 200.
9 Isabelle Côté, ‘The enemies within: Targeting Han Chinese and Hui minorities in Xinjiang’, Asian Ethnicity (forthcoming).
11 Eulogia Rodriguez, ‘The economic development of Mindanao’, speech by Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Commerce before the Philippine Council (Manila, 1938), p. 4.
12 Oona Paredes, ‘Indigenous vs. native: Negotiating the place of Lumads in a Bangsamoro Homeland’, Asian Ethnicity (forthcoming).
13 Before 1950, over 50 per cent of land in Mindanao was owned by Muslims; this was reduced to 30 per cent in 1972, and 17 per cent by 1982. Bertrand, Jacques, ‘Peace and conflict in the southern Philippines: Why the 1996 Peace Agreement is fragile’, Pacific Affairs 73, 1 (2000): 44CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
16 Fearon and Laitin, ‘Sons of the Soil, migrants, and civil war’, p. 201.
17 Mochtar Naim, Merantau: Minangkabau voluntary migration (Ph.D. diss., National University of Singapore, 1973).
21 Arndt, ‘Transmigration’: 50.
22 The Republic of Indonesia Law No. 3, 1972 outlined the diverse goals of transmigration: improved living standards, balancing settlement, extracting resources, regional development, security, and national unity.
23 Fearnside, ‘Transmigration in Indonesia’: 555.
24 Interview, Harry Heriawah Saleh, Director General, Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, Jakarta, 1 Feb. 2011.
25 Interview, Harry Heriawah Saleh, Jakarta, 1 Feb. 2011.
27 Interview with Anharudin and Pandiadi, officials at Disnakertrans, Jakarta, 7 Jan. 2011.
29 Arndt, ‘Transmigration’: 65–6.
31 For one NGO, transmigration represented the World Bank's ‘most irresponsible’ project ever, leading to environmental destruction, the loss of indigenous rights, and ethnic conflict. Survival International, cited in Fearnside, ‘Transmigration in Indonesia’: 553.
32 Pain and Benoit, Transmigration and spontaneous migrations in Indonesia, p. 393.
34 Prior to 1998, tensions between local people and transmigrants were allegedly kept from erupting, as ‘they were part of a nation-wide government policy and as such, the local communities had no choice but to apply these policies and facilitate the integration of transmigrants’. Interview with local migration NGO, Jakarta, 30 Jan. 2011.
36 Cited in Elmhirst, Rebecca, ‘Space, identity politics and resource control in Indonesia's transmigration programme’, Political Geography 18 (1999): 816–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar. See, e.g., Guinness, Patrick, ‘Local society and culture’, in Indonesia's New Order: The dynamics of socio-economic transformation, ed. Hill, Hal (Sydney: Allen and Unwin, 1994), pp. 267–304Google Scholar; and Widodo, Amrih, ‘The states of the state: Arts of the people and rites of homogeneisation’, in ‘Performance’, special issue, Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs 29, 1–2 (1995): 1–35Google Scholar. For an important critique of the Javanisation thesis, see Pemberton, John, On the subject of Java (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994)Google Scholar.
40 Cited in Tirtosudarmo, Riwanto, ‘Demography and conflict: The failure of nation-state building project?’, in Violent internal conflicts in the Asia-Pacific: Histories, political economies, and policies, ed. Anwar, Dewi Fortuna et al. (Jakarta: Yayasan Obor, 2004), p. 60Google Scholar.
41 M. Adrana Sri Adhiati and Armin Bobsien, ‘Indonesia's transmigration programme: An update’, Down to Earth, July 2001, pp. 2, 7.
42 Mike Kooistra, ‘Indonesia: Regional conflicts and state terror’ (London: Minority Rights Group, 2001), pp. 3, 5, 13. This said, the same report suggests that Aceh's rebels wrongly targeted Javanese, who were ‘unjustly branded as tools of Suharto's attempt to enforce national unity and Javanese hegemony through social engineering’.
43 This is not to say that there has been no tension or that these regions are not fraught with hidden or non-violent conflict; our concern in this article is with public, coercive violence.
46 Fearnside, ‘Transmigration in Indonesia’: 563.
48 Benoit and Sevin, ‘L'émigration Javanaise’.
50 Lapsley, Tony, ‘East Timor’, in Handbook of markets and economies: East Asia, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, ed. Pecotich, Anthony and Schulze, Clifford J. II (New York: ME Sharpe, 2006), p. 223Google Scholar.
52 Tirtosudarmo, Riwanto, From colonization to nation-state: The political demography of Indonesia (Jakarta: LIPI Press, 2013), p. 166Google Scholar. Despite framing transmigration as part of a military effort to erase East Timorese from their own land, Taylor notes that transmigration in the 1980s was limited to 500 Balinese and 100 East Javanese Christian families. Taylor, Indonesia's forgotten war, p. 124.
53 Bertrand, Nationalism and ethnic conflict in Indonesia, p. 140.
55 Kiernan, Ben, ‘The demography of genocide in Southeast Asia: The death tolls of Cambodia, 1975–79, and East Timor, 1975–80’, Critical Asian Studies 35, 4 (2003): 592CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Silove estimates that 10,000 migrants, both official and spontaneous, came to East Timor. Silove, Derrick, ‘Conflict in East Timor: Genocide or expansionist occupation?’, Human Rights Review 1, 3 (2000): 69CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
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57 Max Gross suggests that in East Timor, as with all Christian areas of Indonesia, Suharto encouraged ‘internal Muslim transmigration’. Gross, Max L., A Muslim archipelago: Islam and politics in Southeast Asia (Washington, DC: National Defense Intelligence College, 2007), p. 119Google Scholar.
58 Riwanto Tirtosudarmo, From colonization to nation-state, p. 162.
59 Geoffrey Robinson, ‘East Timor 1999: Crimes against humanity’, a report commissioned by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (Dili: HAK Association; Jakarta: ELSAM, 2006), p. 121.
60 Miller, Michelle Ann, Rebellion and reform in Indonesia: Jakarta's security and autonomy policies in Aceh (London: Routledge, 2008), p. 190Google Scholar. See Lilianne Fan, ‘The struggle for land rights in post-tsunami and post-conflict Aceh, Indonesia’, Report on land policies and legal empowerment for the poor, World Bank, 2–3 Nov. 2006, p. 5.
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66 Hardjono, ‘Transmigration: Looking to the future’: 31.
67 By 2000, 170,000 of Aceh's 300,000 Javanese resided in East Aceh (mostly in the south around Langsa), 40,000 in Central Aceh, and 20,000 in Singkil. In the Acehnese heartland, fewer than 8,000 Javanese resided in Aceh Besar, Pidie, Bireuen, and North Aceh combined.
69 Interview, Udin, Panglima GAM Aceh Besar, 3 Nov. 2007.
70 Interviews with village chiefs and villagers, Saree, Aceh Besar, Jan.–Feb. 2008.
71 Ramly, Ali Aulia, ‘Modes of displacement during martial law’, in Aceh under martial law: Conflict, violence, and displacement, ed. Hedman, Eva-Lotta, RSC Working Paper 24 (Oxford: Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford, 2005), p. 18Google Scholar.
72 Interviews with anonymous Javanese internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Sei Lapan, North Sumatra, Sept. 2003.
73 Interview, Teungku Abdullah, Saree, Aceh Besar, 28 Jan. 2008.
74 Ethnic Acehnese are spontaneous migrants to Gayo districts in Aceh's interior and Malay districts in the south, their numbers rivalling those of migrant Javanese. On Acehnese migration to Gayo areas, see Bowen, John R., Muslims through discourse: Religion and ritual in Gayo society (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), p. 33Google Scholar.
77 Interview, Abdul Wahab, Imeum Mukim of Gunung Seulawah, Aceh Besar, 1 Nov. 2007.
79 John Saltford, ‘UNTEA and UNRWI: United Nations involvement in West New Guinea during the 1960s’ (Ph.D. diss., University of Hull, 2000), p. 155.
82 Manning and Rumbiak, ‘Irian Jaya: Economic change’, p. 98.
83 McGibbon, ‘Plural society in peril’, p. 23; Stuart Upton, ‘The impact of migration on the people of Papua, Indonesia’ (Ph.D. diss., University of New South Wales, Sydney, 2009), pp. 300–307.
84 McGibbon, ‘Plural society in peril’, p. 23.
85 Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS), Hasil sensus penduduk 2000 [Results population census 2000] (Jakarta: BPS, 2000)Google Scholar; Jim Elmslie, ‘West Papuan demographic transition and the 2010 Indonesian census: Slow motion genocide or not?’, CPACS Working Paper 11/1 (Sydney: Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney, 2010).
87 McGibbon, ‘Plural society in peril’, p. 24.
89 The Papuan population alone consists of 312 tribes, the largest of which are the Lani and Dani/Ndani, inhabiting Papua's densely populated hinterlands, and the Biaks, who inhabit the coastal regions. The composition of Papua's migrants is similarly diverse: 38 per cent from Java, 25 per cent from Sulawesi, 7 per cent from Maluku, and 30 per cent from other regions (including Chinese and Sumatran Bataks). McGibbon, ‘Plural society in peril’, p. 35.
90 Bertrand, Nationalism and ethnic conflict in Indonesia, pp. 93, 152.
91 Chauvel, Richard, ‘Refuge, displacement and dispossession: Responses to Indonesian rule and conflict in Papua’, in Conflict, violence and displacement in Indonesia, ed. Hedman, , p. 150Google Scholar.
92 McGibbon, ‘Plural society in peril’, p. 36.
93 Hardjono, ‘Transmigration: Looking to the future’: 31.
94 Potter, ‘New Transmigration “paradigm” in Indonesia’: 275.
95 Tanasaldy, Regime change and ethnic politics in Indonesia: 189.
96 Li, ‘Ethnic cleansing, recursive knowledge, and the dilemmas of sedentarism’: 365.
97 Davidson, From rebellion to riots, p. 14.
98 Tanasaldy, Regime change and ethnic politics in Indonesia, p. 233.
101 Bertrand, Nationalism and ethnic conflict in Indonesia, p. 122.
102 Goss, ‘Transmigration in Maluku’: 89–91.
104 Badan Pusat Statistik, Hasil sensus penduduk 2000.
106 Several of the candidates running for office during the April 2014 gubernatorial elections were Lampungese, including the newly elected governor Bachtiar Basri, his running-mate M. Ridho Ficardo (on his mother's side), and the first runner-up, Herman HK, the mayor of Bandar Lampung. This is a particularly large representation of a group that comprises only 12 per cent of the provincial population. Côté, Isabelle, ‘Internal migration and the politics of place: A comparative analysis of China and Indonesia’, Asian Ethnicity 15, 1 (2014): 116–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar.
107 Interview with Anshori Djauzal, head of Bunga Mayang, Bandar Lampung, 20 Jan. 2011.
108 Hans Nicholas Jong, ‘Poor ties worsen tensions despite peace accord’, Jakarta Post, 6 Nov. 2012.
109 Jong, ‘Poor ties worsen tensions’.
110 Oyos H.N. Saroso and Slamet Susanto, ‘Lampung locals want Balinese out’, Jakarta Post, 2 Nov. 2012.
112 Indeed, critics have pointed out that the transmigration sites are too remote, overlooking the conflict-preventing logic of this practice.
113 Interview with Pandiadi and Anharudin, officials at Disnakertrans, Jakarta, 7 Jan. 2011.
114 Interview with leader, Bunga Mayang, Bandar Lampung, 20 Jan. 2011.
115 Bertrand, Nationalism and ethnic conflict in Indonesia, p. 93. Along with this, Bertrand also notes the importance of ethnoreligious differences.
116 For more on the concept of ‘dominant migrants’, see Isabelle Côté, ‘Unsettling migrants? The impact of internal migration on Sons of the Soil conflict in China and Indonesia’ (Ph.D. diss., University of Toronto, 2014).
117 Interview with leader, Majelis Puyimbang Adat Lampung, Bandar Lampung, 11 Jan. 2011, and a sociology professor, Universitas Lampung, Bandar Lampung, 14 Jan. 2011.
118 Interview, unofficial leader, Lampung Sai, Bandar Lampung, 13 Jan. 2011.
119 Interview, Sugiarto Sumas, Director of Community Participation, Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration, Jakarta, 1 Feb. 2011.