Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Look Back at some Agrarian Conflicts in 2013

A translation of Mongabay-Indonesia's review of some of the clashes over access to land which arose in Indonesia during 2013, based on reports on that website. Of course it only reports a small fraction of the incidents which occurred, but still gives a good overview of the diversity of community struggles for land and livelihood, drawing on news from around the archipelago. 
Rosimah, taking part in the Action. Since December 10th she has camped out on the National Human Rights Commission back veranda. Photo: Andreas Harsono 
Rosimah was reclining on a wooden bench that afternoon. She was sitting on a covered veranda behind the National Human Rights Commission building, on Jalan Latuharhary, Menteng, Central Jakarta, just a few meters away from the Nabahan Dormitory.

Rosminah spoke haltingly. Sometimes she was silent. “It's hard to think. Too much to think about. I don't know what I want any more.” She spoke slowly. It was clear she was holding back tears. Her lips were trembling. “In the end we came here from Jambi, we want to demand what is rightfully ours.”

Since 10th December 2013, this women in her fifties has been occupying this building along with dozens of other members of the Suku Anak Dalam 113 community. They stay on the veranda, and sleep there at night. An emergency kitchen has been built, protected by a tarpaulin, with a surface to prepare food and cooking utensils. It is a sharp contrast with the luxury buildings that abound in this rich part of the capital.

They are there to demand the return of their customary land which has been claimed by an oil palm company, PT Asiatic Persada. They are also demanding that this company's land use permit (HGU) is revoked.

Rosimah lived in Pinang Tinggi village, Batanghari, Jambi. Her home and garden are considered to be part of the company's concession. “It's all gone, our two houses pulled down. Rubber trees, durian trees, rambutan, cempedak, the company destroyed them all.”

Yet, she says, her ancestors have always lived there. “This was the land of my grandmother, I was born there, I have six children, they're all grown up now, lots of grandchildren were living there. And now it's all gone...”