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Wednesday 14 December 2011

Indonesian peasant leader asks support for harassed colleagues

Indonesian peasant leader asks support for harassed colleagues

New Delhi : India | Dec 12, 2011 at 4:07 AM PST

By Portnip Pakangcharap in Kolkota, India and Gerry Albert Corpuz in Manila

Kolkata, INDIA - An Indonesia peasant leader of the Aliansi Gerakan Reform Agraria (AGRA) travelled several hours from Jakarta to this Indian state in South Asia to appeal for political support to his colleaguyes currently harassed by the Indonesian government.
The West Java coordinator of AGRA who attended the Coordinating Council Meeting (CC) of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) held on December said an international support against intimidation of four (4) AGRA farmers in Pangalengan, Bandung Regency, West Java Province of Indonesia is necessary to compel to the government to stop from persecuting his activist farmer colleagues.
According to Amran Halim, AGRA West Java Coordinator, “the land conflict started when the PDAP (Provincial Government Company on Agribusiness and Mining) itself is intensifying landlessness. The PDAP is said to be allowing local landlord or rich farmers to rent their so-called ‘lands’ because they cannot cultivate it.
However, this practice is not allowed by the law.” “Ancestors of Pangalengan peasant has been tilling the land, called Sampalan, before the Dutch established its power in 1602. When the Dutch came, they grabbed the land from the farmers. When the Dutch rule ended, the government of Indonesia continue the landgrabbing. And the rest is history,” added Amran.
Arman noted that in 2004, Pangalengan’s peasant succeeded in re-claiming their right to land in 134 hectares in Sampalan. They continue in cultivating the land, under the banner of AGRA.
Since then, the PDAP, police and the military started intimidation and violence against the Pangalengan peasants,” remarked Rahmat Ajiguna, APC Deputy Secretary General and concurrent Secretary General of AGRA ‘On October 24, 2011, in the afternoon, the PDAP, civilian, LPM RI, Pangalengan District Police, Military Headquarters at Ward Level of Pangalengan, Regency Bandung Police, tried to put a boundary pole in the Sampalan land that is cultivated by the peasants.
The AGRA farmers defended their lands and clashed with the PDAP supporters including the Pangalengan District Police and the Military Headquarters at Ward Level of Pangalengan, Regency Bandung Police.
On November 30, Regency Bandung police sent hundreds of policeman to Pangalengan to ‘secure’ the PDAP to mark the land: Once again the AGRA farmers in Pangalegan succeeded in defending their land. The police pulled-out on December 1,2011 from Pangalengan and stated that they will arrest the provocateurs, meaning, AGRA members.

This statement clearly defines that the criminalization of peasants fighting for genuine land reform will continue to ensure the PDAP langrabbing,” revealed Rahmat.
The Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), the mother international coalition whiich AGRA belongs said that on November 18 to 21, 2011, the Pangalengan farmers joined the AGRA in hosting the “Southeast Asia Workshop on Peasants Social Welfare and Security Empowerment”.
The event was attended by thirty (30) people coming from Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia. The activity aims to advocate through legislative measures the expansion of social security law for old age, health insurance and better working conditions for the benefit of the poor peasants, agricultural workers and peasant women. It also aims on awareness raising for the need for genuine land reform
The international participants that joined the workshop were inspired by the Pangalengan people who is cultivating the Sampalan land, an agricultural land planted with vegetables such as tomatoes, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, corn, banana, and chili. They vowed to support the struggle of Pangalengan farmers against the PDAP landgrabbing.
The APC and AGRA also calls for the implementation of genuine land reform and the recognition of the peasants right to land. Finally, they are demanding to de-list the names of four (4) AGRA Pangalengan members such as Momo, Yana, Ubus and Yaya as suspects in the notorious Article 170 Criminal Code.
The APC which is an Asia-wide peasant coalition of farmers, landless peasants, fisherfolks, agricultural workers, dalit, indigenous peoples, herders, pastoralists, peasant women and rural youth vowed to mobilize its 33 organizational members in support of AGRA farmers.

The APC maintains over 15 million membership in nine (9) countries in Asia such as Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Pakistan, Mongolia, Philippines and Indonesia. The APC has also wide international network in Africa , Europe, and Latin America.
In a related development, the militant fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) on slammed the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Manila over the agency's silence on the violent dispersal of youth activists participating in the December 6-10 Occupy Mendiola protest in Manila.
In a press statement, Pamalakaya, a member of APC said CHR Commissioner Etta Rosales is not doing her job to stop elements of Manila Police District (MPD) from inflicting human rights violations to student protesters opposing budget cuts in education and services and the current economic crisis in the country.
"The Occupy Mendiola activists were beaten black and blue by MPD cops for two successive days. and yet there is no reaction from the CHR chair. Perhaps she is enjoying every scene of police brutality and state terrorism and she is laughing all the way as mad policemen of MPD attacked the protesters. This is preposterous," said Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap.
"Chairperson Rosales should resign for not taking the side of human rights. This Noynoy Aquino appointee is deployed not to advocate human rights but to cover up human rights violators in the military and police allied with the Aquino camp. Her appointment as CHR chair by Aquino corresponds to the brutal and police state policy of Mr. Aquino," the Pamalakaya leader added.
Pamalakaya said if CHR chair Rosales really advocates respect for human rights and civil liberties, she will immediately issue a statement denouncing the violent dispersal and summon the police commander and subject all officials and members of MPD who took part in the two-day day of carnage against Occupy Mendiola protesters.
"She is supposed to open her big mouth literally and figurative speaking to rebuke the police action against protesters. But she did not do it for human rights and justice sake because she cannot go against the order of the appointing authority-- Mr. Aquino who awarded that CHR post to her," the group said.
Pamalakaya echoed the demand of staunch ally the labor activist center Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) to the junk criminal cases filed by MPD against several leaders of Occupy Mendiola protest that include former Anakpawis party list Rep. Joel Maglunsod and Anakbayan chairperson Vencer Crisostomo and five other "Mendiola occupiers".
The MPD charged the protestors with sedition, violations of the Public Assembly Act of 1985, resistance and disobedience to a person in authority, causing tumults and other disturbances of public order, malicious mischief and physical injury.
Pamalakaya said President Aquino has evidently banked on his 72 percent approval rating and 74 percent trust rating to justify the violent dispersal of student activists who planned to Occupy Mendiola beginning yesterday until Dec.10 in protest of huge budget cuts and other economic woes suffered by ordinary Filipinos," Hicap noted.
“President Aquino is using his high trust and approval rating as political franchise to bully, persecute and violate the very basic human rights of people highly critical of his non-performing administration. He is a cross breed of two former Presidents—Ferdinand Marcos and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. It would be extremely difficult to intervene with people like Mr. Aquino," said Pamalakaya.
“Mr. Aquino is running this country like a de facto dictator. For this political animal known as Noynoy Aquino what he wants and what does should be construed as right and proper, and politically and morally correct because he enjoys the support of the people. Such wishful thinking is very dangerous to this nation of over 100 million Filipinos,” the group added.
Pamalakaya likewise stressed that the Aquino administration has it own shares of grave human rights violations under the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan.
Citing the reports filed by human rights groups Karapatan, the group said there are 64 victims of extra judicial killings under the Aquino administration and 9 victims of enforced disappearance since Aquino took office last July 2010. Twenty eight of the victims of extrajudicial killings under Aquino administration as farmer activists.

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