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Agrarian Conflict Protracts, More than 20 Thousands of People Urge to Free Pakel Banyuwangi Farmers

Has fallen down the stairs. That is the case with Pakel Banyuwangi farmers, East Java. The land conflict has dragged on, the residents are trying to keep fighting to maintain living space from a large-scale plantation, PT Bumi Sari, now they have to face the law. Three farmers, Mulyadi, Suwarno and Untung became suspects. The three were charged with broadcasting false news or notifications with deliberate intent to cause confusion among the people.

Solidarity flows. A petition calling for “Revoke PT Bumi Sari’s HGU, Free 3 Pakel Farmers, Banyuwangi and Realize Agrarian Justice,” on, has been signed by 21,986 people as of Sunday (12/2/23), afternoon.

The story is that five residents of Pakel, Mulyadi, Suwarno, Untung, Ponari, and Hariri (the driver) wanted to go to Aliyan Village to attend a Banyuwangi Village Head Association meeting using a village car, February 3 at around 18.30 WIB.

On the way to Cawang, South Rogojampi, around 19.30’s, the car he was traveling in suddenly had to reduce speed because the black car in front suddenly stopped.

It is suspected that the black car deliberately created a traffic jam so that the car in which it was traveling stopped. Behind the car in which the Pakel resident was traveling, there were two black and white cars approaching until they were squeezed.

Suddenly, they were visited by six unidentified people who were suspected of being intelligence agents. The six people asked the passengers of the village car to get off.

Mulyadi, Suwarno and Untung were herded into a car which stopped them. Hariri, who previously drove the village car, was asked to drive the car accompanied by four people.

Ponari, also joined the group of village cars with the four abducted residents who were left at the scene.

The arrests of the four Pakel residents tended to be like kidnappings because they were unprofessional and not according to procedure.

Currently, Mulyadi, Suwarno and Untung are being detained at the East Java Regional Police. Meanwhile, Hariri, the village car driver, had returned to Pakel.

This arrest is allegedly related to the three Pakel residents in January 2023 absenting themselves from an inspection summons from the East Java Regional Police.

Wahyu Eka Setiawan, Director of the East Java Walhi, assessed that since the beginning of this case, the Polri institution, specifically the East Java Regional Police, showed their unprofessionalism. They demanded that the East Java Regional Police immediately release the three detained Pakel Banyuwangi fighters.

Walhi East Java urges ATR BPN, Komnas HAM and related institutions to seriously defend human rights, especially those who are fighting for their land. In January 2022 , Pakel residents also reported their case to Komnas HAM .

Previously, Mulyadi, Suwarno and Untung were named as suspects who were charged under Article 14 and/15 of Law Number 1/1946 concerning Criminal Law Regulations.

The three of them were accused of broadcasting false news or notifications with intention to cause disturbance among the people. By letter Number: S. Pgl/174/RES. 1.24/2023/Ditreskrum dated January 16, the East Java Regional Police summoned three Pakel Banyuwangi residents to come to the East Java Regional Police, January 19, 2023.

Residents received the new letter the next day, January 20, 2023. However, he said, the letter was found to be flawed, there was no explanation of when and where the incident of spreading lies took place.

“The implementation of Article Law No. 1/1946 can no longer be used because Indonesia has a Criminal Law Law,” said Ahmad Sofian, a criminal expert responding to the determination of the three Pakel residents in a public online discussion ‘Criminalization of Farmers and Pakel Agrarian Conflict, Banyuwangi in the Sengkuni Vortex ‘ late last January.

According to him, Article 14 can only be applied if trouble arises because of fake news. “You have to check whether it’s fake news or not. If the news is true and can be proven in court, you cannot be charged with this article even if there is trouble. While the evidence in this article is in the form of witnesses, letters, leaflets or documents that are distributed.”

Herlambang P Wiratrama, a legal expert at Gajah Mada University, also commented on this case. The case that occurred in Pakel, he said, was not new, only repeating the story of failure in resolving agrarian conflicts.

“Our agrarian law policy did not really try to resolve it, especially when dealing with cases of usurpation of people’s land rights that occurred during the New Order era of control,” he said.

He said that almost all cases related to land grabbing conflicts in the past were criminalized. This condition relates to law and law enforcement.

“They have only succeeded in imprisoning farmers, but they have not changed efforts to resolve basic agrarian conflicts,” he said.

The criminalization that befell farmers, he said, was an illustration of land for agrarian objects (Tora) that the state had failed to seek.

“The criminalization of peasants only repeats the story of the state’s failure to understand how agrarian conflicts should be resolved in a just and legal manner.”

The arrest of Pakel farmer by the apparatus, he said, would only increase the number of victims of agrarian injustice.

This criminalization, he said, must be stopped because it is a form of human rights violation.

During 2020-2023, 14 Pakel residents became victims because of their struggle to defend their land rights.

Previously, on January 14 2022, the Banyuwangi Police entered the land that the residents had reoccupied. Violence also occurred against residents and the solidarity struggle team, namely, Wulan, Har, Fauzi, and Esa.

Long before that, data from the People’s Movement Advocacy Working Team for Agrarian Sovereignty and Natural Resources (Tekad Garuda) stated that, in November 2021, 11 Pakel residents received summons from the police, two of whom became suspects.

In June 2021, Pakel residents and their team of legal assistants filed a complaint against this case and a hearing with the Presidential Staff Office. There was no significant response, even in December 2021, two Pakel residents received another summons from the police.

On October 26, 2022, Pakel residents conveyed their case to Hadi Tjahjanto, Minister of ATR/BPN at KATR/BPN, Jakarta.

According to Garuda’s determination, during the meeting, KATR/BPN promised to immediately visit Banyuwangi and seek various steps for a settlement.

Regarding this series of incidents, the legal team for Pakel residents who are members of the Advocacy Working Team for the People’s Movement for Agrarian Sovereignty and Natural Resources (Tekad Garuda) demanded several things.

First , urging Komnas HAM for investigations, legal protection and various strategic measures for Pakel residents. Also, urging the National Police Chief, the East Java Regional Police Chief, and the Banyuwangi Police Chief to stop criminalizing the Pakel residents.

Second, urging the ATR/BPN Ministry to revoke the Bumi Sari HGU. Third , to urge the Banyuwangi Police Chief to revoke the suspect status of two Pakel residents, on behalf of Sagidin, and Muhadin.

Fourth , according to the East Java Regional Police Chief, three Pakel residents were revoked as suspects: Mulyadi (village head), Suwarno (hamlet head), and Untung (hamlet head).

Fifth , urge Kompolnas to evaluate the performance of the East Java Regional Police and Banyuwangi Police in the criminalization case that befell Pakel residents.

Garuda’s determination also urged the National Police Chief, the East Java Regional Police Chief, and the Banyuwangi Police Chief to investigate the alleged criminal act of illegal land acquisition in Bumi Sari.

This land issue began in 1925 , around 2,956 residents submitted applications for the opening of the Sengkan Kandang and Keseran forests, located in Pakel, Licin, Banyuwangi, to the Dutch colonial government.

Data from the East Java Walhi stated that four years later, on January 11, 1929, the request was granted. They got the right to clear a forest area of ​​4,000 shoulders (3,000 hectares) from the Banyuwangi Regent, RAAM Notohadi Suryo.

Even though they had the “Deed of 1929” permit, the Pakel residents often experienced various acts of intimidation and violence from the Dutch and Japanese colonial governments.

After independence, the people of Pakel continued to fight for certainty over their right to clear the forest as stated in the “Deed of 1929”.

In the 1980s, the land managed by the residents which was included in the “Deed 1929” entered the concession of the plantation company Bumi Sari. Agrarian conflicts continue to occur until now.

File a pretrial and rally support

Jauhar Kurniawan, a Tekad Garuda member, said the legal team for Pakel residents chose to take pretrial proceedings.

“To seek justice and realize agrarian justice in East Java, especially the peasants and marginalized communities, we are taking a pretrial.”

On January 30, the team registered the case for naming the Pakel resident as a suspect at the Banyuwangi District Court.

Starting January 20, 2023, he said, Tekad Garuda is also trying to expand support by raising Solidarity Letters from academics and Indonesian civil society organizations.

As of January 30, 2023, there were dozens of academics and legal experts who joined this Letter of Solidarity, including the University of Indonesia, Gadjah Mada University, Airlangga University, and several other campus academics.

The collected Solidarity Letters will be sent to President Joko Widodo, the Minister of ATR/BPN, the National Police Chief, Komnas HAM, and Kompolnas.

“In the letter, we urge President Jokowi and all relevant government institutions to immediately resolve the cases experienced by Pakel residents,” said Taufiqurochim, Tekad Garuda administrator.

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