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Update: How you can help the people of Barak Induk

September 11, 2015

The National Commission on Human Rights just completed a formal visit of Barak Induk in Sei Lepan, Langkat, North Sumatra (the county, district and province names). It would be wonderful if friends would write to Pak Dianto Bachriadi: to ask what the results and outcomes of their visit were and if rights of the people of Barak Induk to live in peace and enjoy the fruits of their own labor that they have invested in the past 15 years will be protected. 





Photo of Barak Induk "protected forest" when settlers arrived 15 years ago.

The people of Barak Induk were driven out of Aceh in 2000. The area of Barak Induk was deforested in the late 1960 and early 1970s, after the US-orchestrated coup d’etat in Indonesia. When they arrived the area had just been cleared  of brush for the planting of oil palm, which is the green you can see in the distance. Leuser Mountain National Forest is the skyline you can see in the distant haze. During the Suharto era, they ‘moved’ the border of the UN-protected forest out for their illegal logging and oil palm businesses, from 792,675 hectares to 2,700,000 hectares. After Suharto stepped down, Indonesia ask the UN to recognize the whole 2.7 million hectares they were telling the Indonesian villagers as UN restricted, most of which looked like the photo below. The UN refused stating the already recognized forest territory was not managed. So Indonesia ask ASEAN to recognize this territory and they did, but only 1,094,692 of the 2,700,000 requested, the boundaries of which have not been surveyed, so it is unclear on the ground what land actually is part of that area or not. The 2.7 million hectares Indonesia calls the Leuser Mountain Ecosystem, which has much territory not recognized by the UN or ASEAN, but the forestry department refers to it as Leuser Mountain National Forest as if it were the UN protected forest. I have told them every time they heard “forest” used in reference to them, they should say, “Without any trees!” in order to ensure people get the right image in their minds of what they are discussing. Portions of the land that Barak Induk residence have worked are within the Ecosystem territory only recognized by the Indonesia government given to extremely corrupt management by the exact same people presented in “The Act of Killing”, who have acted with impunity since the coup d’tat in 1965.


Below I have pasted a link to UN human rights complaint that we filed on their behalf three years ago. Since August 2012, they have experience the first peace time in their lives. Their productivity rose dramatically and that productivity became visible. In this peace time, the people began pursuing their own prosperity and weakening the solidarity among them and creating internal conflicts. At the same time, they began taking large old, scrap forest trees left after clear-cutting in the region (they do not have the equipment to fell this size tree themselves), and using the heart wood to make hoe handles. Local officials used this as an excuse to suddenly begin stopping their trucks on the road and confiscating their goods, including two large trucks they had purchases with over 2.5 tons of latex going to the rubber factory. This news report is all in Indonesian (you may be able to utilize Google translate to get the gist) but you can see the confiscations on the road at: The officials call them illegal loggers who have to be stopped.


All the rubber factories in the district refused to purchase their rubber. Finally, to stay alive, they had to see trucks from Aceh to come to get their rubber and take it to rubber plants outside of North Sumatra.


GPS Map of Barak Induk in relation to the border of the Leuser Mountain National “Ecosystem” (not internationally recognized forest). The blue line is the Ecosystem line, which is their justification for continuing to harass them for 15 years now. Click on photo for a larger view.

They purposely refer to this area as Leuser Mountain National Forest (TNGL) but it technically is not, it is Leuser Mountain National “Ecosystem”. The Minister of Forestry signs ‘rights of exploitation’ of this area over to rich people who are able to pay for those rights. The “Ecosystem” is completely planted to oil palm in this territory and if they were able to successfully drive the people of Barak Induk out, the oil palm plantation would immediately burn out the houses and plant around the rubber trees and take the rubber tree production. It takes seven years for rubber to come into production and after 15 years of labor, it is a very productive area at this time.


Voice of BI Indonesia 2012 TO UN