3 die as villagers clash against pulpwood company

EoF News / 02 June 2009

PEKANBARU (EoF News)—At least three villagers were killed following bloody clash between community and security guards of a pulpwood plantation company, PT Sumatera Silva Lestari (SSL) in Rokan Hulu district, Riau Province, a local website reported today.

A 1,000-hectare land dispute between the community of Bangun Purba village, Rambah Hilir sub-district against security guards and staff of PT Sumatera Silva Lestari occurred on Thursday (29 May 2009), Riau Terkini website reported Tuesday (2 June 2009).

“The three villagers died following the clash against the company side. Two died instantly in the location and another one had been taken first to RSUD Pasir Pengaraian hospital,” said M. Abrar, head of Bangun Purba sub-district.

Abrar said that the clash happened following the 1,000-ha land dispute between villagers of three villages against the company that based in Rambah Hilir sub-district.

EoF learned that PT Sumatera Silva Lestari is an associated company to a giant pulp company, Asian Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL).

The escalation of conflict happened following the capture of two residents of Bangun Purba village by the company. At least 150 villagers then flocked to the company office demanding the release of the two men.

Abrar said that the villagers ran amok abruptly and this action was reciprocated by the company side. “Perhaps since the residents started destruction, then there was retaliation by the company. That’s what brought about the death of our residents,” Abrar said as quoted as saying by Riau Terkini.