Agrarian Conflict in Langkat, North Sumatera, Indonesia: Police & Military Exterminate Peasant's Land For the Sake of Foreign Company

LANGKAT--Violence against farmers continues here. Hundreds of hectares of peasants' land (peasants who are members of SPI Indonesia Peasant Union), located in Mekar Jaya Village, Wampu Subdistrict, Langkat District, North Sumatera Province, were destroyed by 1,500 personnel coming from the police and military on November 18. The land extermination was carried out by using dozens of heavy equipment. As a result, some peasants suffered serious injuries. (Full video of what happened can be seen here)
 
Suriono, from SPI Langkat explained that before the eviction and extermination, "we've told the police to sit together and discuss this issue in the National Land Agency of Langkat District. But they refused it," said Suriono.
 
Suriono then asked the police to leave the land because they were bringing fear to the peasants and local residents.
 
"But instead of going away, regardless our the explanation, they kept on bulldozing and leveling agricultural lands and peasants' houses. Not only that, police officers chased the peasants inside the village and Sadikun, and a peasant member of SPI Mekar Jaya village was arrested by the police," he said.
 
Suriono said that the eviction attempts which had been thwarted by the farmers, but that the police did not even care. They kept doing violence and forced expulsions by punching and kicking the people, which included not only peasant but also small children. The peasants who were victims were Sadikun who suffered arrest and had bruises on the face, Zulkifli who had ruptured his head and had bruises on the face (he was hospitalized), Boimen who suffered beatings (hospitalized), and Legiman, Sari, Boiran, Adi, Grandpa Saleh, Grandma Siti Hawa, Rohani, Midi, Siti (a kid), and Udin who all suffered beatings.
 
Until the afternoon of November 21st, the police continued to carry out evictions using heavy equipment.
 
"We were surrounded, unable to get out of the village, outsiders were not allowed to enter," Suriono continued.
Related to this issue, Zubaidah (Chairman of SPI in North Sumatera Province) strongly condemned the violent actions of the police to SPI peasant in member Mekar Jaya village, District Wampu, Langkat District.
 
"There is no reason whatsoever for the police violence to peasants. Many ways could be done to encourage the settlement of land conflicts, instead of violent land eviction and extermination. With this kind of situation, peasants are always the victims and perpetrators are still police officers," said Zubaidah.  He also explained that land conflicts that arise in Langkat are often triggered by intensified expansion of plantation companies abroad.
 
"This conflict was once against PTPN II (National Plantation Company)  Kebun Gohor Lama since 1998. Following the entry of Langkat Nusantara Kepong (company from Malaysia)* and took over the operational of PTPN II Kebun Lama Gohor, all efforts by the company to evict peasants from the land is increasingly intense," said Zubaidah.
 
"This conflict involves a land of ​​554 hectares, that were appropriated by PTPN II Kebun Gohor Lama," she also said.
 
"What make us sad and hopeless is that the police and military tend to support foreign companies, not the people themselves. This is clearly wrong. Just imagine, a village of 1,500 was surrounded by the police and army," she said.
 
For that, Zubaidah stressed that the Acting Governor of North Sumatra T. Erry Nuradi and North Sumatera Regional Police Chief immediately intervened to resolve the agrarian conflict.
 
"The governor should be speeding up, doing something real to end this land conflict so there will be no more casualties. It can be started by revoking the license of the Langkat Nusantara Kepong Company. Furthermore, to North Sumatera Regional Police Chief, he has to take action against his members who commit physical violence against peasants in Mekar Jaya langkat especially peasants who are experiencing land conflict," she added.
 
"No need to wait for the implementation of agrarian reform.  It's a must to so we can avoid another conflicts, that are always devastating to peasants," stresses Zubaidah.

 

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