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Indonesia: Protest napalm bomb attack on farmers' settlement!

By Papernas (National Liberation Party of Unity, Indonesia)

December 18, 2008 -- About 1000 thugs sent by PT Arara Abadi and directly led by 500 police, under Riau regional police commander Alex Mandalika, unsparingly attacked, destroyed and burned houses using napalm bombs in Suluk Bongkal village, Riau Province, Indonesia. A two-year-old girl died in the attack.

The attackers said the villagers were newcomers who must be evicted. They were also falsely accused of having ilegally cleared state-owned forest. According to our information, Suluk Bongkal village has been legally acknowledged in the state map made after the Dutch cooperated with the Siak kingdom (around 1940), and in 1959 (after independence) the area was designated as customary rights forest (for Sakal tribe); Suluk Bongkal was included in it. Suluk Bongkal villagers have lived peacefully with the other citizens and surrounding tribes.

This peaceful livelihood stopped when the forestry ministry in 1996 that gave management rights for industrial farming to PT Arara Abadi. Since then, the company has tried to evict the villagers by using terror, thuggery and armed violence. The company and the villagers have been in constant conflict, with the local government and the police often taking the side of the company in oppressing the citizens.

To evict the residents of Suluk Bongkal village, who hold the legal customary land ownership, PT Arara Abadi sent hundreds of police and thugs to herd them by force, while two helicopters burned their abandoned houses. In a few minutes, 700 houses were in flame. Heavy machinery was brought in after to clear the rubble and level the ground. Dozens of peasants, members of the Riau Peasant Union (STR), including a left-wing legislative candidate (Antony Fitra) in the 2009 election, were arrested. The police and thugs are still hunting down peasants and activists. The incident has been suppressed by the Indonesian media.

This film documents PT Arara Abadi's militia attack on Mandi Angin village, Riau Province, on July 2 and 17, 2008.

It is a hundred years since the peasant community first settled in Suluk Bongkal. Hundreds of peasant families have lived in Suluk Bongkal area for a hundred years. In 1991, government issued land certificates for each village. In 1996, Arara Abadi corporation, a company that supplies raw materials to Indah Kiat Pulp and Paper, Sinar Mas Group (one of the largest business conglomerates in Indonesia), was given the rights to control the land. Since that day, Arara Abadi not only has control over the Suluk Bongkal area, but also 100,000 hectares of land in Riau Province, making peasants landless.

In mid-2007, the peasants affiliated to the Riau Peasent Union (STR) and succeed in reclaiming the land. Since then, 800 people have been living in that reclaimed area of Suluk Bongkal.

The latest incident began when police tried to arrest Riza Zuhelmy, STR chairperson, and the masses tried to protect their leader. Police sent in other troops to manage the situation and arrested 10 peasants. Unable to control the situation, helicopters flew over and dropped a napalm bomb on the peasants' settlement. Police troops fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the peasants. The situation turned into panic. Hundreds of peasants were arrested. A child aged two years, six months in fear into the jungle. She was later found dead, having fallen into a well.

After the peasants had been dispersed, bulldozers came to clear the ruins, and soon after hired thugs occupied the land.

The Riau Peasent Union filed a land dispute case between people and Arara Abadi corporation with the provincial administration in 2007. On May 15, 2007, the ministry of forestry said that people who had been living there before 1996 (the year of the Arara Abadi land concession) may stay and the area should be excluded from concession area.

Jhony Nelsen Simanjutak from the National Commission of Human Rights found indications of human rights violations in relation to the conflict between the people and Arara Abadi in three subdistricts. The commission is now asking for information from 100 victims.

Please help the farmers in their struggle for land rights, send your protest letters to:

PT Arara Abadi: fax +62 21 761 91320

National Human Rights Commission:

Mr. Ifdhal Kasim,

Chairperson,

KOMNAS HAM (National Human Rights Commission)

Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng

Jakarta Pusat 10310

Indonesia.

Fax +62 21 3151042/3925227; phone +62 21 3925230 email info@komnasham.or.id


Police headquarters, Riau Province: phone +6276120084; Alex Mandalika (Dir Reksrim Polda Riau) by text message/SMS +62 812 - 6201 -962.

Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri, Chief of National Police,

Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3,

Jakarta Selatan,

Indonesia.

Fax +62 21 720 7277; phone +62 21 721 8012; email polri@polri.go.id

Indonesian government:

Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudoyono

President, Republic of Indonesia,

Presidential Palace,

Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara,

Jakarta Pusat 10010,

Indonesia.

Fax + 62 21 231 41 38, 345 2685, 345 7782; phone + 62 21 3845627 ext 1003; eail: presiden@ri.go.id

Send the solidarity letters to:

Papernas@yahoo.com, serikat.tani.riau@gmail.com

Please visit http://papernas-international.blogspot.com for updates.

LMND National Executive condemns police burning of 700 citizens' houses in Bengkalis, Riau

By National Students' League for Democracy (LMND)

December 19, 2008 -- On Thursday (18/12/08), two helicopters flew in circle and used napalm, the kind used by the US troops in Vietnam, against farmers' settlement in Dusun Solok Bongkal, Beringin Village, Sub-District Pinggir, Bengkalis, Riau. In seconds, about 700 citizens' houses were burnt down, along with the farming lands, productive tools, and furniture that could not be saved by their owners. Furthermore, about a thousand thugs and five hundreds armed police personnel were deployed to evict the citizens. Police opened fire not only to scare the citizens, but also aimed at them, so that two citizens were shot. Ironically, a toddler named Fitri (2 y.o.) was so frightened that she fell into a well and died. During the incident, about 200 citizens were arrested and detained at Mandau Police station, and about 400 more are hiding in the forest of Kampung Dalam, while surrounded by hundreds of police and thugs who hunt them like outlaws. Apparently, the Indonesian Police cooperation with the US military results in the former's use of napalm in a scorched earth against people's houses.

This inhuman and brutal act was carried out by the state apparatus, that is the The Police of the Republic of Indonesia, whose shoelaces were bought by money from the people. In the meantime, the police and a thousand of thugs evicted citizens without carrying any court's order, only an order (obviously with bribes) by a company, PT Arara Abadi. How can police serve the Law, if they easily ignore the Law to please big businesses?

According to the permit given by the government, PT Arara Abadi only holds management right, instead of ownership right, of the forest in the location. But in the development, PT Arara Abadi claimed ownership of the land, while the government turned a blind eye; therefore the affiliate of Sinar Mas Group has tried to evict the citizens many times, including sending thugs to do it. In reality, the five thousand hectares of land is under the settlers' customary/indigenous right (tanah ulayat), which historically has been recorded in formal documents; the majority of citizens own the proves of ownership of that land.

It is an unwritten law in this country that the government will always serve big businesses, and its apparatus (the Police and the Court) will be the protector aka uniformed thugs of their corporations. Similar incidents have happened for a long period of time in almost the entire country, but there has been no will by the parliament (DPR) or any other institution to investigate them.

With the incident in Bengkalis, Riau, we affirm that anti-thug campaign being promoted by the new Police Chief is simply a lie. It is impossible to eradicate thuggery (premanisme) if it is so closely attached to the existing police institution. Police's slogan "the protector, nurturer, at the service of the society" has been translated into a number of acts of violences against the civilians. The people do not see the Police as their protector but instead the enemy that violate their political and democratic rights, as well as their right to live.

Therefore, the National Executives of the National Students' League for Democracy (EN-LMND) declared

1. To condemn the Indonesian Police (POLRI) that have committed acts of violence through the use of napalm to burn down settlements, shot and arrested hundreds of Bongkal Suluk citizens. We demand that the Police Chief shows his consistency in fighting thuggery and improves the image of the Indonesian Police by dismissing, bringing to court and imposing severe punishment to all his personnel involved in the incident;

2. To demand the national Police Chief to dismiss Riau Regional Police Chief and bring Alex Mandalika - Riau Police Reskrim - to the Human Rights Court for leading the act of violence.

3. Freeze PT Arara Abadi activities by cancelling its business permit, and arresting and bringing to court the company's management; Revoke the Ministry of Forestry Decision Letter (SK no.743/Kpts-II/1996)

4. Return the entire land that belongs to Suluk Bongkal Citizens' customary rights; rehabilitate their houses and provide compensation to all losses of their productive tools and farming lands.

5. Release without any condition 200 detained activists and citizens;

6. Demand that the National Human Right Commission (Komnas HAM) conducted field investigation on the gross violation of Human Rights carried out by the Police and PT Arara Abadi;

Democracy and welfare, now!

Jakarta, 19 December 2008

Form Students' Council, Fight for Genuine Democracy

Lalu Hilman Afriandi
Chairperson

Agus Priyanto
Secretary General

 

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