Farmers clash with Indonesian military


Farmers clash with Indonesian military

By Hasan

NGAWI, East Java — On November 10, approximately 1500 farmers and 150 students from Students in Solidarity for Democracy in Indonesia (SSDI) held a mass demonstration in front of the Kabupaten Dati II Office Ngawi, East Java. They were demanding that the government and the plantation company PD Sumber Bakti return agricultural land that had been taken from the farmers without proper compensation.

This action continued a campaign that has included a delegation of Ngawi farmers appearing before the National Human Rights Commission and the Department of Home Affairs.

The farmers reached their destination in Ngawi in the morning and were joined by the students. The farmers and students then started an open forum and showed posters in front of the officials, who had just finished celebrating Heroes Day.

Farmer representatives read their demands. SSDI representatives read a statement supporting the struggle and demands of the farmers. A supporting statement was also read out by a delegation from the Centre for Struggle for Indonesian Workers (PPBI) and by farmers from various areas belonging to National Farmers Union (STN). A number of journalists including Indonesian, Reuters from England and SBS television from Australia, provided direct coverage of the action. An SBS television cameraman was detained.

Soldiers surrounded and barricaded the farmer-student group, then started punching and pushing. The group stood firm, shouting anti-military, pro-people slogans. The military then broke through their ranks, beating demonstrators with sticks, punching, kicking and spraying them with tear gas.

Several students and workers were injured and at least three students arrested.