INDONESIA - Peasants struggle against further landgrabbing

Last week, there were again clashes between peasants and security forces in the Toba district (North Sumatra). The peasants resisted further plantings of eucalyptus trees in the public country.

The clashes between the security forces and the peasants is already a long struggle. Since the end of the 1990, the residents, especially the peasants, protest around the Toba Lake against the landscrews of the government and the Group PT Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL). With the construction of the group, the Indonesian government was brought to producing the cheapest pulp worldwide. The peasants and the residents and the area showed their resistance and protested against the TPL Group and the government at the beginning of the construction and commissioning. On the one hand, land was stolen for the construction of the TPL Group country and, on the other hand, large surfaces of forest are destroyed. The largest consumer of wood is, among other things, the pulp industry. All Sumatra is busy with pulp and paper mills, in the midst of the tropical rainforest. Due to the great resistance by the people, the TPL Group could only be in operation with a large police facility.

The harmful consequences for the population quickly came with them. Decline in fish stocks, sour rain, air pollution, decline of travelers, diseases and lowering water level of the Toba lake. In addition, the immediate residents around the forest was banned the use of the forest!

For faster production, the pine wood inventory of the forests was replaced by eucalyptus plants. In 1990, ten women tore these plants, from protest against the land robber and the ban on forest use - they were sentenced to six months in prison. Due to the great resistance from the people, they were released and exposed to the punishment for probation.

There were other great protests from the people. Due to the pressure of the people, the government accelerated the further construction of the factory, so it came to many accidents and many people came to life. Due to the continuous resistance and regular malfunction, the factory was closed.

After the sale of the TPL Group to an international banking cosortium, which is 96.6% owner of the factory (USA, UK, France, Holland, Japan), the Group became PT Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL) and resumed the operation. Further areas were expropriated, so TPL now has 200,000 hectares for wood planting. The pulp is now sold to China. Since 2003, the surrounding area of ​​the TPL Group has been a busy area. The residents were regularly pressed by the police and intimidated. In the middle of the night police carried through the villages, shot around with their guns for intimidation and lit houses of peasants. The protests by the population has getting bigger, regular demonstrations from the peasants and the villagers, support causages of student. Regular arrests and injuries of the demonstrators accompanied the resistance in these years. Since men were immediately arrested by the police, women continued the protests and blocked the streets every day.

In 2013, the terrain of TPL should be extended and again areas of the peasants and the villagers should be expropriated. Another 4,000 ha land should be used for the further construction of eucalyptus plants. But the inhabitants and peasants were resistant, put a factory vehicle on fire. On the following day, the police marched into the village and took 31 people. More than 1,000 people protested against these arrests in front of the police station.

In 2017, the peasants successfully struggled against the construction of a street, which should be another access road to the factory. This construction would have filed the drinking water and could also be watered for a long time, due to the group, the rice fields are no longer watered. They successfully blocked the streets and thus could prevent the construction of another access road.

Also last week, workers of TPL should put more eucalyptus plants, on the land of farmers, they have been accompanied by a police facility. But they also seemed successful this time, leaving the plantations and retreated to the TPL Group and the police.

The struggle of the peasants and the people of Toba Lake is justified!