Friday, December 16, 2011

Indonesia to Investigate Beheadings of Farmers


Foreign plantations believe Indonesia third world country, should be nationalized, officers and security prosecuted for murder

Associated Press 
By Niniek Karmini
12/16/2011 

 JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) —

Indonesia's president has ordered an investigation into the videotaped beheadings of two men — allegedly by security forces hired to secure the borders of a palm oil plantation.

    Six suspects — five plantation workers and a farmer — already have been arrested for their alleged role in the deaths, national police spokesman Col. Boy Raffli Amar said Friday. Eight other suspects are at large.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
Indonesia is one of the world's largest producers of palm oil — used to make everything from lipstick to biscuits to biofuel — and the rapid expansion of plantations across the sprawling archipelagic nation of 240 million has led to many violent disputes with local communities.

Land is often forcibly seized — also by timber, pulp and paper companies — without any offers of compensation. But the allegations by farmers from South Sumatra province would be, if confirmed, by far the most shocking.

    A dozen men traveled to the capital, Jakarta, earlier this week to present their case before Parliament's human rights commission.

   They told its members that at least 30 farmers have been killed by security forces and men hired by a palm oil company in Mesuji district since 2009 — two of them beheaded before a crowd in April.

    They presented two video clips as evidence.

   One showed an unidentified man dressed in black taking a short knife to the neck of his victim. Other masked assailants toting assault rifles could be seen milling around in the background.

   In the second clip, a headless corpse could be seen hanging from an electricity pole, several mutilated bodies lying on the ground below.

  Ifdhal Kasim, who heads the National Commission on Human Rights, condemned the killings.

   But the details, he said, remain very murky.

  There appear to have been several, separate deadly clashes in the last year between farmers and three palm oil companies in Mesuji — which straddles South Sumatra and Lampung provinces.

   As concession sizes grew, he added, thousands of people were driven from their homes.

Palm oil now commanding heavy price
Facing protests, one of the companies formed an integrated security team, consisting of civilian guards, members of an elite police unit and military troops to protect their plantation, he said.


    "It's not clear who was behind the beheadings or the other killings," he said. "But if there's even a hint that security forces were involved, they should be investigated first."

   Farmers also appeared to have killed at least five plantation workers and security guards in retaliation for the beheadings, he said.

    President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, meanwhile, said he was shocked by the claims.

    He immediately sent a task force made up of officials from the Ministry of Security and the national police to investigate, according to his spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha.

 Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

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