24 September 2010

Rallies across the country mark National Farmers' Day

Jakarta Post - September 25, 2010

Andi Hajramurni, Makassar -- Rallies marked National Farmers' Day and the
50th anniversary of the basic agrarian laws on Friday in South Sulawesi.

In Makassar, students, farmers, activists and workers staged rallies at the
governor's office and the South Sulawesi legislative building.

The rally at the governor's office was marred by pushing and shoving
between public order officers and demonstrators who tried to force their
way into the office to meet Governor Syahrul Yasin Limpo. Both office
entrances were tightly guarded, forcing protesters to voice their
aspirations in front of the office, causing heavy traffic congestion.

The demonstrators expressed concern over the welfare of farmers and
farmhands still living below the poverty line despite their roles in
providing food for the people.

"Today, we commemorate Farmers' Day and the 50th anniversary of basic
agrarian laws, but the fate of farmers and farmhands in Indonesia remains
deplorable," protester Mukhtar said while addressing the crowd.

The protesters also demanded the government discontinue seizures of
customary land, especially by the military and police, which eventually led
to disputes and forced removals imposed upon traditional communities.

"Stop seizing customary land and stop involving the military and police in
land or agrarian disputes because it victimizes civilians," protester Ancu

The demonstrators urged the government to form an agrarian agency to
implement land reform in Indonesia. They also expressed their opposition to
the draft law on land acquisition for development.

They urged the governor to issue policies that would favor farmers,
especially women working in the agricultural sector in South Sulawesi.

In Bandarlampung, rallies were staged by the Indonesian Farmers' Union
(SPI) and the Street Parliament Alliance. They urged the government to
review basic agrarian laws that disadvantage common farmers.

Demonstrators addressed the crowd at three points -- the Adipura Monument,
the Lampung legislative building and the Lampung National Land Agency. No
significant or fundamental land reform changes have taken place in
Indonesia, rally coordinator Muchlasin said.

In Blitar, East Java, around 200 people calling themselves Pemanas, or
National Farmers and Students, rallied at the Blitar regency administrative
office on Friday demanding resolution of land issues in the area.

"Many land disputes have not been resolved and have deprived farmers of
farmland," rally coordinator Jaka Wandira said, as quoted by Antara.

Some 35 land disputes remained unsettled in the regency, he said, adding
that the disputed areas involved around 2,500 hectares of land located on
the slope of Mount Kelud and the southern coast of Java, involving villages
such as Nyamil and Serang in Panggungrejo district, and Ngeni and Ngadipuro
villages in Wonotirto district.

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