Indonesia: five indigenous rights defenders arrested as result of criminalisationEvent
- Initial Date
- Mar 9, 2022
- Event Description
On Wednesday, March 9, 2022, the Pasangkayu Police, West Sulawesi arrested five farmers who were involved in the struggle of the Kaili Tado indigenous people in Kabuyu Hamlet, Mertasari Village, Pasangkayu Regency, West Sulawesi. The five farmers were previously reported by the PT Mamuang truck driver, Andi Alamsyah, in the case of alleged criminal acts of threats as referred to in Article 335 Paragraph (1) 1st of the Criminal Code. This arrest was made after the police issued a second summons to five farmers, in which the first police call was not received by the farmers.
The five farmers were intercepted on their way to get legal assistance, after being successfully stopped by the police, they were taken to the Pasangkayu Police Station at 10.00 WITA on the grounds that a BAP (Minutes of Investigation) process would be carried out by the police for the previously reported threatening actions.
The five farmers are Agus (male, 66 years old), Suarka (male, 66 years old), Lodra (male, 58 years old), Halima (female, 55 years old) and Dedi (male, 30 years old). ). After going through a lengthy BAP process, three of the five people who were originally witnesses are now named suspects, namely Dedi, Agus, and Suarka.
Since the entry of PT Mamuang in their area in 1991, the lives of the people in Dusun Kabuyu have undergone significant changes. Initially, the people in Kabuyu Hamlet managed their ancestral land for productive agricultural land. The community grows rice, corn, cocoa, coconut and various other types of crops to support their livelihoods. However, since PT Mamuang came to their area, the community is only allowed to manage a narrow land on the banks of the Pasangkayu river. They lost their management area because it was taken over by PT Mamuang. Since the start of the company's operations, PT Mamuang has planted outside their HGU. This is evidenced by the oil palm plantations planted along the Pasangkayu watershed at a distance of less than 50 meters from the river bank. PT Mamuang was proven to have violated Government Regulation No. 38 of 2011 concerning Rivers, which stipulates that oil palm companies are not allowed to plant within the border line, which is 50 meters from the river bank.
PT Mamuang, a subsidiary of PT Astra Agro Lestari, the second largest palm oil company in Indonesia, has a long list of criminalizations committed against farming communities. According to WALHI records, since 2017 PT Mamuang has criminalized 7 farmers who have lived in the plantation area for a long time, fighting over their housing because it was confiscated by PT Mamuang. In the criminalization effort carried out by PT Mamuang, it was reported that the indigenous Kaili Tado community was struggling to find a place to live amidst the onslaught of palm oil investment by PT Mamuang. Since PT Mamuang entered community territory in 1991, PT Mamuang has planted 100 hectares outside their HGU, which is the customary land of the Kaili Tado community. For nearly 32 years, a total of 107 households (KK) in Kabuyu have lived in the midst of a crisis of limited living space, marginalized by PT Mamuang's palm oil investment. They live and farm on the banks of the Pasangkayu river and become the “living embankment” of PT Mamuang's plantation. The deprivation of the living space of indigenous peoples is the initial pattern of the destruction of investment controls, taking advantage of limited access to information and poor conditions closing civil rights to recognize citizen entities, which has been the opening for ASTRA Investment to seize community land since 1991.
The community's resistance in Dusun Kabuyu to reclaim their land began in 2003, when the community realized that PT Mamuang had been planting outside their HGU, such as oil palm located along the Pasangkayu watershed less than 50 meters from the riverbank. Since then, the people of Kaili Tado have slowly occupied the oil palm land planted by PT Mamuang and managed the land around their area. Resistance was also conveyed by taking action against companies and local governments to demand the return of their land. In 2006, the company then mobilized a number of police and company thugs (centeng) to oppress and intimidate the public into silencing their three-year resistance.
In early January 2022, the Indonesian government issued Decree No. SK.01/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/1/2022 concerning Revocation of Forest Area Concession Permits, although PT Mamuang's concession is not included in the list of companies whose forest permits were revoked despite problems, the indigenous people of Kaili Tado consider this moment to reclaim their land . After the issuance of the decree, they returned to occupy another area previously planted by PT Mamuang which is believed to be customary land and is outside the HGU area of PT Mamuang. After two months of occupation, on February 27, 2022 PT Mamuang, with complete escort from the Pasangkayu Police, isolating Kabuyu Village by cutting off a number of road access for the Kaili Tado community by making a ditch to close the road. They also intimidated the Kaili Tado indigenous community by mobilizing a number of thugs.
It is important to note that the rampant criminalization carried out by palm oil companies does not only occur in Kabuyu or is carried out by PT Mamuang. Conflicts that often occur and are unavoidable in the circle of oil palm plantations do not escape the government's fault in ensuring all requirements are met. For example, in the process of issuing oil palm plantation permits, each company is required to fulfill a number of requirements such as IUP, INLOK (Location Permit), Land Acquisition, and HGU (Hak Guna Usaha). However, in each stage of the licensing process there are requirements that are not completed at each stage of the licensing process, causing problems in the next licensing process. This is also due to the weak principle of FPIC (Free Prior Informed Consent) free, free consent given by communities affected by oil palm companies.
Responding to frequent criminalization by PT Mamuang, Khairul Syahputra, Head of the Campaign and Advocacy Department of WALHI Central Sulawesi stated, “Almost half a century ASTRA Group in Central Sulawesi and West Sulawesi has been doing oil palm plantation business by robbing people of their livelihood space, and causing structural poverty for the people. community in the circle of investment. The massive land conflict between the community and ASTRA today is an accumulation of business impacts that started with land grabbing. Criminalization and intimidation are used as weapons by ASTRA to quell the resistance of the people who today demand the return of their rights." Obviously.
“WALHI urges ASTRA to return community lands that have been confiscated and stop all attempts to criminalize and intimidate residents. WALHI also urges the government to undertake reconstruction and re-audit all acquisitions of ASTRA land permits in Central Sulawesi and West Sulawesi.” added Khairul.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Land rights
- Right to liberty and security
- Indigenous peoples' rights defender
- Agricultural business
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 9 March 2022, 5 indigenous rights defenders, including a WHRD, were arrested by the police after being summoned and named suspect of threats charges based on a complaint filed by a palm oil company in relation to a land dispute in Pasangkayu Regency, Indonesia.