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.

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,

KOMNAS HAM (National Human Rights Commission)
Jl. Latuharhary No. 4B Menteng
Jakarta Pusat 10310
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,

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,

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.


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