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Indonesia: Palm oil & mining companies embroiled in land disputes with rural communities allegedly taking advantage of COVID-19 outbreak

"Land conflicts escalate with spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia", 15 April 2020

Two people have died in a series of land disputes between major companies and rural communities in Indonesia. Activists have denounced the escalation in the conflicts, saying businesses shouldn’t be taking advantage of the country’s focus on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic to further their own — often illegal — interests. On March 21, security personnel from the palm oil firm PT Artha Prigel clashed with farmers in Lahat district, in South Sumatra province. Two farmers were killed in the fighting, the latest flare-up in a conflict that goes back nearly three decades. Locals accuse the company — a subsidiary of the Sawit Mas Group, which supplies oleochemicals to Procter & Gamble — of stealing their land…

In East Java’s Mount Tumpang Pitu, locals have erected tents to protest against mining activity by PT Bumi Suksesindo and PT Damai Suksesindo. They’re also protesting a plan to expand the gold mining operation into nearby Mount Salakan, where PT Damai Suksesindo has a permit… Residents ordered to cease their protest by the government have questioned why the government doesn’t also order the companies to suspend operations during the pandemic… The pandemic has also affected the legal process for three indigenous farmers in the Bornean province of Central Kalimantan.

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