Indonesia: Police Shoot Peasants At Gathering
Police Disrupt Peasant Gathering in Lombok 37 Peasants Shot and Wounded
On the 18th of September an international delegation of 15 La Via Campesina leaders from India, Bangladesh, Korea, European Union, United States, Brazil, Nicaragua, Mexico, Mozambique, Dominican Republic, Cuba, accompanied by 50 members of FSPI as well as representatives from several international NGOs intended to visit the West Nusa Tenggara Province.
The delegation was to complete a mission to verify violations of peasant rights occurring while defending their livelihoods, which were committed by the local government, police, private sector and paramilitary actors.
The delegation had received an official licence from Jakarta Central Government to visit the area. This license was unexpectedly and without explanation unilaterally withdrawn on the eve of the visit.
On the morning of the 18th at 08.00 the local police intervened, attempting to dismiss a meeting of 700-1000 peasants waiting for the arrival of the La Via Campesina delegation. During the meeting with the international delegation the peasants intended to describe their situation including the violation of their rights since 1995. However, the police first prevented the arrival of international delegation, and forced disruption of the meeting. Peasant representative wanted to read a public declaration. The police did not allow this, and suddenly without warning began shooting into the gathering. As of 18th 16.00, 37 peasants were shot and wounded, some of them critically.
The international delegation was not allowed to visit the area. However, they managed to express their indignation regarding the violence against peasants, and to support the legitimate struggle to maintain their livelihoods in a rally in front of the local police headquarters (Polda NTB). The delegation spoke on behalf of peasants around the world. Paul Nicholson from Europe said, “We are shocked by the fact that it still not is possible for peasants in Indonesia to defend their legitimate rights without having to fear for their lives. As La Via Campesina we strongly protest against this and commit ourselves to give international support and solidarity to the peasants in Lombok. We will raise this issue in our countries and ask the Indonesian government to punish the perpetrators and guarantee the right of peasants to defend their livelihood. If the Indonesian Government fails to honor this request, we will bring the case to the UN-Human Rights Committee.
Juana Ferrer from the Dominican Republic said: “It is a shame that the government evicts peasants from their land, destroying food production in Lombok while at the same time this is a region where hunger is increasing among landless peasants having no access to food.
Henry Saragih, International Coordinator of La Via Campesina said, “We can not accept the criminal behaviour of the local government and police as they shoot without reason at peasants and do not allow us to meet, to receive the international delegation of La Via Campesina.“
La Via Campesina delegation has evaluated the situation and will take the following steps: In the next days support they will support FSPI through actions, and meetings with the international media Demand the police pull out their forces in peasants’ land Open access to peasants’ land and area and remove police blockades, so our peasants from other unions, FSPI, and also La Via Campesina can freely enter Start up an international campaign to demand the punishment of the perpetrators Push the Indonesian government to respect the rights of the peasants in Lombok to stay on their land and protect them against the violence of corporate greed Put this issue as a violation in human rights and will push this issue to be resolved as Indonesian Government is also part of UN Human Rights Committee
Contact persons Henry Saragih: International Co-ordinator La Via Campesina and Secretary General FSPI (Federation of Indonesian Peasant Organisations) Cell phone: +62-8163 144441
Ahmad Ya’kub, Deputy of Policy Studies and Campaign FSPI. Cell phone: +62 817712347
La Via Campesina delegation in Mataram: Cell phones: +62-8163-144441, +62-8158 6699975, +62- 8177 12347
Wahidjan, Serta NTB (West Nusa Tenggara Peasant Union), member of FSPI: Cell phone: +62 8175714911
Information about the land conflict The land conflict is located in Indonesia, Lombok in Tanak Awu and 3 other villages in central Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara Province. The Lombok government tries to evict the peasants of 850 hectares of very fertile, width land with irrigation infrastructure in order to build an international airport and develop tourism at the expense of agriculture and food production in the region. The conflict between the government represented by local municipality leaders and the peasants has led to severe oppression since 1995. On the 23rd of August 2005, 2.631 peasants of Tanak Awu were threatened by the local authorities, supported by the police to be eveicted if they do not get off the land. The local government and the private sector in Lombok present the new international airport as a plan with big advantage for the Lombok people. However the plan is in clear contradiction with the interest of the local population. Tourism is declining and is less impoprtant for the province; however food production is crucial given the fact that West Nusa Tenggara is the second province most affected by hunger and malnutrition diseases Marasmus and Kwarshiorkor. Despite of this the local government is looking for investors to build the airport. Paramilitary forces, police men and the private sector intimidater and oppress the peasants and try to “engineer” a positive civil society opinion organising meeting with selected participants favour of the plans.