Indonesia: land rights defender arrested while opposing land clearanceEvent
- Initial Date
- Apr 21, 2022
- Event Description
A resident in Labuan Bajo was arrested by officers from the Resort Police [Polres] of West Manggarai Regency, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Thursday (21/4) while trying to block an attempt to clear a road for the National Strategic Project [PSN].
Paulinus Jek, the name of the resident, is a member of the Racang Buka Community. He was arrested for trying to block an excavator when the eviction arrived at his teak plantation.
The Racang Buka Community is one of three groups of residents in Labuan Bajo whose land was allegedly taken by the Implementing Agency for the Labuan Bajo Flores Authority [BPOLBF] for the tourism business.
The road that passes through his garden will open access to an area of 400 hectares in the Bowosie Forest which will later become a project site by the Tourism Authority of Labuan Bajo Flores [BPOLBF] to be developed into a tourism business area.
Together with other residents of the Racang Buka Community, Paulinus has tried to resist the eviction. This is because they have controlled and resided in the area since 1999. They have made various efforts to gain recognition from the state.
However, their efforts went unanswered, and the eviction for the opening of the road was carried out on Thursday, April 21 under the guard of about 50 police and several members of the TNI. There are officers wearing official uniforms, some wearing civilian clothes while carrying long-barreled weapons.
Paulinus's arrest began with his shouting so that the teak trees would not be evicted.
"Don't evict my teak. Don't," he said, pointing and walking towards the excavator.
His scream was then followed by other residents. "This is our plant," shouted a resident.
"We are humans, sir. Please communicate. We are not animals," added another resident.
The actions of Paulinus and several other residents had made the excavator stop. However, the Head of the Mabar Police OPS Division, Robert M. Bolle, asked the heavy equipment operator to continue the work.
"Don't be silent. Forward, forward," he said.
Paulinus continued to protest and questioned the presence of the officers at the place.
"How much did you get paid. How much did the police get paid?" Paulinus shouted, pointing at the police in front of him.
Robert responded to his words with an arrest warrant.
"Secure him. Secure him. Take him. Arrest the others," he ordered to which several police personnel responded immediately.
Paulinus who was standing right in front of the excavator was immediately dragged away. He was struggling to get free from the police ambush. After Paulinus was arrested, the eviction was continued, under tight security by the army and police.
At 13.00 WITA, Paulinus was released and rejoined the residents.
The refusal of residents in the vicinity of the Bowosie Forest, as well as other civilian elements to the project, which is part of the national strategic project, was carried out because they considered the eviction site to be a buffer forest area for the city of Labuan Bajo. In addition, some areas are community gardens.
Racang Buka residents who enter the area of Gorontalo Village, Komodo District have inhabited the area since the 1990s.
They have made various legal efforts to legally inhabit at least 150 hectares of the Bowosie Forest in the southern part through a scheme to free forest areas into settlements and agricultural land.
Their step was answered by the government through the Decree of the West Manggarai Forest Boundary No. 357 of 2016, but only about 38 hectares were granted, which was designated as an area for Other Use Areas [APL].
While the residents were only given 38 hectares, the other part of the forest that they requested to become their rights is now part of the area handed over by the government to BPO-LBF through Presidential Decree 32 of 2018.
The Head of Operations Section [Head of OPS] West Manggarai Police, AKP Robertus M. Bolle stated that his presence at the eviction site was only to provide security at the order of the Chief of Police and the request of the Implementing Agency for the Labuan Bajo Flores Authority [BPOLBF].
"We carry out security duties with a letter of assignment from the police chief. The basis for that is an application from the Flores Labuan Bajo Authority Implementing Agency [BPOLBF] for security related to the opening of roads on government land. So that's the basis," he said.
"So, we are here to carry out security. Only security. Both from the workers and from the community itself," he added.
Regarding the arrest of the residents of Paulinus, he emphasized that this step was taken to prevent a bigger problem from being avoided.
"Persuasion has been done, communication has been good, we have to be a little strict with this activity. There is no pushing. But there is one of our brothers who gave his life in the excavator. We secure him so he doesn't get hurt. We move him from the location that threatens his life. , said Robert.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Rights Concerned
- Land rights
- Freedom of expression
- Right to liberty and security
- Right to Protest
- Community-based HRD
- Land rights defender
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 21 April 2022, Paulinus Jek, land rights defender and member of the Racang Buka Community fighting against eviction, was arrested by the police while trying to block an excavator clearing his land to give room for a touristic project in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia.