Legislators say objective approach needed for Rupat's conflict

EoF News / 30 November 2011

EoF News (PEKANBARU)-- Following riot in concession of PT Sumatera Riang Lestari, a timber supplier affiliated to Asian Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL), in Pulau Rupat island nearly two weeks ago, some groups urged the Government to resolve the conflict.

Two separate groups held rallies in Pekanbaru and Bengkalis on Monday to urge the Government to seek solution to settle down conflict between community of Pulau Rupat against PT SRL,  an APRIL's timber supplier.Mob ran amock in PT SRL site nearly two weeks ago (17 Nov) where six heavy machines and a workers camp owned by the APRIL' timber supplier were burned down by people.

There is no casualty due to the incident. Media reports said that Bengkalis district police detained a man allegedly involved in the violence. In Pekanbaru, a group of Pulau Rupat students called HPMR went to Riau Legislative Council to demand the legislators to facilitate conflict settlement as well as to help halt the company's operation in the island, Tribun Pekanbaru daily reported Tuesday (29/11)."Free Rupat residents whom detained in Bengkalis Police Office," read a banner the demonstrators spread.

HMPR group then moved to yard of Riau Governor Office to urge the official to settle down the conflict immediately to prevent worsening conflict.Bagus Santoso and Zulkarnaen Nurdin met the protesters and said DPRD Riau's Commission A would help the students to facilitate their cause to police. Zulkarnaen said that law enforcement on the incident should be upheld, but the police should be objective and the company should be responsible too for the riot.

Bagus called on PT SRL to halt operation in an attempt to restrain from prolonged conflict.Meanwhile, Misliadi, legislative council member of DPRD Bengkalis District, said that police should also probe issuance of logging license granted to PT Sumatera Riang Lestari in Pulau Rupat as well as the company's arrogance shown to community of the small island."We call on police for not looking at only crime's side.

It is so good to see the core of problem likely turns out to be its trigger. If [the police] merely see on the crime's side I think this problem will not be accomplished," said the legislator as quoted by RiauTerkini.com as saying (21/11).While, Rusmadya Maharuddin of Greenpeace, said that logging moratorium for PT SRL should be enacted in Pulau Rupat for giving an opportunity to review and amend situation in the island.

PT SRL has operation in four blocks with total concession of 148,075 hectares for pulpwood plantation, an official of Riau Forestry Service said. EoF investigations found in some concessions that PT SRL clearcut natural forest in peatlands and drained peat canals and destroyed red list Ramin trees, in addition to incite social conflicts with communities claiming their land managed for pulpwood plantation. "We're fed up for a long time with PT SRL," said Safarin, a resident shortly before violence broke out that also damaged eight workers camps nearly two weeks ago. "Seemingly they [the company] ignore the demand of Rupat community," he added complaining over several meetings facilitated by the Government that PT SRL failed to follow, Riau Pos reported (18/11).

He said that the agreement concluded that the company should not work on the disputed land until concensus made. The community also urged the company to stay away 15 kilometer off  the coast, yet the company ignored this.Public Relation of PT SRL, Abdul Hadi,  regretted the violence and pledged to find out solution to resolve the problem, Riau Pos reported.