On December 18th, the Indonesian police, who represent the interests of P.T. Arara Abadi, a pulp and paper company in Indonesia, attacked the people of Suluk Bongkal village in Sumatra who have been fighting to protect their land from the encroachment of P.T. Arara Abadi. Equipped with batons, water cannons, and fire arms, also with the support of hundreds of paid thugs, about 500 police officers attacked the picket line made up of women and children who were blocking the road to the village. Then they started shooting at the people with rubber bullets and tear gas, brutally beating the people, and burning down their houses with napalm bombs dropped from two helicopters. This repression not only injured many people but also cost the life of a 2-year-old child named Fitri who fell into a well because she was running scared from the attack.
From the latest report about 200 people, including the activists from the Riau Peasants' Union, have been arrested and more than 400 people are hiding in the jungle fearing further repression. The police have brought in reinforcements, with thousands of police and hired thugs patrolling the village and hunting down the residents and activists of the Riau Peasants' Union.
Hundreds of residents of Suluk Bongkal village have been terrorized, around 700 of their houses have been burned to the ground, their agricultural land and equipment has been destroyed, and one 2-year-old child has lost her life. All this to defend the interests of P.T. Arara Abadi who wants to take over a 5000 acre piece of land which belongs to the people of Suluk Bongkal.
P.T. Arara Abadi is the Sumatra subsidiary forestry division of Sinar Mas Group, one of the largest conglomerates in Indonesia owned by the local capitalist Eka Tjipta Widjaja. This company is part of Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), a multinational corporation which is one of the largest pulp and paper companies in the world with clients in more than 60 countries. Here we see clearly the thousand threads that bind the Indonesian national bourgeoisie with foreign capital, and how the Indonesian state apparatus is nothing more than a tool of repression of foreign and national capital.
With the global economic crisis, just as in many other companies, the stock value of APP has dropped more than 75% in the last 6 months. This is pushing many capitalist companies to intensify exploitation even more by pushing down the wages of the workers, sacking the workers, and in this case taking over the people's land in order to increase profit. This is not the first time APP and its subsidiaries have been involved in repression against the people in its pursuit of profit, and not only in Indonesia but also in China and Cambodia.
Therefore, the International Marxist Tendency would like to make these statements:
- We are in solidarity with the people of Suluk Bongkal and the comrades of the Riau Peasants' Union in the their struggle to defend their land rights.
- We condemn the repression perpetrated against the people of Suluk Bongkal by the police forces who are representing the interests of P.T. Arara Abadi.
- We demand that everyone involved in this repression be brought to justice, including the director of P.T. Arara Abadi.
- We demand the immediate and unconditional release of the 200 residents and activists of the Riau Peasants' Union who have been arrested.
- We demand the return of the land belonging to the people of Suluk Bongkal, with full compensation for the destruction carried out by the police and the hired thugs.
- We appeal to the workers of the Sinar Mas Group, APP, and their subsidiaries to organize a strike in solidarity
The global crisis of capitalism will sharpen and worsen the attacks against workers and peasants. The only way to fight this is to take an offensive stand. The workers together with the peasants and the oppressed layers need to unite and move toward socialism.
of the economy under workers' control!
Nationalization of land under peasants' control!
Workers and peasants unite!