Stop the attacks against rural communities fighting land grabs in Indonesia and the Philippines

Indonesian police confront farmers in Bebidas Village, Indonesia (Photo by AGRA)

PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) joins the calls of our partner organizations in Indonesia and the Philippines for the authorities to address the recent spate of violence against their rural populations reportedly committed by State forces, and make those behind the atrocities accountable. These rural communities face repression as they defend their rights to land and resources.

In Indonesia, our partner Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) reported that on September 18, more than 500 members of the Taman Nasional Gunung Barat (Gunung Rinjani National Park/TNGR) Police, the Indonesian National Police, and the Indonesian Army attacked the barricade that the villagers set up to stop their expulsion from their homes and farmland in Bebidas Village, East Lombok, Nusa Tenggara Barat. Ten farmers were injured while six others were arrested during the violent eviction which destroyed 600 homes and farmlands. The State security forces also reportedly used teargas against the resisting villagers, majority of whom were women and children.

We note that this was not the first clearing operation made against the villages living in the 300 hectares of land being claimed by the Indonesian government for the TNGR. Around 900 families – most of whom have been occupying the area since the Dutch colonial period – were already displaced by past government operations. According to AGRA, the TNGR police have been continuously intimidating and harassing the remaining families.

In a statement released on Hari Tani Nasional (National Peasants’ Day) last September 25, AGRA slammed the eviction as a consequence of the Agrarian Reform and Social Forestry Program of the current administration of President Joko Widodo. AGRA also called the program“bogus” that intensified land monopoly and land grabbing in Indonesia instead of paving the way for the ownership of land of small farmers.

Meanwhile, in the Philippines, rural communities likewise continue to face alleged State-sponsored violence, based on reports and updates from our partners. Among the latest cases was the extrajudicial killing (EJK) of a 19-year old lumad (IP in Mindanao) student and farmer by members of the military-backed Citizen’s Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) locally known as Alamara. He was active in the struggle against the militarization of their community and the operation of large-scale plantations and mining that grab and destroy their land and resources.

We are deeply concerned that these ruthless attacks against peasant and rural communities continue unabated. We are further alarmed by the fact that the alleged perpetrators of these criminal acts are State agents who are supposed to protect and defend the people. We strongly condemn these human rights violations as we express our solidarity with our partners and their communities in Indonesia and the Philippines in their struggle for justice, land, and people’s rights.#

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director (nolandnolife@panap.net)

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