Police condemned over fatal shooting during protest against palm oil company

CNN Indonesia – October 9, 2023
Video screen shot of police shooting to disperse protesters in Seruyan – October 7, 2023 (Kumparan)

Jakarta – A number of groups have condemned the fatal shooting by police of a local resident from the village of Bangkal, Seruyan regency, Central Kalimantan, on Saturday October 7.

The conflict between police and residents occurred when residents were holding a demonstration demanding their right to land from the palm oil plantation company PT Hamparan Masawit Bangun Persada (PT HMBP).

Resident have been demanding palm oil Plasma – plots of land new plantation companies are legally required to share with the community – and an area of land outside the PT HMBP concession area since September 16.

The incident resulted in a second person being left in a critical condition after being shot and a third whose condition is unknown because they have only recently been admitted to hospital.

A coalition of civil society groups made up of Palm Oil Watch (Sawit Watch), Save Our Borneo (SOB) and the environmental group Satya Bumi are urging security forces to avoid the use of violence and prioritise fare and equitable dialogue.

"[We call on] the parties to be able to restrain themselves so that there are no more victims and incidents violence do not continue to occur", they said in a written statement on Monday October 9.

They are also asking the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) to form a fact finding team to investigate the incident.

"The central as well as the regional government must be serious in overseeing the process of realising the Plasma where demands for the realisation of this have occurred in a number of regions", they said.

The coalition explained that PT HMBP is part of the Best Agro International Group and has received an Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certificate, so in legal terms the land is already clean and clear.

The coalition however believes that the conflict shows that the ISPO certification has failed to map out the conditions on the ground as well as failing uphold the principles of sustainability in the certification process.

Call to release arrested residents

Meanwhile, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) is urging the police to release the Bangkal residents who were arrested in the aftermath of the protest.

Walhi Central Kalimantan Executive Director Bayu Herinata said that they have received information that as many as 11 residents were arrested following the repressive actions by police against Bangkal residents.

"We urge the authorities, the Seruyan police, Central Kalimantan, to immediately release the arrested residents", said Herinata.

According to Herinata, the protest action, which had actually been proceeding peacefully, changed because the police acted repressively, including by shooing several residents. In addition to this, they arrested residents without any legal basis.

Aside from Walhi, the Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA) is also urging the Seruyan district police chief (Kapolres) to release all of the residents who were criminalised when they carried out a peaceful action to demand their right to land from PT HMBP.

The Central Kalimantan regional police chief is also being asked to immediately withdraw police from the conflict area and fully investigate and take firm action against officers who acted brutally in dealing with the conflict.

The KPA is also asking the governor to take responsibility to resolve the conflict by forming a team that involves local people, community organisations and religious leaders.

"The Central Kalimantan governor must take responsibility for the cause and consequences of the agrarian conflict that ended in this fatality", said KPA Secretary General Dewi Kartika in a press release on Monday.

The KPA is also calling on the Komnas HAM and the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) to immediately conduct an investigation into human rights violations committed by PT HMBP and the security forces in dealing with the conflict.

It is understood that the Komnas HAM has already asked Central Kalimantan regional police chief (Kapolda) Inspector General Nanang Avianto to immediately punish his officers who are alleged to have committed repressive acts during the clash between the residents and PT HMBP.

"[We have] asked the Central Kalimantan Kapolda to uphold the law against police officers or other parties that committed violence that resulted in victims being killed and seriously injured", said Komnas HAM Human Rights Enforcement Sub-Commission Coordinator Uli Parulian Sihombing in a press release on Sunday October 8.

Sihombing said that Komnas HAM will conduct an investigation into the incidents of violence that occurred at the Bangkal village.

Meanwhile the Central Kalimantan regional police stated that they will act firmly against officers if they are proven to have shot at or acted repressively against Bangkal residents.

Central Kalimantan regional police spokesperson Senior Commissioner Erlan Munaji said that a team from the Professionalism and Security Affairs (Propam) Division and the National Police Inspectorate General (Itwasum) have already intervened to conduct an investigation.

"In relation to the shooting we are in the process of conducting an investigation with a team from Propam, the Itwasum team is [also] conducting an investigation, we're waiting for the results and will convey them later", said Munaji when contacted on Sunday.

"If there are violations by officers we will of course act firmly", he added. (lna/dal)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Ramai-ramai Kecam Konflik Seruyan Kalteng Renggut Nyawa Warga".]

Source: https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20231009120647-12-1008859/ramai-ramai-kecam-konflik-seruyan-kalteng-renggut-nyawa-warga