Indonesia: Indigenous farmer released under Covid-19 assimilation programme, yet land disputes between indigenous community & paper giant continue
Bongku Bin Jelodan, member of the Sakai indigenous community in Riau, Indonesia, was jailed for planting cassava on company Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas's disputed land. He was 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 and integration for prisoners and juvenile inmates to prevent the spread of COVID-19. During the course of the trial, none of the prosecution charges could be proven. 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 Riau during the trial noted that the Sakai indigenous community had lived long before Indonesia existed. In 2012 and 2015, the company had previously sought mediation with the community. We invited Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas to respond - their full response is available below. We also reached out to the largest banks, publicly listed as investing in Sinar Mas's Indonesian operations - Bank Central Asia, Bank Negara, Bank Rakyat, China Development Bank, Mizuho Financial and Rabobank: we received a response from Rabobank, which is available below. We will continue adding other responses if and when we receive them.