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Agrarian Reform Priority Locations (Part-9)

Land Conflict Between Simpang Bayat Villagers and Pakerin Inc. at Musi Banyuasin

Muba – There is no light shine through the conflict between Simpang Bayat villagers and Pakerin Inc. Fast and strong act is needed to deal with the problem, which can be delivered by implementing agrarian reform, through releasing forestry area and giving ownership right certificate to villagers who cultivated forest area in available law opportunity.

Simpang Bayat village is located in Bayung Lencir subdistrict, Musi Banyuasin district, South Sumatra. It covers 65 square kilometers and consisted of two dusun populated by 2,281 people. Dusun one is located along causeway of Palembang-Jambi and is a housing of the villagers. Dusun two is the villagers’ agriculture area. The village was established in a period of 1948-1968 under Marga Bayat rule. In 1979, the ruler was changed into village administrator along with a redistricting of existed kampongs into several villages.

The development of Simpang Bayat village quite satisfactory, especially in fields of social , economy and people organization. It was proven by their success in establishing Village Unit Cooperative (KUD) on May 19th, 1991, under the name KUD Suka Maju. It was registered in trading service of Musi Banyuasin district by establishment number of 06102900007.

The cooperative was established with a mission to assist the villagers organization in cultivating 1,400 hectares of land. Through the KUD, the villagers received 10,000 rubber seedlings from Musi Banyuasin government. Though in the villagers’ hand the land was filled by various plants, such were beans, vegetables, fruits, etc.

In the beginning of 1992, the villagers peacefulness was disturbed by Pakerin Inc. arrival in their area. The company was given temporary Industrial Forest Concession Right (HPHTI) under the Decree of Minister of Forestry No. 642/kpts-II/1992 over ± 200.000 Ha. Ever since, part of the villagers’ cultivated land has started to be controlled by the company.

The villagers protested establishment of Industrial Forestry by the company. They kept on protesting for 6 years, until 1998. During the process, eight villagers were arrested. In 1998, a meeting was conducted between the villagers and the company, mediated by regional government. It resulted an agreement contained in the letter of minutes of compensation dated April 30th, 1999. They were: (1) For APL (land intended for other use), compensation for growing and planting was Rp 1 million/hectare, and after harvesting the land will be returned to the villagers; (2) For Production Forest (HP), compensation for growing and planting was Rp 400 thousands/hectare and after harvesting it will be returned to the state.

However, Pakerin Inc. ignored the agreement, especially on the point of returning the land to the villagers. It prolonged the conflict and the villagers were disappointed by the company’s action.

In 2004, the villagers went back to face the company to ask about the returning of their land. The company responded by making an agreement that they will pay rent for the disputed land. The payment will be executed at harvest as much as 10-15% per hectare. Still, the agreement could not be fulfilled because up until today, the company has not yet harvested the land.

The prolonged conflict was made into lesson learned by the villagers to keep strengthen and expand their movement through and organization called Sriwijaya Peasant Union (SPS). It was formerly called South Sumatra Peasant Council, which were assisted by South Sumatra Walhi.

On January 2010, the villagers occupied and reclaimed the land that was grabbed by Pakerin Inc. Before the action executed, SPS informed officers and government of their village, subdistrict, district and province. In 2011, the company along with security apparatus visited the land occupied by the villagers. It was lead into clash, which caused one villager of Simpang Bayat arrested and jailed for 9 months.

Since then, HPHTI area controlled by the company has not been actively managed, therefore the villagers started to control them again. Meanwhile, the villagers keep maintaining their organization actively and established local peasant organization of Simpang Bayat SPS.

In 2012, the Minister of Forestry revoked Pakerin’s concession under Minister of Forestry Decree No. 422/Menhut-II/2012 dated August 6th, 2012. The decree was issued as a response toward the villagers’ complaining letter to the ministry about the land grabbing by the company. The 1,400 hectares of land was controlled by 846 households who were divided into 16 groups.

After occupation, the villagers divided the land into several blocks. The majority of it was rubber, while their yard was planted of palawija. The villagers also built public facilites, such as mosque, roads, and school independently. The teachers work in the school were villagers who has enough skill and knowledge to teach.

Up until today, they already have an elementary school and junior high school. Those schools was arranged to have legal acknowledgement under a foundation. For the mean time, the elementary school had its main office at the nearest public elementary school, while the junior high school had its main office at a private junior high school in Bayung Lencir.

To keep on strengthening their movement in fighting for legalization over their cultivated land, the villagers regularly conducted activities in order to increase their capacity, especially on the basis, such as: education (on organization, paralegal trainings, and agrarian policy); meeting of local organizations; villagers’ governing area mapping; and other supporting activities.

They are now in the middle of making list of clear subjects, as one of their effort to obtain legal acknowledgement of the land, which incidentally administratively in forest area.

Considering those facts above, KPA assessed Simpang Bayat village has already met criteria to have agrarian reform implementation, in the form of releasing the land that has been cultivated by the villagers from forest area and distributing certificate of ownership to the villagers, as it was in accordance with Joint Regulation of Four Ministers of 2014 on Procedures of Resolution for Land Control in Forest Area.

To be continued. . .

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