Protest succeeds: Sumatran farmers free, palm oil giant in trouble

Erfolgreicher Protest: Sumatra-Bauern sind frei, Palmölkonzern in Bedrängnis

Protest against violence mounted by the Sinar Mas corporation
Rarely have politicians and corporations responded as fast: Three days after we called for protests against shots and arrests in Karang Mendapo on Indonesian Sumatra, district government, police and the management of the palm oil transnational Sinar Mas found themselves forced to take action.


On Saturday 16 January the paramilitary special unit shot without warning on farmers from Karang Mendapo, who were harvesting oil palm fruits on their land. Six men were wounded, some very seriously. String puller was yet again the Sinar Mas corporation which had already caused the communal forest to be chopped down by its subsidiary, PT KDA.

But the Karang Mendapo farmers successfully stood up to the corporation and began to reforest the oil palm plantations. With the support of Rainforest Rescue the mayor, Muhammad Rusdi, in August 2010 won all legal actions against Sinar Mas and was rehabilitated.

The renewed violence of a palm oil company and brigades obviously bought by it started a wave of protest in Indonesia, led by our partner, and human rights activist, Feri Irawan. Spontaneous demonstrations happened in the capital, Jakarta and on Sumatra and the press also reported on the heinous crime.

Since then Daud Dharsono, president of the palm oil corporation, Sinar Mas, has met with a delegation of farmers and human rights activists, Jakarta police are investigating Sinar Mas and the men who shot.

First negotiations have taken place in the district town Sarolangun on Sumatra between the farmers from Karang Mendapo, the district chief, the police and a representatives of the palm oil company, PT KDA. The negotiations are led by Mayor Muhammad Rusdi.

Feri Irawan and the farmers of Karang Mendapo say thanks to all supporters. Without them Rusdi would not be sitting round the table with political representatives, police and the palm oil industry as equals.

Two of the fired on farmers are still seriously wounded in hospital. They have an additional big problem: There is no statutory health insurance in Indonesia. If you would like to donate for the treatment of these men, please name as the purpose “Karang Mendapo”.