Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Papua's Burden: Chronology of Repression 2010.

In West Papua, the culture of violent repression of social movements continues in a way where it seems that little has changed since the Suharto era of 1965-1998. Here we present a short summary of some of the incidents which happened during 2010, with the aim of illustrating the spectrum  of tactics which the state uses to ensure continuing chaos and control. Killings are common, but repression also takes the forms of arrests and interrogation, forming front organisations with the aim of disruption, attacking demonstrations, banning books, banning foreign journalists and NGOs, harassing Papua journalists, cruel treatment of prisoners, excessive prison sentences, village burnings and sweeping operations which force the people to flee in terror.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Fire of Resistance Burns Bright in Polongbangkeng.

On a small hill beneath a big tree, dozens of people have been waiting since morning. Their look is serious as they observe from afar and wait to see what will happen.

Their attention is focussed on Block D of state plantation company PT Perkebunan Nusantara PTPN XIV, at a distance of around 200 meters from the tree. That particular piece of land was seized from its owners, the community of Polongbangkeng, Takelar, South Sulawesi, 28 years ago, and they are still trying to take it back.

“If they try to work the land, we will block them”, explains a farmer who was participating in the watch last Saturday (13/11). Using his machete, he points out various places, to the west, south-east and south. At each of these points there are also other teams of people, keeping lookout from different angles. Guerrilla tactics in practice.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Hitch-hiking in West Papua

A journey towards understanding some of the everyday effects of Indonesian occupation.

For some time the idea of visiting West Papua had been stuck in our heads. Partly for adventure: this island is the third largest rainforest remaining in the world, but the primary motivation was to understand a little bit more about the conflict here, currently the longest running and most bitter in the territory claimed by Indonesia. Since the early 1960s the Papuans have been fighting back against the military might of the Indonesian state. Their cultural survival is ranged against high economic stakes including natural resources- timber, gas and especially the world's largest copper mine - and also vast expanse of their land which Indonesia uses to relieve the pressure on the more crowded islands of Java and Sulawesi.

There was a time when solidarity with West Papua was quite popular in radical ecological circles in the west - images of indigenous warriors fighting the might of a militarised state with their bows and arrows captivated the imagination of a lot of us at the time. I was inspired by this too, but I was also wary, because real solidarity cannot be built on romantic images alone; the reality of conflict situations is always complex and it doesn't do to ignore the inconvenient bits. In the end we felt it would be a good idea, as by now we could communicate in Indonesian, to take a look at what's going on there.

Friday, November 12, 2010

London Sumatra: the Myth of Sustainable Palm Oil

Surrounded on all sides by swathes of oil palm plantations lies a village of indomitable residents that have for many years waged an ongoing battle to regain the land that was stolen from them during the Suharto dictatorship and ended up in the hands of the plantation company, London Sumatra. The village, Pergulaan in the Indonesian province of North Sumatra is by no means unusual in that regard, cases of land seizure are ubiquitous in Sumatra, affecting 250,000 families in North Sumatra alone1. Along with rainforest destruction, Indonesia's plantation industries are founded on the dispossession of peasant farmers.

Kulon Progo - The Government Forces us to Fight Back

The plan to mine the ironsands along the southern coast of Kulon Progo (more exactly from Pantai Trisik to Pantai Glagah) continues to be resisted by Paguyaban Petani Lahan Pantai (PPLP - Association of Shoreline Farmers) . The demonstrations keep on coming, as do the efforts of the government and investors to make ensure that  Jogja Magasa Iron's plan to mine the ironsands will bring them profit. Why does PPLP continue to resist, scarcely leaving any space for negotiation? The following is KONDE's [local newspaper] interview with Widodo, one of the figureheads of PPLP in the past time.

Anarchy in Indonesia

This interview was published in German in the book Von Jakarta bis Johannesburg - Anarchismus weltweit, Sebastian Kalicha & Gabriel Kuhn (eds.) Unrast Verlag 2010

Can you tell us about the history of anarchism in Indonesia?

MT: As far as I know from my friends' stories and from what I’ve learned, the origin of anarchism in Indonesia came together with the arrival of punk music around 1998. At that time anarchy was synonymous with punk and some people in that community began to delve deeper into anarchic ideology and values. Since that time anarchist discourse began to develop amongst individuals or collectives in the punk / hardcore community, and later to a broader range of groups such as activists, students, workers; essentially reaching a wider public with different backgrounds.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

ABOUT CORPORATIONS, THE STATE AND THEIR CASUALTIES. : An interview with one who is still fighting

[translated from the book "Mengapa Kapitalisme Menyebalkan, Katalis 2010. The case of Lapindo Brantas is well known in Indonesia, but maybe readers in other places need a short explaination: Lapindo Brantas was drilling for gas near Porong in East Java. This (almost certainly) was the cause of a new mud volcano which sprang up near the drilling site and continues to flood hot mud over an area of several square kilometers, inundating several villages and affecting many others. The case is particularly notorious because Lapindo Brantas is part of the Bakrie Group, one of Indonesia's largest corporations, who's head is Aburizal Bakrie, Cabinet Minister and head of the Golkar party.]

According to you, Cak Ir [1], what benefits have come to the people due to the presence of corporations in your area?

Basically the people have been deceived by the corporations. Persuaded to believe that there would be a better life, guarantees of work, they would have more money, things would be more modern and more pleasant. In Besuki[2] the first time the people were deceived was when a toll road was being built. Building this road was promoted to the people as a highway that local people would be able to access, and the people felt that they would obtain lots of benefits from this new road. The road would be more pleasant to use if it was asphalted, they thought. But as it turned out, local people could not access the new road that was built . Once the road was completed, luxury cars would flash by, and the local people can't join in - all they can become is spectators. Industry has also started to squeeze its way onto farming land. The first factory to be built was by Pertamina.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The people of Pandang Raya fight eviction

(A portrait of the urban poor resistance against the expansion of capital)

Makassar, Sulawesi, Indonesia. 23 February 2010

Pandang Raya is a small settlement, around 4900m2. It sits in a strategic position, in the town centre and wedged between a housing development and the largest shopping centre of the city. It is a clear target for those who are enticed by investment opportunities. This has already happened in several other places, now lost or marginalised by the pace at which infrastructure is built, and now the same threat hangs over Pandang Raya. This small area which comprises only 40 homes has turned into a potential goldmine for the man who presently claims it: Goman Wisan, whose background is in the cocoa business and who lives in Palu city.