Sub-Commission on Prevention of
Discrimination and Protection
of Minorities
Forty-seventh session
Agenda item 8

Statement of International Educational Development

Skip to United States \ Moluccas.
International Educational Development welcomes the final report of Special Rapporteur Sachar on the right to housing. (E/CN.4/Sub.2./1995/12). We think that this report represents a new high in quality for reports of its kind and should greatly assist in the realization of the right to housing and the alleviation of homelessness. IED particularly takes note of the strengths of its analyses and in the scope of its recommendations.

The comprehensive recommendations for states, which provides a working blue print for the realization of housing rights, should be taken to heart by all states -- developed or developing alike. In seeing such a reasonable list of what states ought to do, we are saddened that the United States falls far below this standard.

The United States, by most estimates, has the highest figure of homelessness of the developed countries. It is not surprising that other social indicators -- maternal and infant health, adequate psychiatric care, primary and secondary education, other social services, serious economic gaps by racial and ethnic minorities, and Indian health services also show serious deficits. What is so shocking about homelessness in America is that at the national, regional, state and local level there is barely any planning for its alleviation. Indeed, if we were to comment on how the United States performs regarding all the sound and necessary strategies to realize housing rights at the State level set out in paragraphs 157 - 178 of the report we would have to honestly say that the United States carries out none of them in any useful manner.

While non-fulfillment is deeply troubling in the United States, serious attacks on the economic, social and cultural rights of people occur in other areas. Usually these attacks are motivated by attempts to displace of subdue if not subjugate peoples for political purposes. Such is the case in Maluku (the Moluccas). The government of Indonesia, from the perspective of documented agreements and its original constitution (not to mention agreements made to the UN), has no claim to the Moluccas, It nonetheless invaded and has occupied the area against the wished of the people since the early 1950s. Since that time, Indonesian has carried out overt strategies to undermine the economic, social and cultural bases of Moluccan society. For example, traditional Moluccan village leaders (the radjas) are replaced with Indonesian (usually Javanese) so-called leaders. The villages (negeri) suffer social disintegration.

Indonesia also uses a strategy of transfer of Javanese people into Moluccan areas -- a kind of ethnic dilution. The Javanese are given the jobs, so Moluccans are increasingly unemployed or underemployed. Control over their own economic, social and cultural affairs undergoes further erosion. Another economic strategy has been the disruption of the traditional Moluccan harvest of tjenkeh -- the spice that gives the Moluccas the nick- name "spice islands." The Indonesian government has brought in its own methods which have greatly reduced tjenkeh harvests, further weakening Moluccan economic viability. Because of dramatic incursions of Javanese into Maluku in the past 15 years, Moluccan youth are increasingly unemployed with no life-prospects and no education. As is the case in occupied Tibet, Moluccans may soon be a minority in their own land.

The land also becomes part of a strategy for economic erosion of Moluccans and a vehicle for their ethnic dilution and oppression. Indonesia confiscates the lands of Moluccans and turns them over to the transmigrant people. At the same time, the Indonesian authorities carry out programs of family planning, especially forced sterilization or forced contraception that has further reduced the Moluccan population.

IED/HLP is convinced that the situation in the Moluccas warrants the attention of this Sub-Commission, especially because of the implications for Maluku of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States.

IED/HLP also wishes to comment briefly on the second progress report of Mr. Leandro Despouy on extreme poverty. (U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1995/15). The Rapporteur has provided a list on p. 7 of his report of factors regarding extreme poverty that he hopes to address more fully in his final report. There in one phenomena that he perhaps touched on in paragraph 20, point (e) that we wish to emphasize -- actions taken by states to undermine the economic viability of groups as a weapon in ethnic or political conflict. Above we mentioned the situation in the Moluccas where the Indonesian authorities appear to actively seek the impoverishment of the Moluccan people. While on the one hand, extreme poverty may be the result of patterns of neglect, even benign neglect, some extreme poverty is purposely created for political reasons. We encourage the Rapporteur to look into this phenomena in Indonesia and other areas. We also recommend to the Rapporteur material on poverty and children prepared by UNICEF, especially UNICEF's annual reports The Progress of Nations. Finally we wish to thank the Rapporteur for the work already undertaken and his diligence and commitment to the task. We are convinced that the final report will be, as it needs to be, provocative in its dissertation and creative yet practical in its recommendations.