On Friday, February 27, Indra Kailani (23) of Lubuk Mandarsah was killed by security guards hired by Asia Pulp & Paper sister company PT. Wirakarya Sakti (WKS) in Bukit Tigapuluh landscape, Jambi Province, Sumatra. On the day of the murder, “Tebo Farmers Group (Serikat Petani Tebo)” including the village was organizing a rice harvest festival. Indra came to a security post in the District 8 of WKS concession to pick up Nick Karim of Walhi Jambi to join the festival, then the security guards started to quarrel with Indra, then at least 7 security guards started to beat him up.
Walhi Jambi reported that Nick asked one security guard to help Indra from the brutal attack, but the guard rejected it. Nick then left the post to inform his colleagues and villagers of the incident. By the time Nick returned with roughly 30 villagers, Indra was missing and the security officer on duty denied knowing anything about the incident.
Police in Tebo district were alerted and conducted a search Friday evening. Indra’s body was discovered the next day in swamp forest area 7 km away from the guard post, and roughly 400 meters from the road. Indra’s feet were bound with rope and his mouth stuffed with a t-shirt. His body showed signs of severe beating. Witnesses said that his corpse was taken by a car while his head was covered by his own shirt.
Tebo police say they are now seeking seven suspects in the killing, which comes after years of conflict between the company and local villagers over land claims. The village has been in conflict with WKS for a long time over their land tenure for 3,000 ha. For the past year, WAHLI has been working to facilitate a conflict resolution process between WKS and villagers as part of WKS’s parent company APP’s two-year-old zero deforestation policy, which includes both social and environmental provisions. That process has included mapping and delineating local land claims and small agricultural plots within areas granted as concessions to the company.
Earlier year, a joint NGO evaluation of APP’s social conflict resolution efforts showed a serious lack of progress in resolving many conflicts APP suppliers have. “This incident appears to be only the tip of an iceberg. Indra’s village has had long-lasting conflict with WKS. There are hundreds of such conflicts between local people and SMG/APP suppliers in Sumatra and Kalimantan,” said Muslim Rasyid, Coordinator of Jikalahari and EoF. “We call on SMG/APP to put serious efforts into resolving these conflicts as soon as possible.”
“This appears to be a pre-meditated brutal murder,” said Riko Kurniawan, Executive Director of Walhi Riau, a member of the EoF coalition. “We hope that justice is done this time, unlike 2010 and 2012 cases in which two farmers were killed under similar circumstances arising from social conflicts with APP suppliers in Jambi and Riau.”
“We have known Indra through our forest monitoring training as a part of European Union FLEGT funded project, co-organized by WWF and Warsi. We will miss him. Our hearts are with his family,” said Aditya Bayunanda, Forest Commodity Leader WWF-Indonesia. “We urge Jambi Police to conduct swift and conclusive investigation and SMG/APP to fully cooperate and be transparent in the investigation. WWF decided to suspend further discussion with APP on conservation issues until we see a significant closure of this conflict.”
Greenpeace, which has been working with APP to implement the policy, immediately condemned the killing and called for “full and unconditional cooperation” from APP in the investigation. “APP must take immediate action to ensure that this is fully and fairly investigated by the authorities with full and unconditional cooperation from the company. APP must also launch a full investigation of security procedures and its contractors to ensure such incidents never happen again. We expect the company to be transparent in addressing this issue,” said Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace’s Indonesia forest campaign. “Following a fair and comprehensive investigation, those directly and indirectly responsible for Indra’s death, including members of the security firm and APP, must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law if found to have been connected to this tragic death.”Given the gravity of this incident, the conflict resolution process must be prioritized on this case and across all APP operations in order to ensure justice is delivered. In the interim, Greenpeace will step back from other engagement with APP to focus on addressing the serious issues highlighted by this case.”