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30 Jun 2020

Idon Tanjung, KOMPAS.com

Indonesia: Indigenous farmer released under Covid-19 assimilation programme, yet land disputes between indigenous community & paper giant continue

“Kisah Pak Bongku Warga Suku Sakai, Dipenjara gara-gara Tanam Ubi, Bebas karena Asimilasi”, 13 June 2020

Bongku Bin Jelodan…, a member of the Sakai indigenous community in…Riau, who was jailed for planting cassava on a company’s land was finally released.…Bongku was previously sentenced to one year in prison and fined IDR 200 million and an additional one month of imprisonment by the verdict of Bengkalis District Court Judge. …Bongku was released on 10 June 2020 through assimilation in accordance with  Permenkumham [Ministry of Law and Human Rights’ Regulation] No. 10/2020 on the terms and conditions of assimilation and integration for prisoners and juvenile inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the Minister of Law and Human Rights’ Decree No. M.HH-19.PK.0104.04 of 2020... Following the verdict [of the District Court], Bongku and his legal counsel filed an appeal on 22 May 2020. However, on 5 June 2020, Bongku withdrew the appeal. …During the course of the trial, none of the prosecution charges could be proven. Facts at the trial revealed that Bongku was a member of the Sakai indigenous community who lived nearby the disputed area. An expert on indigenous community from Lembaga Adat Melayu (LAM) Riau during the trial noted that the Sakai indigenous community had lived long before Indonesia existed, and were recorded in the LAM document. …Public Relation PT Sinar Mas…explained the beginning and cause of the disputes that occurred since 2001…However, between 2001 and 2019, a number of Sakai community members continued to try to occupy the land and stop company’s operations. …The company had also sought mediation, including by involving the Sub-district Head and Bangkalis Regency Legislative Council in 2012 and 2015, which resulted in MoUs, Minutes, and Agreements…