Governments have a right and responsibility to act to counter threats to public order, and companies have the right to protect property and personnel. Human Rights Watch recognizes the illegality of community actions to impound vehicles and blockade roads, as well as the increasingly volatile environment in which these incidents occurred. At the same time, state law enforcement and company security personnel have the responsibility to respect and protect human rights while pursuing the legitimate objective of maintaining security. In order to stem the tide of rural violence, this obligation is especially important in the increasingly emotional and conflict-ridden circumstances prevailing in the Riau countryside.
The violence and social conflict between Arara Abadi and local communities in Riau is not exceptional. Indeed, they are representative of a widespread problem that the state and corporations operating in Indonesia have done little to address. The costs of impunity and longstanding economic conflicts of interest have been the violation of rights of members of local communities, destruction of forests, and the economic and political marginalization of local people-conditions that have produced an epidemic of social conflict in rural Indonesia. State law enforcement that is unable or unwilling to address social conflict has led to the emergence of a variety of civilian "security" groups. Without effective rule of law, these groups have been uncontrolled and unaccountable for rights violations-in the end producing more violence and forest crimes, rather than quelling them. Further, the lawlessness prevailing in the Riau countryside has created an environment in which unscrupulous individuals engage in incitement, extortion, and protection rackets with impunity.
This chapter outlines the complicity of the Indonesian state in its failure to act to address rights abuses against member of forest dependent communities within Arara Abadi's concession, and puts this complicity into a broader national context of impunity that has implications for the rights and security of all in Indonesia.
The Indonesian Government's Failure to Prosecute
The government's response to Arara Abadi's systematic attacks on communities has been woefully inadequate. Only after public outcry following the Angkasa/Belam Merah and Betung attacks did the government take any action, holding joint meetings with company staff and community members. The police also arrested two people on minor charges, but this was only two of the hundreds involved in attacks in which there was a police presence. As noted above, the two militiamen were tried for assault, sentenced to one month, and had their sentences suspended for time served.223 One Arara Abadi field manager, Jensen Ko, whom eyewitnesses identified as directing attacks at both Betung and Angkasa, reportedly fled the country.224
The problems have continued even when cases were well publicized. After village leaders in Mandiangin reported the attack by Pam Swakarsa to the local police and the sub-district head without result, they raised the incident with the local media and sympathetic political leaders. Despite coverage in the press225 and a formal complaint filed by a local lawyer, no serious effort was made by the authorities to investigate the case. Police officials interviewed by Human Rights Watch refused to answer questions regarding the incident. One high-ranking official, who declined to be named, voiced views that indicate the attitude taken by Riau law enforcement officers not only toward investigating these crimes, but towards protecting community welfare more generally, or investigating community members' claims:
Police said the matter was considered closed. When questioned about whether the communities were satisfied with the resolution of the problem, a police official told Human Rights Watch they are tired of trying to intervene to settle the problem and made it plain that they had no intention of pursuing the matter further.
The paternalistic attitude toward villagers and the prioritizing of powerful economic interests over human rights remains prevalent today. One police official, for example, told Human Rights Watch that financial considerations took precedence over resolving the conflict:
Instead of using the legal system or arbitration to address the land dispute, local authorities and APP/Sinar Mas Group have orchestrated "traditional peace ceremonies" with local communities. However, it is difficult to see how such efforts will be able to provide a lasting resolution to the dispute because the underlying land claims remain unresolved and, in the Angkasa/Belam Merah case, the charges against the loggers have not been dropped. The conduct of such ceremonies alone only leaves conflicts to fester for reemergence at a later date.228
The Roots of Impunity: Corruption
The first casualty of corruption is freedom of information and the ability to investigate and expose wrongdoing. When government services are for sale, access to information threatens corrupt actors and is therefore kept tightly constrained. State data and statistics in the lucrative resource sectors, for example, on the number of logging permits issued, the names of concessionaires, and the location of licensed plots is extraordinarily difficult to obtain, and frequently is used as a commodity in itself-available for a price. For example, Human Rights Watch was initially denied access to data regarding logging permits by the Pekanbaru provincial forestry office's production department, on the grounds that human rights workers had no need for such information and investigations would only inflame local tensions. When investigators insisted that this was public information to which access could not lawfully be denied, department staff eventually begrudgingly produced a list of numbers. These data (on file at Human Rights Watch), however, appear to be falsified, as they replicated the same permit numbers, exact area and yield in multiple districts. Other attempts by Human Rights Watch to obtain provincial forest data were met with requests for "cigarette money." 229
Corruption has also led to government failure to protect those who investigate and publicize human rights abuses and environmental crimes. Lack of free information flow, together with impunity, has made journalists, activists, and community members attempting to expose or protest illicit practices the vulnerable targets of threats and violence from paid thugs or state security acting as protectors. For example, during a field investigation of illegal logging trade in Central Kalimantan's Tanjung Putting National Park, activist Ruwindrijarto from the Indonesian environmental group Telapak and Faith Doherty from the U.K.- based Environmental Investigation Agency were kidnapped and beaten by employees and relatives of local parliamentarian and timber baron Abdul Rasyid. Ruwindrijarto had a gun held to his head and was threatened with death if they continued their investigations. After being held for several days, the two were released following pressure from the British Embassy, and they reported their plight to the police. However, to date, even following international attention to the incident, no legal action has been taken and Rasyid continues his timber trade.230
In November 2001, Abi Kusno Nachran-a local journalist who had been publishing investigations of suspected timber smuggling by Rasyid and who had provided data to the Minister of Forestry leading to the seizure of three Chinese-owned ships containing 25,000 m³ of illegal timber-was attacked by machete-wielding thugs. The attackers severed four of his fingers and half of his thumb on one hand and nearly cut off his arm. Nachran had received three death threats prior to this attack, and continued to receive them even while in the hospital recovering from his injuries. Four suspects were detained in the case, but three escaped.231 After being held for five months, the confiscated logs were released, after a letter was sent to the Foreign Affairs Department by the Head of Police Detectives Corps (Reserse Polri) and signed by his deputy, Brig.Gen. Trimada Dani. The letter stated that evidence was lacking on the three captains of the ships, and that there was no evidence that these ships had transported illegal logs. No charges have been filed in relation to the attacks on Nachran or on Doherty and Ruwindrijarto, or in relation to the illegal logging that they were investigating.232
In Riau, confidential non-governmental sources reported to Human Rights Watch four separate incidents in which four activists and a journalist who were investigating illegal logging were either threatened or beaten. These sources reported that in late 2001, environmental activists documenting illegal logging in the area of Tesso Nilo Protected Forest were pursued by knife wielding loggers and members of Pemuda Pancasila, a formal militia, organized by the former ruling party Golkar, that has been implicated in a wide variety of gang activity and violence.233 On a separate occasion on October 16, 2000, a local journalist told activists that, while covering a story on illegal logging in Bukit Tiga Puluh National Park, he was discovered photographing illegal logs. The journalist claimed he was beaten and interrogated by loggers and told if he "wanted to stay alive" he would stop investigating the case. Similarly, in August 2001, a local NGO investigator who was documenting illegal logging in Bukit Tiga Puluh National Park was attacked and beaten, allegedly by three park guards and the head of a local logging operation.234
Indeed, even former Director General of Forestry Suripto's efforts to get prosecutors to bring charges for corruption in the lucrative forestry sector (including against the Soeharto family), described above, resulted in death threats and the loss of his job, but only one conviction.238
Vigilantes and Militias
Likewise, lack of police capacity or will to adequately protect civilians has led to an explosion of private security forces and state-organized militias. These groups are uniformed, armed with knives and clubs, and are trained by military or police. Nationally, they number in the hundreds of thousands. The militias were justified by then Minister of Defense and Commander of Armed Forces General Wiranto based on Law 20/1982 Concerning Basic Principles of National Defense and Security, which recognizes every citizen's right to defend the state.240 Among the many formal militias established by the state are:
· Hansip (Pertahanan Sipil, Civilian Defense), under the Department of Home Affairs for "total security";241
In addition, nearly all the major political parties have their own "security brigades" to protect political headquarters and interests247 (but which also have expanded into "community protection"),248 along with a number of student "security organizations" formed ostensibly to "secure the political process," but who in practice are used to assault rival political groups and intimidate legislators. Lack of accountability has meant that these groups have been free to act with impunity.
Such lawlessness has left ample room for the formation and political manipulation of "religious" and "nationalist" militia with the explicit intent of engaging in violent conflict under the guise of "defense," such as (now disbanded) Laskar Jihad, the Islamic militia involved in protracted religious conflict in Maluku, Poso (Central Sulawesi), and recently in Papua;249 the Christian militias Laskar Kristus and Black Bats250 in Maluku and Poso; Satgas Merah Putih in Papua claiming to defend Indonesian nationalism by waging violence against Papuan separatists;251 the Jakartan gang Betawi Brotherhood Forum that was implicated in attacks on activists protesting the embezzlement of relief funds for flood victims and human rights organizations;252 and a variety of Islamic vigilante groups who have raided nightclubs in Java to "enforce Islamic laws" but who have also been implicated in protection rackets in these same businesses.253
These circumstances have provided fertile ground for cycles of rural violence and, in some cases, ethnic conflict, as in Kalimantan, Papua, Maluku, and Poso. One such case was described in Chapter V above, in which ethnically Batak communities resisting land seizures by APP's supplier plantation Rimba Rokan Lestari were attacked by "Laskar Melayu," an ethnic Malay gang. One Batak villager was also abducted and mutilated (a second escaped) by unknown thugs and told that his entire village would be killed if they did not cease resistance to the plantation.254
One representative of a private security firm offered this telling view of why there was an explosion of thugs-for-hire:
Incitement and Extortion
When asked if he knew this from personal experience, the security firm official explained:
This incitement increasingly involves gang networks that take advantage of the poor law enforcement.1 The increasing role of extortionist mediators is obviously counterproductive to the cause of settling disputes and is increasingly dangerous to both the company and the local communities involved in the dispute. These false mediators are also dangerous to genuine NGO activists and community organizers , who are often portrayed by government and corporations as just such "provocateurs."
The Indonesian state has failed to act to address rights concerns around Arara Abadi's plantations and has further created an atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity that threatens stability and the rights of all residents of Indonesia, managers of corporations as well as communities. But when justice is for sale, it is the impoverished rural communities who are the most vulnerable, with little protection from violence and no legal remedy when the land and resources on which they depend for their livelihood are expropriated by the powerful.
223 Human Rights Watch interviews with villagers in Angkasa and Betung, January 22, 2002; with Yosuf Daeng (legal counsel for Arara Abadi), February 18, 2002; with provincial police and former district police chief, Pekanbaru, Riau, February 19, 2002.
228 Such approaches to violence are a routine government response and have proven to be poor substitutes for legal accountability for crimes and active dispute resolution. Repeated communal clashes in Kalimantan were followed by such "traditional peace ceremonies" as a matter of practice. But locals say they that rather than resolving the conflict, these government performances were even more infuriating to those involved in the conflict as they were seen as a way of avoiding real action. Human Rights Watch, "Communal violence in West Kalimantan," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 9 no. 10 (C), December 1, 1997. Communal clashes in West Kalimantan have been a recurring problem, claiming hundreds of lives and displacing thousands.
231 Marianne Kearney, "Timber Trader's Thugs Did This To Him," Straits Times, March 10, 2001, http://www.ecologyasia.com/NewsArchives/ Mar_2002/straitstimes.asia1.com.sg_asia_story_0,1870,107415,00.html (retrieved November 26, 2002).
233 For more on Pemuda Pancasila, see Loren Ryter, "Pemuda Pancasila: The Last Loyalist Free Men of Soeharto's New Order?" in Benedict R. O'G. Anderson, ed., Violence and the State in Soeharto's Indonesia (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001).
237 "U.N. Condemns Indonesia's Justice," Straits Times, July 23, 2002. Justice Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra lashed out against what he portrayed as inappropriate U.N. political attack against the government and president, and said that Indonesia should not pay too much attention to foreign advice on how to reform their government. "Jakarta Minister slams U.N. judiciary investigator," Reuters, July 23, 2002.
238 Bob Hasan was sentenced to six years in prison for embezzlement of U.S.$243 million in state funds though a fraudulent aerial mapping survey awarded eleven years ago. "Hasan's sentence triples," Agence France Presse, March 16, 2001.
239 One newspaper reported that a local Jakarta hospital had recorded 103 people being burned to death in vigilante attacks in the first six months of 2000. Joko E.H. Anwar, "Reforms in Jakarta means license to kill," Jakarta Post, December 30, 2000. Another reported that nationwide reported deaths in vigilante attacks reached 216 in 2001, but that the actual number could be more than double that number. Emmy Fitri, "Street vigilantism continues," Jakarta Post, January 12, 2002. Other officially sanctioned vigilante groups in Central Java have lynched and beheaded strangers suspected of occult or criminal activity. "Lynch mobs rage in East Java after murder suspect's arrest," Agence France Presse, October 26, 199; and "Mob lynches four `ninja' killers," Straits Times, October 28, 1998.
240 Federation of American Scientists Intelligence Report, "Indonesia's Militias," http://www.fas.org/irp/world/indonesia/militia.htm, (retrieved October 3, 2002).
241 The military provides Hansip's training and supplies units with their weaponry. Hansip platoons are established in each village, the members recruited from the village community. The system of Indonesia's National Defense and Security is based on "total people's defense and security" which means that the Armed Forces and the entire people are equally responsible for maintaining national security and defense. The Civil Defense Organization is responsible for matters concerning security and order and has to assist the people in village emergencies. Hansip is under the supervision of the district head and the governor of the province.
242 Human Rights Watch, "Ban Arms Sales to Indonesia Unless Timor Militias Stopped," press release, August 17, 2000; "East Timor: Suspend Aid Until Militias Brought Under Control," press release, September 1, 1999; "East Timor: Stop Militia Violence," press release, July 6, 1999. See also Brendan Nicholson, "Documents Reveal Indon Terror Link," The Age, May 8, 1999.
243 In late 1998 minister of defense and security General Wiranto proposed the formation of a civilian militia (Ratih) to help maintain order in the country. However, it did not materialize because it did not receive much support from some segments of the national leadership. Instead, Kamra, civilian paramilitary units, were recruited and trained by the Indonesian army to serve in police auxiliary units. Starting in February 1999 the Indonesian Army began training 40,000 unemployed youths as members of a Kamra to assist police. Each member of Kamra trained for at least trained for two weeks at an educational institution of the Indonesian Army in camps at military area base regiments, with a subsequent three to four months of training "on the job." The civilians are armed with shields, batons, and handcuffs and are authorized to make arrests. The regulation used as the legal basis of the force is Presidential Decree No. 5/1978. After being laid off, the Kamra members later threatened to run amok. "Over 1000 Kamra Members Threaten To Run Amok," Jakarta Post, December 19, 2000; "ABRI to start training 40,000 civilian militia," Jakarta Post, December 24, 1998.
244 The Pam Swakarsa voluntary militia does not have a clear command under civilian or military hierarchy, has no clear legal basis and received little training. In November 1998 ABRI recruited some 125,000 civilians to bolster the defense of the special legislative session preparing for the 1999 elections. Many of the volunteers were recruited from gangs notorious for violence, and were eventually withdrawn after numerous brawls with demonstrators. Panca Nugraha, "Pam Swakarsa-Solution or New Problem?" Jakarta Post, January 19, 2002.
246 "100 Shanties Demolished in Teluk Gong," Jakarta Post, June 24, 2002. Rendi A. Witular, "Jakarta Begins Door-to-Door ID Card Raids," Jakarta Post, January 23, 2002; "Public furious at Tramtib's violence, demand changes," Jakarta Post, January 26, 2002. During a campaign to reduce in-migration to Jakarta civilian militias were involved in attacks against those believed to be non-Jakarta residents during house to house checks of Jakarta ID cards.
247 Ainur R. Sophiaan, "Banser told to dump legacy of militarism, mob politics," Jakarta Post, June 8, 2000; "More Harm than Good," Jakarta Post, May 15, 2000; Derwin Pereira, "Muscle Politics in Indonesia," The Straits Times, March 7, 1999.
248 Jeremy Wagstaff, "Indonesia's PDI Takes on Role of Police," Asian Wall Street Journal, May 26, 1999; Vaudine England, "Militias adjust to free market," South China Morning Post, November 11, 2001.
1 Human Rights Watch interviews with staff of various private security firms working in Riau and elsewhere in Indonesia, January 28, 2002, February 3, 2002, February 7, 2002, February 11, 2002, February 15, 2002.