EoF News (PEKANBARU)—On Friday, Indra Pelani (23) of Lubuk Mandarsah was killed by security guards hired by APP’s sister company PT. Wirakarya Sakti (WKS) in Bukit Tigapuluh landscape, Jambi Province, Sumatra. The village has been in conflict with WKS for a long time over their land tenure for 3,000 ha.
“We have known Indra through our forest monitoring training as a part of European Union FLEGT funded project, co-organized by WWF and Warsi. We will miss him. Our hearts are with his family,” said Aditya Bayunanda, Forest Commodity Leader WWF-Indonesia.
“We urge Jambi Police to conduct swift and conclusive investigation and SMG/APP to fully cooperate and be transparent in the investigation. WWF decided to suspend further discussion with APP on conservation issues until we see a significant closure of this conflict.”
On the day of the murder, “Tebo Farmers Group (Serikat Petani Tebo)” including the village was organizing a rice harvest festival. Indra came to a security post in the District 8 of WKS concession to pick up Nick Karim of Walhi Jambi to join the festival, then the security guards started to quarrel with Indra, then at least 7 security guards started to beat him up.
Walhi Jambi reported that Nick asked one security guard to help Indra from the brutal attack, but the guard rejected it. Nick then left the post to inform his colleagues and villagers of the incident. At least 30 villagers came to the post to ask for Indra, but the security guards said that he was not there.
According to Walhi Jambi, Indra’s corpse was found the next day in forest area 7 km away from the guard post, following a phone call by a WKS security guard to a Walhi activist. Indra’s corpse including his swollen face was covered by many bruises, cuts and stab wounds and his hands and legs were tied down. Witnesses said that his corpse was taken by a car while his head was covered by his own shirt.
“This appears to be a pre-meditated brutal murder,” said Riko Kurniawan, Executive Director of Walhi Riau, a member of the EoF coalition. “We hope that justice is done this time, unlike 2010 and 2012 cases in which two farmers were killed under similar circumstances arising from social conflicts with APP suppliers in Jambi and Riau.”
Earlier year, a joint NGO evaluation of APP’s social conflict resolution efforts showed a serious lack of progress in resolving many conflicts APP suppliers have. “This incident appears to be only the tip of an iceberg. Indra’s village has had long-lasting conflict with WKS. There are hundreds of such conflicts between local people and SMG/APP suppliers in Sumatra and Kalimantan,” said Muslim Rasyid, Coordinator of Jikalahari and EoF. “We call on SMG/APP to put serious efforts into resolving these conflicts as soon as possible.”
In 2014, EoF investigation of illegal activities on the APP corridor has uncovered that security personnels of another APP supplier, PT. Tebo Multiagro, were sometimes involved in illegal logging activities. APP had promised stern actions to correct this but it is still unclear whether there have been implementation.