Indonesia: Stop Criminalising Peasants!

Stop the criminalisation of five peasants of SPI in West Sumatera-Indonesia!

To the President of the Republic of Indonesia,

To the Chief of Police of the Republic of Indonesia,

We, La Via Campesina, the international peasant movement, express our deep concern about the criminalisation of five peasants of Aia Gadang Village, West Pasaman District, West Sumatera Province, who are a member of the Indonesian Peasants’ Union – Serikat Petani Indonesia (SPI).

Wisnawati (32, F), Idamri (39, M), Safridin (41, M), Rudi (31, M) and Jasman (45, M) have been wrongly accused of committing a crime in public spaces and committing violence. They have been in police detention since 14 July 2022.

We are informed that this arrest is the aftermath of the incident on 28 May 2022, when the peasants were struggling and agitating against the palm oil plantation firm Anam Koto. This agitation is part of Serikat Petani Indonesia’s movement for an agrarian reform that favours peasants and small-scale producers.

For a long time, peasant communities have been protesting the plantation firms’ illegal destruction of crops and houses and denouncing their intimidation tactics. Finally, on 28 May 2022, at around 09.00 am, the firm’s officials illegally entered the peasants’ land. They sprayed poison and wrecked the planted crops. Peasants who cultivate this land protested and demanded the firms’ employees and security guards leave immediately. Chaos and clashes ensued, leading to the arrest of five peasant members of Serikat Petani Indonesia. By responding only to the plantation firms’ complaints, the police arbitrarily arrested the peasants. This action by police is discriminatory and unjust. The police have also ignored the complaints filed by the peasant communities against the plantation firm on 13 April 2022, which cites multiple violations by the company.

The police brought the case to the Court on 12 August 2022, and the trial on the case began on 22 August and is ongoing.

As a global social movement of peasants, indigenous people and small-scale food producers in 81 countries, La Via Campesina condemns these actions and denounces all attempts to criminalise and persecute peasants who struggle for their land rights.

La Via Campesina calls on the Government of Indonesia to stop criminalisation and intimidation against the peasants and ensure their unconditional release. We need the government to realise that the detention of five peasants defending their land is a big mistake. Their actions were in defence of their rights as peasants, especially the Right to Land and Natural resources and Rights to adequate food. These rights are guaranteed to us in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), based on which the state is obliged to fulfil, protect and respect their rights.

La Via Campesina

Bagnolet, France | 25 August 2022