Indonesian peasant leader asks support for harassed colleagues

Kolkata, INDIA – An Indonesia peasant leader of the Aliansi Gerakan Reform Agraria (AGRA) travelled several hours from Jakarta to this Indian state in South Asia to appeal for political support to his colleaguyes currently harassed by the Indonesian government.

The West Java coordinator of AGRA who attended the Coordinating Council Meeting (CC) of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) held on December said an international support against intimidation of four (4) AGRA farmers in Pangalengan, Bandung Regency, West Java Province of Indonesia is necessary to compel to the government to stop from persecuting his activist farmer colleagues.

According to Amran Halim, AGRA West Java Coordinator, “the land conflict started when the PDAP (Provincial Government Company on Agribusiness and Mining) itself is intensifying landlessness. The PDAP is said to be allowing local landlord or rich farmers to rent their so-called ‘lands’ because they cannot cultivate it.

However, this practice is not allowed by the law.” “Ancestors of Pangalengan peasant has been tilling the land, called Sampalan, before the Dutch established its power in 1602. When the Dutch came, they grabbed the land from the farmers. When the Dutch rule ended, the government of Indonesia continue the landgrabbing. And the rest is history,” added Amran.

Arman noted that in 2004, Pangalengan’s peasant succeeded in re-claiming their right to land in 134 hectares in Sampalan. They continue in cultivating the land, under the banner of AGRA.

Since then, the PDAP, police and the military started intimidation and violence against the Pangalengan peasants,” remarked Rahmat Ajiguna, APC Deputy Secretary General and concurrent Secretary General of AGRA ‘On October 24, 2011, in the afternoon, the PDAP, civilian, LPM RI, Pangalengan District Police, Military Headquarters at Ward Level of Pangalengan, Regency Bandung Police, tried to put a boundary pole in the Sampalan land that is cultivated by the peasants.

The AGRA farmers defended their lands and clashed with the PDAP supporters including the Pangalengan District Police and the Military Headquarters at Ward Level of Pangalengan, Regency Bandung Police.

On November 30, Regency Bandung police sent hundreds of policeman to Pangalengan to ‘secure’ the PDAP to mark the land: Once again the AGRA farmers in Pangalegan succeeded in defending their land. The police pulled-out on December 1,2011 from Pangalengan and stated that they will arrest the provocateurs, meaning, AGRA members.

This statement clearly defines that the criminalization of peasants fighting for genuine land reform will continue to ensure the PDAP langrabbing,” revealed Rahmat.

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