Subject: 3 Reports: TNI Businesses 'Root of All Evil;' Farmers Demand Justice; Land Clashes

- Military-Business Link Root of All Evil: Activists

- Farmers Demand Justice in Java, Sumatra Land Disputes

- Emotions run high at Pasuruan meeting

The Jakarta Post Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Military-Business Link Root of All Evil: Activists

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Rights activists have asked the President to issue a decree nationalizing all commercial military interests, claiming military involvement in business is the root of rights violations against civilians.

Commenting on last week's deadly shooting in Alas Tlogo village, East Java, Sri Yunanto, the director of the Institute for Defense Security and Peace Studies, said the conflict was not only a land dispute but also a conflict between the military's business interests and the interests of the people.

"We saw the obvious misuse of military assets for business purposes and the misuse of the state apparatus to protect that business. These things are the root of the problem that led to the shooting," Yunanto told reporters Monday.

"The President's political stance on speeding up the formulation of a decree on a national team for the takeover of TNI (Indonesian military) businesses is very important in the reformation of the military, especially in order to get the military out of the business sector," he said.

The Defense Ministry should identify all military business assets in order to terminate the military's commercial interests as required by Law No. 34/2004 on the TNI, which prohibits the TNI and all of its members from taking part in business activities, said Yunanto.

The Pasuruan case is just one of many incidents in which state assets were misused to serve the business interests of the military, according to Yunanto. Such incidents can potentially lead to conflicts and human rights abuses, he added.

Yunanto called on the TNI to investigate the shooting case in the civil court system and not in the military court, as the case revolves around allegations of human rights abuses.

In a similar tone, Bambang Widodo Umar, a lecturer at the University of Indonesia, said the National Police should have been actively involved in the initial investigation into the case and should not have let the Navy's military police conduct the investigation on their own.

"The domain of the case is the police domain because it involves civilians. The police should have been braver about launching an investigation, even though the case involves the military," Bambang said.

He said the police should also investigate the case to balance interpretations of what happened.

"The Navy can investigate the case, but the police must also investigate it in order to serve the civilian's interests. This would prevent any claim of subjectivity on the part of any institution," said Bambang, adding that the shooting case shows that military reform has been half-hearted.

"This means TNI structural reform is not working. Conflicts between the military and civilians are happening everywhere. The TNI should not be involved in everything. Let law enforcement institutions, such as the police and the courts, be responsible for law enforcement," Bambang said.


The Jakarta Post Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Farmers Demand Justice in Land Disputes

Apriadi Gunawan and Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post/Medan/Bandung

In separate protests Monday, farmers in North Sumatra and West Java demanded the government intervene to resolve prolonged, sometimes violent land disputes.

In both provinces, protesters evoked the tragedy of last week's killing of four villagers in East Java during a protest against the Navy over a plot of land.

During the protest in the North Sumatra provincial capital Medan, members of the North Sumatra Farmers Association (SPSU) accused security personnel of intimidating villagers locked in land disputes with plantation companies.

A farmer from the city of Kisaran, Juniar Tampubolon, 36, said he was one of dozens of farmers who had been victimized by security personnel over the course of a dispute with plantation company PT Bakrie Sumatera in Asahan regency.

Juniar said farmers were afraid to stand up for their rights because of what he called "mistreatment" at the hands of security officers.

"I've been hit by around 30 security members. Look at these scars on my face," Juniar told The Jakarta Post.

He also showed photographs of what he said were farmers being beaten by security personnel several months ago.

SPSU chairman Wagimin said hundreds of land dispute cases in the province had gone unresolved, most involving plantation companies and villagers.

"We have reported the land expropriation cases many times to the police, but our reports have been ignored. On the contrary, policemen often back the companies that have seized farmers' land," said Wagimin.

He said farmers had filed a police complaint on the expropriation of 600 hectares of land by PT Jaya Baru plantation company in Asahan regency, but had never received a response.

Secretary-general of the Indonesian Farmers Association Henri Saragih, who took part in Monday's protest, said there were 2,000 ongoing land disputes across the country that had the potential to lead to violence.

He urged the government to carry out an immediate land reform program, in line with the 1960 Agrarian Law.

North Sumatra provincial spokesman Arsyad Lubis said the administration was working with the National Land Agency (BPN) to resolve disputes in the province.

"The BPN is aware of the land disputes. We will work together with it to resolve the problems."

In Bandung, the capital of West Java, farmers and students rallied at the provincial legislative building on Jl. Diponegoro.

They condemned last week's shooting in Pasuruan, East Java, in which four people were killed by marines during a protest over a land dispute involving the Navy.

The deputy chairman of Commission A on governance and legal affairs at the West Java legislature, Syaiful Huda, said land disputes in the province involved around one million poor people and 500,000 hectares of land.

"Many of the residents (involved in the disputes) obtained right to cultivate (HGU) licenses on land neglected by plantation companies for dozens of years. In 2005, when most of these HGU licenses ended, the disputes worsened," Syaiful said.

The National Land Agency has listed more than 1,200 land disputes in West Java, most involving plantation companies and farmers holding HGU licenses.

The West Java legislature has asked the administration to resolve the disputes before they erupt into violence.

According to data from the land agency, most of the disputes in West Java occur in Garut, Ciamis, Cianjur, Sukabumi and Bogor.

Syaiful also criticized companies caught up in disputes for hiring crowds of people and paying security personnel to intimidate residents.

He said the administration should inventory all idle land in the province and distribute it to poor and landless farmers.


The Jakarta Post Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Emotions run high at Pasuruan meeting

Wahyoe Boediwardhana, The Jakarta Post/Pasuruan

A meeting between disgruntled villagers and commander of the Navy's Eastern Fleet Rear Adm. Moekhlas Sidiq on Monday over a disputed plot of land in Pasuran, East Java, ended in a walkout.

Four villagers, including one pregnant women, were shot and killed by Marines last week during an argument over the land, which both the villagers and the Navy claim to own.

More than 100 residents and the heads of 11 villages in the Nguling and Lekok districts left the meeting before it concluded.

As the moderator of the meeting, East Java Governor Imam Utomo asked the disputing parties to wait for the outcome of an appeal submitted by villagers regarding the disputed land.

At the meeting, the parents of two of the victims of Wednesday's shooting became hysterical and fell unconscious.

The residents walked out of the meeting when Moekhlas spoke about the Navy's plan to build a war training center on the disputed land.

Moekhlas explained the plan in detail after being asked by Achmad Zubaedi, the speaker of the Pasuruan Legislative Council, about facilities planned to be built on the 3,200-hectare area of land.

When Moekhlas began to explain, the residents loudly voiced their opposition and demanded the land be handed over to them in line with the documents they possessed.

The residents insisted land certificates obtained by the Navy were not issued in accordance with existing procedures and claimed residents had never sold the land to the Navy.

Moekhlas rejected their claim.

"It should not be handled like that. If we have to hand over the land certificates to the residents, it should be done through the proper legal processes," Moekhlas said afterwards.

At the meeting, 10 village heads from the area surrounding Alas Tlogo strongly supported calls for the Navy to find a new location for the center. The village heads had previously been reluctant to voice their opinion.

Moekhlas said after the meeting the residents' demands were baseless.

"It's wrong of them to ask for the land certificates. We agreed the dispute would be settled via legal channels. But if they claim to be correct, let's just wait for the verdict," he said.

"If in the appeal process we are defeated, we are prepared to leave the area. However, if they lose they have to leave the area," he said.

According to the Navy's plan, an education center and residential facilities will be constructed on the site in addition to the war training center.

Alas Tlogo village head Imam Subnadi said he was disappointed with the result of the meeting, but agreed to wait for the High Court's verdict.

"We want to end this problem as soon as possible. We hope within the next two months there will have been a solution to the dispute," he said.


Terjemahan (atas jasa "Kataku")

------------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service 
JoyoNews on the Web at: 

Back to June menu

World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu