Residents ‘bury themselves’ to protest land theft by company

CNN Indonesia – March 4, 2019
Protest in front of South Sumatra governor’s office – March 4, 2019 (Sripoku)
Protest in front of South Sumatra governor’s office – March 4, 2019 (Sripoku)

Palembang – Around 100 people from the Komering ethnic group “buried themselves” in graves during an action in front of the South Sumatra governor’s office on Monday March 4.

The action was held because land they have inhabited for decades along the length of the Komering River was stolen by a company.

Action coordinator Jaimarta said that during the New Order administration of former President Suharto there was massive theft of ordinary people’s land in the Komering area.

There were a number of incidents, including a land seizure by the company PT Laju Perdana Indah (LPI) in 1995, which is owned by the Indofood/Salim Group. This was followed by the biggest incident involving PT LPI in 1997 when it was given a permit to control 25,362 hectares covering 10 villages in the Cempaka sub-district in East OKU regency.

The protesters made two graves which they placed right in front of the gates of the governor’s office. Each grave had one person in it that was covered by a scattering of flowers.

Police and Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers watched over the action as they read out prayers. “We ask that the government help communities to get this land back. Communities have lost productive land and are living in poverty”, said Jaimarta.

Jaimarta claimed that the land they are laying claim to was stolen by a company using the alibi that they were carrying out a land release. Yet the release of the land left injuries and a pile of agrarian conflicts which have not been resolved to this day.

As in the example of the Campang Tiga Ulu Village which is now involved in a conflict over 1,322 hectares and the East Betung Village which is in conflict over 564,675 hectares of land.

It is because of this that the protesters are asking the South Sulawesi governor to dismantle the land mafia and return the people’s stolen land.

In responding to the action, South Sulawesi Gubernatorial Assistant I, Akhmad Najib, said that they would report the protest to the governor and asked that the public be patient.

“We will also look into these companies to get their explanation in relation to this”, he said. (idz/agr)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Warga Gelar Aksi Kubur Diri di Depan Kantor Gubernur Sumsel”.]