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Killing of farmer becomes flashpoint for land grabs issues in Indonesia - experts comment

"Death of an Indonesian farmer: are companies doing enough to protect local communities?", 1 Apr 2015

The death of Pelani, who advocated for the rights of tenant farmers against the corporate takeover of their lands, has become a flash point for a bigger set of issues plaguing Indonesia...His death highlighted the increasingly volatile relationship between corporations and the people whose land they use to grow their products. Human rights and environmental groups reacted swiftly. Twenty-five European NGOs signed a letter of protest demanding that APP cooperate with police investigators and re-examine its corporate policies around resource exploitation in fragile areas. Greenpeace took it a step further and, while not cutting ties with APP altogether, did curtail its much-highlighted cooperation with the company on its foresting practices...APP responded to Pelani’s death by meeting with the farmer’s family, appointing a new security company in the district where the incident occurred, and now cooperating with the independent investigation by the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM)...But some say APP could do more to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Christine Bader,...former manager of policy development for BP, said APP should adopt...the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights...“I can say from my personal experience working for BP in Indonesia that the Voluntary Principles absolutely helped shape our relationship with the military and police for the better, in terms of our long-term relationships with local communities...Local communities are losing their land without their consent to large companies due to so-called legal land grabs. There are more than 500 villages with unresolved land claims in the 2.4m hectares of plantations that feed APP’s giant pulp mills...National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has received 1,126 complaints of human rights violations by corporations since 2012, with 446 cases related to land conflict.

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