Indonesia: SPI calls for urgent solidarity with imprisoned peasant leader

Serikat Petani Indonesia, one of the country’s prominent peasant unions and a member of La Via Campesina, has issued a letter seeking solidarity from social movements and civil society, in connection with the imprisonment of one of their leaders. Here is the full text;

RELEASE JUNAWAL BIN SUKINO, THE DEFENDER OF AGRARIAN REFORM!

On May 26, 2020, police arrested Mr Junawal Bin Sukino, Chairperson of Serikat Petani Indonesia’s (SPI) Tebo District division, who has been at the forefront of the struggle against eviction in Napal Putih Village, which falls in the Jambi province of Indonesia. Napal Putih is a village built through the collective efforts of peasant families, enabled by the Agrarian Reform program of the Indonesian government. Police have accused Junawal of setting fire to five units of heavy equipment owned by PT Lestari Asri Jaya (PT LAJ) – a subsidiary company of PT. Barito Pacific (Indonesia) and the Michelin Group (France) – on May 14, 2019.

However, what these arrest discount are the countless violations carried out by PT LAJ in the region, in the name of sustainable rubber plantation.

Since 2012, SPI Peasants in Tebo Regency, Jambi Province, have been protesting large scale land encroachment by PT LAJ. This company has a permit area of 61,495 hectares and has received funding from Tropical Landscapes Financial Facilities (TLFF), a partnership between the UN Environment, World Agroforestry Centre, ADM Capital and BNP Paribas. Under a US$ 95 million Sustainability Bond, this partnership finances a sustainable natural rubber plantation in two provinces in Indonesia, one of them in the Jambi province. Since May 2018, PT LAJ carries out forestry plantation at Bukit Tigabuluh National Park (TNBT). Peasants allege that in the name of “natural rubber plantations” and forestry what is indeed happening is large scale corporate land grabbing, with the backing of international institutions.

In Tebo, Napal Putih is among the many villages built and maintained by peasant families organised under Serikat Petani Indonesia (SPI). Over the years, the peasant union (SPI) has made significant steps towards ensuring people’s food sovereignty. Here, the peasant families have created a self-sustaining ecosystem where they grow crops through agroecological methods. The union has also built houses, schools, places of worship and developed a local peasant market and distribution system run by local people-led cooperatives. PT LAJ’s acquisition in the region is derailing years of efforts of the peasant families in creating a self-sustaining livelihood mechanism. Instead of holding the Corporation accountable, the local authorities have arrested and criminalised a young leader of the union.

Serikat Petani Indonesia, one among the prominent peasant unions in the country, has organised several mobilisations, demanding Junawal’s release and dismissal of all charges against him. One such demonstration, held outside the Police headquarters in Tebo district, had nearly 4000 peasants participating in it. As a movement of peasant families across Indonesia, Serikat Petani Indonesia is firm on its demand and is seeking solidarity from social movements within and outside the country to stand with us, until Junawal is released and until PT LAJ withdraws from its operations in the region. We appeal to our sisters and brothers around the world to step up the pressure on local authorities and alert this violation to global institutions.

There are several ways in which you could help express your solidarity;

  • Organisations/Individuals could prepare a letter of solidarity addressed to the Government of Indonesia as well as the French Embassy in Indonesia, and echo the demands of Serikat Petani Indonesia.
  • In your phone, you could record a video/audio message of solidarity and

The messages, as already stated, could echo our two main demands;

  • Release Junawal immediately and dismiss all the charges against him
  • PT LAJ should be held accountable for large scale land grabbing and should immediately withdraw from the region.

Please send these messages before July 12, 2020, by email to spi@spi.or.id .Let us truly globalise our struggles and globalise our hope for a better, and just world that respects people’s food sovereignty.


SERIKAT PETANI INDONESIA

09 JULY 2020

Further information: Zainal Arifin Fuat – +62 812 8932 1398 / zainal@spi.or.id

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