Thousands of militant peasants rally to halt landgrabbing in Indonesia
APC | 12 January 2012
Photo: Chris Stowers/Panos pictures
Jakarta, INDONESIA - On January 12, 2012, the Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA), a militant and genuine peasant movement in Indonesia, marked the New Year with a big mobilization in front of the Presidential Palace. Thousands of peasants came down from the villages in the rural communities travelling from the mountains and valleys with one battle cry - stop land grabbing!
“We are protesting massive land grabbing practices by the state, landlord and foreign capitalist. We also condemn fascist attack of the government perpetrated by their police and army by interfering in agrarian conflict in Indonesia,” remarked Rahmat Ajiguna, secretary general of AGRA and deputy secretary general of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC).
“There are hundreds of agrarian cases in Indonesia, mostly by private companies engage in mining, palm oil plantation, and foreign investments. These agrarian disputes resulted to over a dozen of peasant lives committed by the police and military. The agrarian conflicts in Papua, Mesuji, Sodong, Riau, Jambi, Papua and Bima are intense and the peasants are already furious against the repressive and fascist Indonesian National Army and Police that intervenes in the agrarian disputes,” added Rahmat.
“This is enough! President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Budiono administration is a fascist regime. Whenever we stand up for our right, we always get bullets. Today, we come here to demand to end land grabbing and fascist attacks against us,” Rahmat said.
In front of presidential palace, the peasants are very much angry against Yudhoyono regime and their military. Some of them are trying to break the barb wires that blocked the street in the front of the palace. The protesters said that President Yudhoyono knows that they are coming. Yet, the palace informed them the President is out of town.
From the Presidential palace, the peasants proceeded at the House of Representatives to push the legislators to form special committee to solve agrarian conflict.
The Indonesian policed tried to disperse the peasant rally using water cannon. Despite this, the peasants hold their grounds and maintain their rally. They were able to get the legislators attention and a negotiation was held. More than 20 law makers agreed to form a special committee to solve agrarian conflict.
“The special committee should have two agenda – first, is to initiate a consultative forum in order to formulate agrarian reform, and second, to evaluate the collaboration between the foreign capitalist with the Indonesian National Army and Police. The legislators need courage in order to do this. We will see what they could do about this. However, we will continue to defend our land with our lives.” Rahmat ended.
The rally ended at 6 pm and the peasants left the parliament building with much hope and determination to continue their fight for genuine land reform.
The People Struggle Front (Front Perjuangan Rakyat-FPR) or International League of Peoples Struggle (ILPS)-Indonesia Chapter also joined the rally. Rudy HB Daman, ILPS-Indonesian Chapter said that ILPS-Indonesia fully support the rally and endorse AGRA’s demand.
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