Apet Madili (46), a farmer and religious leader of Bohotokong Village, Sub District Bunta, District Banggai. Sulawesi Tengah, had to deal with the police after harvesting his own coconuts. The police arrested him because of the report from PT Saritma Abadi, one of palm oil plantaion companies in District Banggai. He was also accused of damaging the company’s fence. In fact the fence is the result of his own sweat.

“He was arrested on 30 November 2016, at 09.45 am in Polo Village, the neighbor village of Bohotokong Village. 3 policemen came with civilian clothes. They smashed the door of Tante Mili’s house, and then intruded without permission from the house owner. The police arrested Apet who was working as a daily worker for Pak Yamin. At that time, Apet was drying the coconuts with 4 of his partners,” said Kiki Amstrong, activist of Konfederasi Pergerakan Rakyat Indonesia (KPRI), Central Sulawesi regional.

Apet was arrested without any fight at all. At that time, Apet did not wear shirt and footwear. Fortunately he could take a shirt from the seat, not far from the Kelapa Dalam drying area. Apet was brought to Mapolres Banggai in a red Avanza car.

Pak Apet’s family received the arrest warrant 3 hours after the police took him. The warrant was given to the village secretary, and he gave it to Sofyan Lamaga, Chief of Fisherman, Labor, and Farmer Organization (Ortabun) in Bohotokong Village, two hours after Pak Apet was taken by the police, explained Kiki. Pak Sofyan received the arrest warrant from Suwandi, officer of Polsek Bunta. He said that Polres Banggai gave the letter to Polsek to be given to Apet Madili.

For the arrest, Bohotokong farmers protested at Polres Banggai Office. DPRD Banggai Office and Banggai District Head Office on 5 December 2016. They protested the police action that tended to take side on the company. Because Kelapa Dalam was not owned by PT Saritama Abadi, but Apet Madili.

During the protest, farmers demanded that Apet Madili was soon to be released because he was innocent. But the police refused with the reason that Apet Madili was proven to have damaged the fence and stolen the coconuts owned by PT Saritama Abadi.

“Pak Apet was accused of damaging the fence he built on his own. He was also accused of stealing his own coconuts, the coconuts which trees were inherited by Apet’s parents from generation to generation. But after that company was given HGU, the land with coconuts plantation owned by Pak Apet was claimed to be included in HGU,” Said Kiki.

The accusation made those farmers angry. They then visit DPRD Banggai aiming for HGU owned by PT Saritama Abadi to be annuled. The farmers claimed the HGU as problematic.

At that time, the farmers were welcomed by the member of Comission I DPRD District Banggai; Suharto Yinata, from Partai Hanura, Irwanto Kulap, from Partai Golkar, Bachtiar Pasman, from Partai PKB, and Zaenuri, from Partai PDIP. During the heated negotiation, the farmers forcefully accepted DPRD Banggai’s proposal to review HGU of PT Saritama Abadi. DPRD Banggai thought that HGU owned by PT Saritama Abadi was legal. Although the farmers refused, as the land initially owned by Bahotokong village people because that land had been distributed by National Land Agency (BPN) in 1980/

Kiki said that land owned by the people used to be the Netherland farming land (Ondememing) in Bohotokong Village, so the government should have known that the land has become the farmers’. Because the farmers have managed the land since 1982 after the western HGU right ended in 1980. Bohotokong farmers had also sent letters several times to Badan Pertanahan Nasional (BPN) to certify the land, but there were no answers. BPN even give HGU to PT Saritama Abadi.

The case that happened to Apet Madili has happened for a long time since the existence of company in Bohotokong Village. Criminalisation towards farmers keeps happening since the 1990s. Starting from threat, intimidation, to the arrest of farmers.

According to Kiki, the government should have learned from the previous cases. But the same thing happened again, the arrest of Apet Madili. She said that all these time, the government never gives protection for the farmers.

Kiki hoped that the government seriously solves agrarian case. If not then Bohotokong farmers will always be criminalized and arrested. she also expected that Bohotokong farmers are always united in fighting for their rights. Because only then they could be strong in facing the problem. (Kadi)

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