Agrarian Conflict going worst, Academics send petition to the President

by Madeali

In the last few years, the number of agrarian conflict is getting bigger. National Land Agency (BPN) mentioned about 8000 unresolved land conflicts. Consortium for Agrarian Reform (KPA) found that there are around 1,700 agrarian conflicts, while Sawit Watch mentioned about 660 conflicts in oil palm plantations projects. Peoples Coalition for Justice in Fishery (KIARA) reported that agrarian conflict in fishery sector in 2012 involved at least 60 thousands fishermen.

Violations and criminalization against peasants  have always been the part of agrarian conflicts. Last year, around 156 peasants arrested without any due process of law, 55 peasants were injured, 25 were shooted and three peples dead.

“The way the Government responded to conflict and violations committed by state apparatus  was insufficient, poor and really slow” Myrna A. Safitri, Director of Epistema Institute, one of the initiators of the petition, expressed her opinion, Thursday (7/2/13).

Responding to the problems, Myrna says, a number of 140s lecturers, researchers, and observers of agrarian study in Indonesia raised their deep concern. In an Expert Discussion themed Building Indonesia with Agrarian Justice, Thursday, February 7, 2013 at Hotel Bidakara Jakarta, they deliver an open letter to the President. As a result of the discussion, they establish an organization namely Indonesian Forum on Agrarian Justice chaired by Dr. Soeryo Adiwibowo.

Prof. Maria Sumardjono conveys that the President shall immediately settle down agrarian conflicts. Massive and broader impacts of agrarian conflicts are extraordinary facts. Thus, the President needs to establish an independet instution for agrarian conficts settetlement. It is required real political commitment.

The experts convey the idea that some factors behind agrarian conflicts so far is no comprehensive legal and policy reform has been done. At least, four factors identified to have contributed to such situation. Firstly, there are provisions which contradict to the Constitution, UUD 1945. Secondly, disharmony and nonsynchronous between legislation on land and natural resources. Thirdly, non-synchronous between existing legislation regulating natural resources and environment and those that regulate the acceleration of economic development. Lastly, a great number of local legislation posses exploitative characteristics that serve for short-term interest.

In addition, there are factors come out of policies and practices of issuance of license, especially for large enterprises which disrespected the principles of law and good governance; corruptive; and do not recognize the rights of adat and local communities. “Those policies and practices do not stand for peasants and fishermen, particularly landless people; and limiting their access to land and natural resource”, Prof. Endriatmo Sutarto said.

Another factor is concentration of land tenure in a small number of people or legal entities leading to bigger gap in land tenure, says Dr. Soeryo Adiwibowo. Likewise, there are some bilateral and multilateral agreements on investment which do not comply with the spirit of social and environmental sustainability.

Agrarian conflict is then getting worst for the efforts to resolve it have been paying attention to legal formal aspects. Early warning detection of conflict is not working due to no complaint mechanism has been set up efficiently by local governments. Violent measures by the police or military have led to the escalation of conflicts. The police and military apparatus always take side with investors, not stand fairly for all parties to conflict let alone to take side with vulnerable groups. “In the ways that suspectedly can be said as a collaboration between the police and military apparatus and big companies to take over people’s land and natural resources” Dr. Satyawan Sunito, from IPB, expresses his opinion.

All the experts agree that sustainable economic growth or development based on economic growth, social justice and sustainability of environment will never achieve its goals unless agrarian conflicts can be settled down with no repressive measures.

Indonesian Forum on Agrarian Justice consists of lecturers, researchers, and observers of agrarian studies. They deliver some recommendations of remedial steps to resolve agrarian conflicts to the President. Some of the recommendationa are consistent implementation of the whole mandate of Ketetapan MPR RI No. IX/MPR/2001 on Agrarian Reform and Natural Resources Management; establishment of independent institution to resolve massive agrarian conflicts with wide range impacts in the past and today.

The Forum also ask the President to review policies of granting rights and moratorium of granting new license or rights during reassessment; ask the President to assign Minister of Law and Human Rights to lead a study to review the entire legislation and regulations; Head of National Land Agency to reassess the legitimacy of land rights granted to enterprises that being party to conflicts and take strong administrative measures to all infringements in granting rights which possess an indication of criminal transgression. “We ask the President to assign Minister of Forestry to immediately resolve conflicts taking place in the villages in, around, and along the borderline of Forest Areas” Myrna said.

The Expert Forum also request to the President to order Head of Indonesia National Police and Military High Commander to investigate comprehensively violations the police and military apparatus did to peoples and NGO activists; and to stop violent measures by state apparatus; and to free NGO activists, member of adat community, peasants, and fishermen that were arrested by Indonesia police apparatus..

This academic movement is independent, voluntary, and merely based on social responsibility o make better life of the nationhood and statehood. Some professors join this movement such as Prof. Sediono Tjondronegoro, Prof Gunawan Wiradi, Prof Maria Sumardjono, Prof Hariadi Kartodihardjo. Likewise, some lecturers, researchers from LIPI and other research institutions are also part of this movement.


For detailed information please contact:
Myrna A. Safitri, Ph.D (Secretary of Indonesian Forum on Agrarian Justice)
HP: 0816861372