Learn From Agrarian Conflict in Desa Limbang Jaya South Sumatera Province: Should be Running to Where?

By: Ade Indriani Zuchri (Chairman of Sarekat Hijau Indonesia)

Agrarian or resource conflicts are getting serious. Unclear land-use planning (including the designation of forest areas), along with the government’s attitude which seems to allow these conflicts to happen, are only making the situation worse. Companies come in to inhabited lands, or land owned by local or indigenous people. Conflicts arise between the people, or between the people and the company or the state. More often than not, it’s the people that lose out.

Points of friction keep on arising. Resource conflicts causing loss of life and property have continued all year long. Data from Walhi (Indonesia Forum for environmental) indicates that in 2011 t
here were 8307 agrarian conflicts, and 4302 cases that had been resolved. Our portrait of land conflict this month begins with the action of around 600 farmers from Ogan Ilir Regency, South Sumatra, who came to Jakarta looking for justice. Since the 1980s their land has been taken by PTPN VII Cinta Manis using military force.
They brought with them a letter from the South Sumatra National Land Agency, showing that while PTPN VII only has commercial use rights for 4881.24 hectares of land, they have obtained a permit in principle for 20,000 hectares. The National Land Agency will not process their commercial use rights until the local people’s claims are resolved.

A letter supporting the people’s position was issued by the Governor of South Sumatra on 15th June 2012. In a letter signed by the vice-governor Eddy Yusuf, he asked for a re-evaluation of the land where commercial use rights had been issued, and that the land which was not covered by Commercial use rights be returned to the people. With this letter, the governor was asking the Ministry of state-owned enterprises to pay attention to the farmers’ demands.
Unfortunatly, after actions and dialogue with various institutions, such as the BPN and police, no agreement was obtained from the ministry of state owned enterprises and PTPN VII. The people returned The people home empty-handed.

Because so many agrarian conflicts had been occurring, President SBY addressed the issue in a limited cabinet session at the Attorney General’s office on Wednesday 25th. The president said that he had received many complaints about land issues. Letters or messages complaining about issues such as overlapping land claims arrived nearly every week.

Dealing with land conflicts should not simply be matter for the police. Co-ordination with the BPN must be put in place. Apart from that, local officials such as regency or subdistrict leaders have to co-ordinate to avoid conflict.

SBY then highlighted the fact that in cases where ‘horizontal’ violence broke out between two groups of local people, the police rarely took swift and thorough action.

Unfortunately, it seems that SBY’s fine words meant nothing to his assistants and security forces. Just two days later, deadly conflict returned to Ogan Ilir between PTPN VII Cinta Manis and local farmers. Forces from the police mobile brigade (Brimob) searched villages in the company. Clashes broke out with the police in Limbang Jaya village, resulting in a child shot dead and five injured.
At that time, conditions around PTPN VII Cinta Manis became entrenched. Police forces searched Lubuk Keliat village, arresting people who were later released. The sweeping operation continued in Betung village as the people were engaged in Friday prayers.
The search continued in neighbouring villages, starting with Sri Kembang village. Around 16.00 Brimob forces swept through Tanjung Pinang village towards Limbang Jaya. Hundreds of fully-armed Brimob troops in at least seven trucks arrived in Limbang Jaya.

Where Womens Stand?
In Indonesia, if a woman’s ownership interest in land, as granted in a country’s marriage law, is not supported through the country’s land law, and more specifically its land registration law, the ownership rights granted under its marriage law may very well be meaningless. This is because ownership, as granted by legislation, may not be known or understood, especially in rural areas of developing countries. In these settings, the actual name on the title or in the registration records may carry far greater significance in terms of perceptions of ownership.

Thus, when property rights are granted in national legislation, they may not translate into functional landownership if the physical title or registration records do not also list women’s names as co-owners.
This lack of registered ownership rights for women can harm their interests in two ways. First, because such women may not recognize themselves as landowners, the benefits of women’s landownership (for example, increased leverage within the household and increased control over family income) will not fully accrue to them. Second, if a woman is not a registered owner, she may be deprived of her land ownership right through a land sale orchestrated by her husband or may be denied her share of the couple’s landholding at the time of divorce or widowhood. A woman might lose her land rights through an unauthorized transfer by her husband because officials overseeing transfers, the transferee, and perhaps even the transferring household itself, may not realize that the wife is a co-owner of land who must be consulted and give her approval before land can be sold.

Similarly, a woman who is not a registered owner may be deprived of her land right at the time of divorce, as her husband may view the land, which is only recorded in his name, as his exclusive possession.

Ibu Sartinah, 43 years old, women farmer in Betung Village, Ogan Ilir District said to Ade (WP Contributor), sometimes we don’t have much time for take a rest, we know we just a wife, but there is no attention for us, my husband say, everything in this house take for your responsibility, so where i should to tell my problem, every women in this village make a same problem with me, and for the future, i dont wanna my daughter no have chance like me, we need organization for to share and telling about our problem, cause the land not only have the man, but my own too, everyday we working at there, land like my child, i take care and i singing for them, so i cant let them go..

For the question, what kind organization they need? I try to discuss with Anwar Sadat (South Sumatera Environmental Forum Director) . In a majority of the world, women are responsible for farm work and related domestic food production, for the example more than 90% of women in the developing world, where most of the planet’s biological wealth is found, depend on their land for survival. Women head 30% of the households in developing countries, 80% of food production in sub-Saharan Africa is done by women, 60% in Asia and 50% in Latin America. Even though women are largely responsible for the actual agricultural work performed, men, generally own the land, therefore controlling women’s labor upon the land. we know, we have problem for this issue, focus based on the man only, we know, for this year, we try to ask women’s organization in South Sumatera for support them, and try to make organization for them. Because we know our experience not much for answer they problem. We have already discuss with the stakeholders, and we hope, we can try to realization in october 2013.

Eka Wati from the Palembang Women’s Solidarity said to me, based on they experience manage and organize women farming in Ogan Ilir District, Given the environmental degradation caused while men have had dominance over women, and women’s large investment in environmental suistainability, some have theorized that women would protect the Earth better than men if in power. Although there is no evidence for this hypothesis, recent movements have shown that women are more sensitive to the earth and its problems. They have created a special value system about environmental issues. People’s approaches to environmental issues may depend on their relationship with nature. Both women and nature have been considered as subordinates entities by men throughout history, which conveys a close affiliation between them.