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Batak Toba people demand Idorayon closure

Detik - June 27, 2000

A Andri/Swastika & LM, Jakarta – Representatives of Batak Toba tribe in North Sumatra have urged the government to immediately close down PT Inti Indorayon Utama to avoid further conflict with local people.

On Wednesday clashes between the security forces and locals from the Porsea area where the plant is located who had organised amongst themselves to stop all materials reaching the plant claimed the life of a high school student.

The villagers mainly originate from the Sosor Ladang village, Porsea subdistrict, Toba Samosir municipality, North Sumatra. They have joined forces with Walhi, the Indonesian Forum for the Environment, in condemning the pollution of their traditional land and demanding the withdrawal of the plant's operating license.

The government recently reissued Indorayon's license after it was withdrawn during the Habibie adminstration because of environmental concerns and prolonged protests by local peoples.

Walhi also announced yesterday that they had written a letter to President Abdurrahman Wahid calling for a thorough investigation into the shooting death which occurred after a truck carrying chemicals from the plant was pelted with rocks. 13 people were arrested and the student shot when a large group went to the police station to demand their release.

General Secretary, Bona Pasogit, and Secretary, Martin Sirait, of the organisation representing the Batak Tobe tribe as well as Chairman of the United Porsea People's Voice, Musa Gurning, Bungaran Antonius Simanjutak from the Parbatu area and Tunggul Sirait, a member of Commission VIII from the House of Representatives, held a press conference at the Wisma HKBB Nommensen building on Kuru Patimpus St., Medan, North Sumatra today. "Porsea people can not stand the existence of PT Indorayon. If this firm is not closed down immediately the people threaten to hold a peoples' court," Musa Gorning said.