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Indonesia: Amnesty criticises police on violence against farmers

last update: May 27, 13:37

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Jakarta, May 27(AKI/Jakarta Post) - International human rights group Amnesty International released a report on Friday on the unnecessary and excessive use of force against farmers in Jambi province, located on the east coast of central Sumatra.

The report documented an incident in which police officers opened fire on a group of local farmers at a palm oil plantation on 15 January.

As a result, six farmers suffered critical injuries due to the rubber bullets, while seven other villagers were arrested for questioning and were subsequently freed.

The incident occurred amid a land dispute between the farmers and palm oil company PT Kresna Duta Agroindo that has been ongoing since 2006.

The farmers said the deal in which they loaned the land to the company in 2001 had expired, returning the land rights back to the farmers.

"At least 150 farmers were harvesting palm oil trees that morning near the villages of Karang Mendapo in Sarolangun district when they were confronted by at least 30 Brimob officers who attempted to evict them from the plantation," Amnesty wrote in a press release provided to The Jakarta Post.

The statement also said that "according to local sources, the Brimob officers had been instructed by the Jambi regional police to provide support to the Sarolangun District Police in maintaining security in the area of the company's operations."

"When the farmers refused to leave, the police fired warning shots into the air, causing the farmers to flee in panic," Amnesty wrote.

The shots reportedly injured the six farmers – hitting them in the face, thigh, stomach and back.

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