A Trial in East Kalimantan: The Benoaq Dayak Resistance

Sandeep Bhusan Ray
47 minutes


This film, shot in Indonesia in 1999, gives us a rare insider's look at the beginnings of democracy during a period of political unrest and economic turmoil throughout the country. On the island of Kalimantan, a Dayak village organizes a sit-in to protest the destruction of their agricultural land and the desecration of sacred funeral sites by a multinational palm oil company. During the sit-in, eleven community leaders are arrested on charges of vandalism. We follow the fates of Petrus Dukung and Benyamin Tawwakng, the two young Dayak leaders, as they face a corrupt political and judicial system. The involvement of human rights lawyers, student groups, and other activists bring the Dayak struggle to the attention of the media. We witness the power of organized demonstrations as activists question their government and voice doubts about the court's commitment to justice.