Senyerang, Jambi, INDONESIA – The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) and the Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) strongly expresses it support to the Senyerang farmers for successfully taking back their land at Senyerang village in Tanjung Barat regency. The militant action is led by the Persatuan Petani Jambi (PPJ) or Farmers Union of Jambi.
The Senyerang farmers are demanding the Indonesian government to return their land that was grabbed by PT Wirakarya Sakti (WKS), a subsidiary of the Sinar Mas Group.
“Today is the 30th day of militant action of Senyerang farmers, when we broke the road blockade built by WKS security and police on 21st of December 2011. We created alternative road to canal 19 and 16, the blocked road was supposedly the only road for Senyerang farmers to bring our product to market, but for almost 2 years WKS blocked the road,” said Hatta, leader of PPJ in Senyerang Village.
The Sinar Mas Group is one of the largest conglomerates in Indonesia formed in 1962 by a Chinese- Indonesian 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 landgrabbing by PT WKS started in 2001, in same year the District Government of Tanjung Jabung Barat issued District’s Regulation no. 52/2001 as well as Forestry Minister Regulation No. 64/Kpts-II/2001. These policy change the status of the land, whose status is Other Use to Forest Production but was later use for Industrial Plantation Forest (HTI) business. Since then, the license to access the land was given to Sinarmas group,” said Mubarok of WALHI Jambi.
“Sinarmas forestry got a permit for more than 357,461 hectares of land in Jambi and the company is targeting another 432,677 hectares of land in Jambi for their interest,” added Mubarok.
“We reject the government policies favoring the Sinarmas and harmful to Senyerang people. The PT WKS has been seizing our land covering 7,234 hectares through the Decree No. 64/Kpts-II/2001. The company is using police, military and paramilitary to harass us,” stressed Hatta.
“We will stay and defend our land. We are calling the government to return back our land that was grabbed by PT WKS in canal 1 to canal 19. This land is our ancestor’s land and the future of the next generation lies here,” said Jambon, an old peasant women in Senyerang
In a joint statement, it said that the Senyerang farmers denounce the existence of police, military and paramilitary that intimidate the farmers while supporting the Sinarmas company. The death of Ahmad Adam that was shoot by Police force on November 8, 2010 is enough.
“We are in solidarity with Senyerang farmers that shows their militancy in reclaiming their land against PT. WKS. We call all our networks and organizations to give solidarity for the struggle of people in Senyerang,” said Arif Munandar, Director of WALHI Jambi.
“We demand to the Indonesian government to stop the harassment and intimidation. We demand the government to prosecute Bripti Hamsar nin Sangkala that shoot Ahmad Adam. And we also demand to return the 7,224 hectares of land to Senyerang farmers that grabbed by PT WKS,” added Arif.
“Senyerang farmers are now confronting the police and paramilitary paid by PT WKS. The government have to implement genuine agrarian reform and give back the land to farmers,” ended Mubarok of Walhi Jambi.
“We highly acknowledge the Senyerang farmers for their militant action and courage in reclaiming the lands that is rightfully theirs. The APC and AGRA fully support their action and we will continue our campaign for genuine land reform. We call APC members in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Philippines to express their support to the struggle of Senyerang farmers,” said Rahmat, APC deputy secretary general and AGRA secretary general.