Reports are coming out of Sumatra that police acting under the orders of Arara Abadi set fire to villagers’ houses in Bangkalis, Riau province. The reports are posted, below, from the website of the Indonesian left-wing party, Papernas.
LMND National Executives Condemn Police Burning 700 Citizens’ Houses in Bengkalis, Riau
19 December 2008
On Thursday (18/12/08), two helicopters flew in circle and used napalm, the kind used by the US troops in Vietnam, against farmers’ settlement in Dusun Solok Bongkal, Beringin Village, Sub-District Pinggir, Bengkalis, Riau. In seconds, about 700 citizens’ houses were burnt down, along with the farming lands, productive tools, and furniture that could not be saved by their owners. Furthermore, about a thousand thugs and five hundreds armed police personnel were deployed to evict the citizens. Police opened fire not only to scare the citizens, but also aimed at them, so that two citizens were shot. Ironically, a toddler named Fitri (2 y.o.) was so frightened that she fell into a well and died. During the incident, about 200 citizens were arrested and detained at Mandau Police station, and about 400 more are hiding in the forest of Kampung Dalam, while surrounded by hundreds of police and thugs who hunt them like outlaws. Apparently, the Indonesian Police cooperation with the US military results in the former’s use of napalm in a scorched earth against people’s houses.
This inhuman and brutal act was carried out by the state apparatus, that is the The Police of the Republic of Indonesia, whose shoelaces were bought by money from the people. In the meantime, the police and a thousand of thugs evicted citizens without carrying any court’s order, only an order (obviously with bribes) by a company, PT Arara Abadi. How can police serve the Law, if they easily ignore the Law to please big businesses?
According to the permit given by the government, PT Arara Abadi only holds management right, instead of ownership right, of the forest in the location. But in the development, PT Arara Abadi claimed ownership of the land, while the government turned a blind eye; therefore the affiliate of Sinar Mas Group has tried to evict the citizens many times, including sending thugs to do it. In reality, the five thousand hectares of land is under the settlers’ customary/indigenous right (tanah ulayat), which historically has been recorded in formal documents; the majority of citizens own the proves of ownership of that land.
It is an unwritten law in this country that the government will always serve big businesses, and its apparatus (the Police and the Court) will be the protector aka uniformed thugs of their corporations. Similar incidents have happened for a long period of time in almost the entire country, but there has been no will by the parliament (DPR) or any other institution to investigate them.
With the incident in Bengkalis, Riau, we affirm that anti-thug campaign being promoted by the new Police Chief is simply a lie. It is impossible to eradicate thuggery (premanisme) if it is so closely attached to the existing police institution. Police’s slogan “the protector, nurturer, at the service of the society” has been translated into a number of acts of violences against the civilians. The people do not see the Police as their protector but instead the enemy that violate their political and democratic rights, as well as their right to live.
Therefore, the National Executives of the National Students’ League for Democracy (EN-LMND) declared
1. To condemn the Indonesian Police (POLRI) that have committed acts of violence through the use of napalm to burn down settlements, shot and arrested hundreds of Bongkal Suluk citizens. We demand that the Police Chief shows his consistency in fighting thuggery and improves the image of the Indonesian Police by dismissing, bringing to court and imposing severe punishment to all his personnel involved in the incident;
2. To demand the national Police Chief to dismiss Riau Regional Police Chief and bring Alex Mandalika – Riau Police Reskrim – to the Human Rights Court for leading the act of violence.
3. Freeze PT Arara Abadi activities by cancelling its business permit, and arresting and bringing to court the company’s management; Revoke the Ministry of Forestry Decision Letter (SK no.743/Kpts-II/1996)
4. Return the entire land that belongs to Suluk Bongkal Citizens’ customary rights; rehabilitate their houses and provide compensation to all losses of their productive tools and farming lands.
5. Release without any condition 200 detained activists and citizens;
6. Demand that the National Human Right Commission (Komnas HAM) conducted field investigation on the gross violation of Human Rights carried out by the Police and PT Arara Abadi;
Democracy and welfare, now!
Jakarta, 19 December 2008
Form Students’ Council, Fight for Genuine Democracy
Lalu Hilman Afriandi
Vietnam war-bomb was dropped to the landless farmers in Indonesia
20 December 2008
It has been hundred years peasant community settled and make their living in Suluk Bongkal, Riau Province. But, On 18 December 2008 the community are hunted by the drop of Napalm bomb, gun fired and tears gases. In a few minutes 700 houses were in flame. 1000 hired thugs and 500 police were burst into the crowd.
Hundred of peasant families had lived in Suluk Bongkal area for hundred years. On 1991, government issued land certificate for each villages
In 1997, Arara Abadi corporation, a company that supply raw material to Indah Kiat Pulp and Paper, Sinar mas group, were given the rights to control over the land. Since that day, Arara Abadi is not only privilege to control over Suluk Bongkal area, but also hundred thousand hectares land in Riau province, While the farmers turn to be landless.
On mid of 2007, these landless peasant affiliated to Riau Peasent Union (STR) succeed to reclaim the land. Since that day, 800 people living in that reclaimed area of Suluk Bongkal, Bengkalis, Riau.
The incident began when police tried to arrest Riza Zuhelmy, STR chairperson, the masses tried to protect their leader. Police sent other troops to manage this situation and arrest ten peasant. Unable to control the situation, police chopper flew and dropped napalm bomb to peasant settlement. While the police troops were shut rubber bullet and tears gas to disperse the masses. The situation turned into panic. Hundreds peasant are arrested. Putri, a child aged 2,6 years was scared to death and run to the jungle. She later found lifeless, sunk in the dwell. After the masses are dispersed, bulldozer came to clean the ruins, and soon after that hired thugs occupied the land. This attack are directly led by head division of criminal of Riau Police head quarter, Alex Mandalika,
On that tragedy, 700 houses are turn to ash, 200 peasant are arrested and 400 peasant are hunted and hide.
Riau Peasent Union had filed land dispute case between people and Arara Abadi corporation to the Provincial administration since 2007. On May 15 2007 ministry of forestry issued S 319/Menhut-VI/2007 said that people who has been living before 1996 (the years of Arara Abadi land concession) may stay there and the area should be excluded from concession area.
Jhony Nelsen SImanjutak from National commission of human rights found the indication of human rights violation regarding the land dispute conflict between people and Arara Abadi in three sub district. National commission is now asking for information from 100 victim.
While Nurul Huda from Arara Abadi hoping that National Commission of Human Rights should ask second opinion from the company since the company operates as a regulation from government. Currently, 200 farmers are arrested.
Help the farmers, send your solidarity, protest letter to end the human rights violation. Send the letter to
Arara Abadi fax 0761-91320
National commission of human rights +62 21 3912026
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Police headquarter of Riau Province +6276120084
Send the solidarity letter to Papernas@yahoo.com,