(Pekanbaru, EoF News) – Riau provincial legislative council (DPRD Riau) pledged to forward complaint filed by villagers of Pinggir sub-district of Bengkalis over alleged land seizure committed by PT Arara Abadi, a plantation timber company belongs to Asia Pulp & Paper (APP).
The local parliament, DPRD, promised dozens of residents visiting the legislative compound in Pekanbaru, on Friday (Nov 24) to forward recommendation to Riau Governor and Minister of Forestry to return their land that seized by Arara Abadi.
The villagers including Sakai indigenous people claimed that Arara Abadi take over their land illegally and commit violence against those who protest the company. They said conflicts occurred between the villagers and the company’s security guards who are backed up by the police.
The protesters accused the APP’s subsidiary of seizing their customary rights of indigenous Sakai, Talang, and Petalangan Mamak tribes who live nearby the timber plantation. The seizure caused the locals losing their livelihoods, they argued.
The villagers from five villages have staged rallies previously and subsequently filed their petition to DPRD’s Commission A on Friday. On the second meeting they were also accompanied by prominent Riau autonomy whistleblower, Tabrani Rab.
Hendra Masdarta, a local parliamentarian who consulted with villagers, said, “The only solution is to see the minister [of forestry] and recommend him to review license of PT Arara Abadi’s HTI concession.”
The villagers told the commission representatives that they were intimidated by the police hired by the company due to the locals worked on their dispute land.
The residents also urged the government to revoke the company’s license, and protect the customary rights of Riau indigenous peoples of Sakai, Talang Mamak and Petalangan as well as to build public facilities for the locals.
Walhi (Friends of Earth Indonesia) studied that Arara Abadi has clearcut over 3,000 hectares of Sakai people’s forest and engaged in violent conflicts with the locals.
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