Jakarta – The Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam) has recorded that over the last five years conflicts involving mining have occurred on land covering some 925,748 hectares, involving at least 71 cases.
According to Jatam Coordinator Merah Johansyah, it is predicted that the number of mining conflicts will increase bearing in mind President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's desire to prioritise investment.
"When Pak [Mr] Jokowi said, I will spur investment, for us Jokowi's order was actually a siren call inviting HAM [human rights] violations", said Johansyah during at discussion in the Pasar Minggu area of South Jakarta on Monday January 6.
"Our projection is that from 2020 to 2024 there will be a large number of HAM violations. We need to stress that in mining cases, the extent of mining conflicts that we were able to record, over the last five years covered some 950,000 hectares or [almost] two times the size of Brunei Darussalam. That was the extent of the conflict areas", he explained.
Out of the 71 mining conflicts, most cases were related to coal mining, namely 23 conflicts, followed by gold mining with 23 cases, iron-sand mining with 11 cases and nickel mining with 5 cases.
Meanwhile the principle pattern of the conflicts included shootings by police followed by cases where conflicts were preceded by physical clashes or the blockading of mining roads by local people.
According to Johansyah, one of the consequences of these mining conflicts was the criminalisation of local people and activists. Jatam recorded that between 2014 and 2019 there were 33 cases of criminalisation.
"Meanwhile just in 2019 there were 10 cases of criminalisation and attacks resulting in damages or death. Jatam recorded that that there four cases of criminalisation, two cases of alleged attacks which resulted in deaths and four cases of intimidation by hired thugs allegedly on the orders of mining companies", read part of the Jatam report titled "2020 Initial Report and Projections", which was received by CNN Indonesia.
The group also found that there were 10 legal articles which most often used to indict local people or activists.
These articles included Article 162 of the Mineral and Coal Mining Law which contains sanctions for people who are deemed to disrupt mining activities. In addition to this, Article 263 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) on false testimony which was used to indict a local farmer, Joko Prianto, in Central Java.
Other examples were the use of article 107 of the KUHP related to crimes against state security which was used against local resident Budi Pego in Banyuwangi, East Java. Article 28 Paragraph 2 of the Electronic Information and Transaction Law (UU ITE) was also used to arrest filmmaker Dandhy Laksono.
And it was not just local people and activists that were targeted. According to Jatam, the threat of criminalisation also lies in wait for experts and academics. Such a precedent befell Basuki Wasis and Bambang Hero who appeared as expert witnesses in several mining cases. This is not to mention direct physical attacks.
"Just three or four days ago, student activists Muhamad Iksan who is still only 23 years old had his head cut off because he fought for his village in opposing an expansion by two mining companies", said Johansyah. (ika/wis)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Jatam: Lahan Konflik Tambang Indonesia Seluas Dua Kali Brunei".]