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2011 • FRIENDS IN BARAK INDUK UNDER ATTACK

June 27, 2011 — Eight residents of Sei Minyak Camp in the District of Langkat, North Sumatra, Indonesia were shot and four others beaten with rifle butts, slapped with sandals and terrorized by forest rangers and police this morning. Sei Minyak is a small, outlying area of the refugee camps around Barak Induk where Friends Peace Teams supports the preschool, Tunas Baru.

Current Friends Peace Team in Indonesia—Nadine Hoover, her parents Dean and Sharon Hoover, Autumn Star of western New York and Terese Longva of Norway—planned to go to Barak Induk today, but rescheduled for Thursday at the request of the National Director of Early Childhood Education, to discuss the amazing new six-day workshop integrating Alternatives to Violence Project material with trauma healing and developmental play.

Mislan, a security officer of the camp, a lead facilitator of AVP and facilitator of this new workshop, called Nadine Hoover immediately to report the violence. He said police with riot shields entered homes dragging clothes and possessions into the yards, setting their possessions on fire and tearing siding off small wooden shacks of the poorest residents. Hundreds of people came running to form a human barricade; some threw stones to defend their homes.

Chief-of-Police in Besitang Ajun Sector Commissioner Sugiono reported to TEMPO, the national state newspaper, that 200 police attempted to forcibly evict these ex-Aceh conflict refugees and that three police were hit with stones.

Mislan called mid-day to say four residents had been seriously shot and he was moving them to the hospital in Brandan. He called about dinnertime to say at least two of them were being moved to Medan for more intensive treatment. Others had been grazed by bullets, but not seriously wounded. Mislan also reported that four different people had been found after the police released them. They had been beaten, restrained, slapped in the face with sandals, humiliated and intimidated.

Thousands of Indonesian farmers displaced by the war in Aceh (Petani Indonesia Pengungsi Aceh (PIPA)) in 1999 and 2000 carved out homes and a living in these mountains over the past decade, making their own mosque, schools, roads and electric lines that run from about 7-11pm. They had been in Aceh for generations and lost everything. Even though it’s been a decade since these residents were forcibly evicted from Aceh under conditions of war and extreme terror, the cumulative affects of trauma are severe.

Forest rangers claim that Barak Induk intrudes into the protected forest of Leuser Mountain National Forest, although they have not provided a map to support their claim. The territory was deforested decades before the pengungsi (refugees) arrived. Oil palm plantations surround deforested hillsides. Land conflicts are extensive, particularly in North Sumatra in the “outlying areas” where forest rangers and police violently support logging and oil palm plantation interests against local farmers.

Rangers, with police support, began spreading rumors last month that they would forcibly evict the farmers from their present location. Indonesian army came to Barak Induk on May 27, 2011, when Mislan and Amir were asked to speak. The meeting concluded that the army would not defend the Forestry rangers’ call for forced eviction. The Rangers persisted, however, and put out the word that any residents left on June 13, 2011 would be forced out that night. Acehnese humanitarian organizations and reporters came to their defense.

The Governor of Aceh appealed to the government of North Sumatra to offer protection to these people to not to drive them out of one more place. No actions occurred on June 13 and negotiations were scheduled between the residents and officials. The residents also sent their story and complaint to the National Commission of Human Rights, who opened an investigation of their situation.

But on June 27, 2011 forest rangers and police took actions of intimidation in disregard of official, peaceful processes. Residents of Barak Induk, District of Langkat, Province of North Sumatra and their surrounding network of camps, including Sei Minyak, wrote a brief history of their situation in 2009, which can be read in “Voice of Barak Induk.”