Aleta Baun

Activist Type
Environment, Indigenous Rights

Aleta Baun is an award-winning Indonesian environmental activist who has been described as the Indonesian Avatar. She won the 2013 Goldman Environmental Prize for organizing hundreds of local villagers to peacefully occupy marble mining sites conducting “weaving protests” to stop the destruction of sacred forest land on Mutis Mountain on the island of Timor.

Baun was born to a family of farmers and was raised by other women and elders in the village to respect the environment as the source of their spiritual identity and livelihood. Growing to become a community leader who shared her traditional knowledge, she became known as “Mama Aleta.” Her work made her a target for the mining interests and local authorities, who put a price on her head. After surviving an assassination attempt, Mama Aleta went into hiding in the forest with her baby. Despite intimidation, Mama Aleta grew the movement to include hundreds of villagers, culminating in a weaving occupation of the mines where 150 women spent a year quietly weaving their traditional cloth in protest. In the face of the village protester’s peaceful and sustained presence, marble mining became an increasingly untenable endeavor for the companies involved. By 2010 the mining companies, reacting to the pressure, halted mining at all four sites within the Mollo territories and abandoned their operations. 

Mama Aleta obtained a law degree in 2011 from Universitas Tritunggal Surabaya to help communities across West Timor to map their traditional forests. Her work focuses on supporting water security, natural resource management, and land rights for indigenous people. 

Artwork by
Grace Song

The illustrated portrait of Aleta Baun depicts her wearing a traditional headwrap, set against a vibrant red background of woven fabric. The high contrast, bold lines, and strong features highlight her strength and determination as an award-winning Indonesian environmental activist who fought to protect the environment and her community. The background of the portrait symbolizes the importance of traditional textiles in her culture and the connection to her activism, specifically her role in leading "weaving protests" to protect sacred forest land on Mutis Mountain.

Indonesia

Selman Peace Post Indonesia  Flag
Population
273.8 million
Capital
Jakarta
GDP (PPP)
$12,432
Founded
August 17, 1945
Total Area
1,904,569 km2
Demonym
Indonesian
Government
Unitary presidential constitutional republic
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