An Advocacy Approach on Underwater Heritage in Indonesia, Case Study: An auction on underwater heritage from Cirebon waters in 2010

Dublin Core


An Advocacy Approach on Underwater Heritage in Indonesia, Case Study: An auction on underwater heritage from Cirebon waters in 2010


Session 6
Empowerment and relevance in maritime and underwater cultural heritage programs in developing countries


Despite the country’s assertion about its ancient, international history and its diverse culture, there are many cases in Indonesia where some cultural heritage objects are under the threat of ignorance of both the people and the government. Various sites and/or artifacts are damaged or lost due to infrastructure development, or being looted to be sold to some collectors or goes out to some auction houses abroad. A Bill was issued in 1992 to manage this situation, and recently (2011) another bill was issued to put a more severe punishment and to put a more relevant context toward this matter, but so far these seem to be ineffective. No one was ever punished for any crimes regarding this matter. Based on experience mentioned above, an advocacy for the law deemed necessary to preserve and protect the nation’s cultural heritage, including its underwater cultural heritage.

In 2010 treasures were surfaced from a shipwreck on Cirebon waters. The treasure went to an international auction, committed by the government of Indonesia, and actively monitored by the media, activists, and the community in general. The government supported looting and auction could start a through advocacy for preserving and protecting underwater cultural heritage. Some clues include: prohibition for local fishermen to come near the area, permissions improperly issued for international divers around the shipwreck, a Presidential Decree issued against a higher law (Act No. 5 Year 1992 on Cultural Heritage), and the auction itself which disrespects the artifacts status as a cultural heritage.

This experience can become a precedent for advocating a better policy and enforcement toward preserving and protecting underwater cultural heritage, particularly in Indonesia.


Jhohannes Marbun


November 2011



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