Thousand of Senyerang Farmers Get Back their Land, Resist Landgrabbing [Indonesia]

PRESS RELEASE December 24, 2011 SENYERANG, Indonesia - The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and the Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) strongly supports the militant action of one thousand five hundred (1,500) farmers from Senyerang, a village in Tanjung Barat regency, led by the Persatuan Petani Jambi (PPJ) or Farmers Union of Jambi to get back their land and resist landgrabbing against PT Wira Karya Sakti (WKS), a subsidiary of the Sinar Mas Group. “The Senyerang farmers started the militant action at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, December 21 in canal 15 and 16 to reach the land to be reclaimed. The farmers built emergency bridge in canal 19 because the PT WKS company cut off the old bridge in order to block the entrance to the village,” according to Hatta (Farmer Union of Jambi (PPJ) and also leader of Senyerang village.

The Sinar Mas Group is one of the largest conglomerates in Indonesia formed in 1962 by a Chinese Indonesia tycoon, Eka Tjipha Widjaja. It has many subsidiaries including Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and palm oil producer PT SMART. The Sinar Mas businesses operate in Pulp and Paper, real estate, financial services, agribusiness, telecommunications and mining. The businesses are listed in the Indonesian and Singapore stock exchanges. “The land dispute between Senyerang farmers against PT WKS started in 2001, when the Local Government of the Regent of Tanjung Jabung Barat, Usman Ermulan turn-over to PT. WKS the 52,000 hectares of land whose status is Area for Other Use to Forest Production but was later use for Industrial Plantation Forest (HTI) business,” clarified by Rahmat Ajiguna, APC deputy secretary general and concurrent AGRA secretary general. “PT. WKS got the concessions on Industrial Plantation Forest (HTI) through the Ministry of Forestry Decree of HTI covering 357,461 hectares in five districts in Jambi province, namely Batang Hari, Muaro Jambi, Tanjung Jabung Barat, Tanjung Jabung Timur and Tebo, “according to Rahmat. “We are protesting both government of West Tanjung Jabung district, Jambi Provincial Government and the Ministry of Forestry for not making any action favoring us. Unfortunately, the PT WKS used Decree No. 64/Kpts-II/2001 issued by the Ministry of Forestry to displace us from our customary lands and the surrounding Senyerang communities which was then planted with acacia, eucalyptus plants and other crops. Using violence, the PT WKS escorted by police, military and hired goons started to evict us. ” Hatta explained. “Our ancestors have been cultivating the land since the Dutch colonial times. Our ancestors were buried there. That is our land and we grew various crops for a living… These long-established practices were disrupted when PT WKS forbid us to use the lands in 2001…. I will fight to my last drop of blood because it’s our source of income, our life” Hatta remarked. “We highly recognize the Senyerang farmers for their courage in reclaiming the lands that is rightfully theirs. We call on all our 33 organizational members in 9 countries in Asia such as Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Philippines and Indonesia to express their support to the struggle of Senyerang farmers,” added Rahmat. “We demand to stop the violence perpetrated by the Indonesian police and the military against the Senyerang peasants who are fighting for their land. Justice was not yet given to our colleague who was killed on November 10, 2010 when he was shot by police officers of Mobile Brigade Tanjab Barat Regency, during the Pengabuan River blockade protest. We demand that the 7,224 hectares be back to the Senyerang farmers. They want their lands back and not police brutality. The Indonesian government should protect the people and not the PT Wira Karya Sakti (WKS). Finally, we urge the government to provide land for the landless Indonesian peasants by implementing genuine land reform.,” ended Rahmat. #


Rahmat Ajiguna APC Deputy Secretary General and AGRA Secretary General Mobile number: +6281288734944 Hatta Farmers Union of Jambi and Leader in Senyerang Village Mobile number: +6281994368338

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