UN human rights experts denounce Indonesia’s MotoGP tourism project in Lombok

Mandalika, the coastal resort area where the MotoGP races are set to take place, is located in NTB’s Central Lombok regency. Photo: ITDC
Mandalika, the coastal resort area where the MotoGP races are set to take place, is located in NTB’s Central Lombok regency. Photo: ITDC

UN human rights experts this week denounced Indonesia’s mega tourism project in Mandalika, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), saying that the project, which is closely tied to the world-class MotoGP races, “tramples on human rights.” 

In a statement, UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Olivier de Schutter said that the US$3 billion project on Lombok island has involved aggressive land grabs, forced evictions of Sasak indigenous peoples, along with intimidation and threats against human rights defenders. 

State-owned Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), which oversees the developments of the Mandalika Priority Tourism Zone, has yet to pay any compensation or settle the land disputes, according to the experts. 

“Farmers and fisher folks have been expelled from their land and have endured the destruction of their houses, fields, water sources, cultural and religious sites, as the Government of Indonesia and the ITDC groomed Mandalika to become a ‘New Bali’,” Schutter said. 

This follows concerns raised by Indonesia’s National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) last year, who had urged ITDC to halt the construction of the MotoGP circuit in Mandalika, following reports of land disputes with local residents.

Mandalika, the coastal resort area where the MotoGP races are set to take place, is located in NTB’s Central Lombok regency. The government is developing an enormous tourism complex that includes motorcycle circuits, parks, resorts, and hotels. 

Indonesia signed a deal with Dorna Spots ⁠— the exclusive commercial and television rights holder for MotoGP ⁠— in 2019 to host the world-class motorcycling races for five years. The initial contract has since been extended to 10 years, with the first race initially set to take place this year.

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