Press Conference, RA Sumut Secretariat (SEKBER Reforma Agraria Sumatera Utara): Ensuring Perpres No. 86/2018 concerning Agrarian Reform and Agrarian Conflict Resolution in North Sumatra

After 4 years of the Jokowi-JK Government, the Jokowi-JK Agrarian Reform Commitment finally emerged through Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 86 2018, concerning agrarian reform on 27th September 2018. The issuance of the Perpres concerns various elements of the civil society movement in North Sumatra, that joined the Joint Secretariat of the North Sumatra Agrarian Reform (SEKBER RA SUMUT), to oversee Presidential Regulation No. 86 2018 and the resolution of the agrarian conflict in North Sumatra. This was stated at a press conference on Thursday, November 8th 2018 at WALHI North Sumatra, Dr. Mansyur III St. Block C No.16 A Padang Selayang I, Medan at 14.00 WIB.

More than 30 farmer organizations, indigenous peoples, non-government organizations (NGOs), and labor organizations in North Sumatra initiated the establishment of SEKBER RA North Sumatra. These organizations are the Badan Perjuangan Rakyat Penunggu Indonesia (BPRPI), HaRI (Institute for Forest and People Studies), Bakumsu, WALHI Sumut, Kontras, Bitra LBH Medan, Elsaka Sumut, KSPPM, , AMAN Sumut, AMAN Tano Batak, SPI Sumut, Parpem GBKP, SLPP Sumut, Yayasan Srikandi Lestari, GEMMA, PDPK, Sikap, KRA, PBHI Sumut, PARAS, GSBI, Fitra, Sahdar, Petrasa, Kelompok Tani Siantar-Simalungun, SMI, Yapidi, Pusham Unimed.

Agrarian Reform is a priority program in the Nawacita of the Jokowi-JK Government. The program requires 9 million hectares of land as the object of agrarian reform. Nevertheless, in practice it has not yet described the agrarian reform that has resolved land issues so far. Agrarian reform actually aims to overhaul the inequality of the agrarian structure and redistribute land to the people who really need land, not just to share certificates as they have done so far.

In North Sumatra, based on HaRI (Institute for Forest and People Studies) records, there are 106 community groups that are still in conflict with plantations and industrial plantation companies, with an area of 346,648 hectares. Around the city of Medan, PTPN II and ex-HGU PTPN II HGU land has been the object of an agrarian conflict which has never been completed and has become the largest area of conflict by involving various actors between community groups, real estate entrepreneurs, and even land mafia. During 2013-2017 there were at least 53 cases of agrarian conflict in the ex-HGU PTPN II area. (KontraS Sumut 2017 data).

In the highlands of North Sumatra, seizures of customary lands still occur today. For example, as experienced by the indigenous Matio community in Toba Samosir, the Oppu Bolus and Oppu Ronggur Simanjuntak indigenous peoples, the Onan Harbangan indigenous community, Tornauli, in North Tapanuli, the Nagahulambu and Sihaporas indigenous peoples in Simalungun, etc. to date are victims of deprivation customary territory by private and state companies.

The issuance of Presidential Regulation 86 of 2018 concerning Agrarian Reform presents an opportunity as well as a challenge in overcoming the problem of agrarian conflict, especially in North Sumatra. Various critical notes, such as the lack of involvement of civil society as part of the planning process and implementation of vulnerable agrarian reforms are used by certain parties to access lands which are the object of agrarian reform. Moreover, in this presidential decree the legal entity as one of the subjects can obtain land redistribution. In urban areas such as Medan, this would certainly be an opportunity for capital owners to access land redistribution through legal entities to develop their businesses and accumulate profits by building business, shopping, real estate and so on.

Of course, the presence of this Presidential Regulation can be an opportunity for civil society. The opportunity is that civil society can propose TORA objects from abandoned lands, exhausted concessions (ex-HGU), 20% of concessions, forest areas that have been designated as non-forest areas or other used areas and abandoned land outside the area forest, reclaimed land, and so on. Especially, for civil society groups that have occupied and controlled ex-HGU lands, this regulation later became the basis for land tenure protection that had been occupied. Not only that, the Perpres can also be a legal basis for resolving agrarian conflicts.

However, this Perpres has a weak point, namely the institution. The institution stipulated in the Presidential Regulation is still coordinated by the coordinating minister for the economy. The problem is that the Coordinating Minister for the Economy does not have a firm bargaining position to resolve the inter-ministerial egosectoral.,Among others, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Ministry of Agrarian Spatial Planning, the Ministry of Coastal, Marine Affairs, Village Ministries and so on. The implementing team for agrarian reform which consists of a combination of several ministries / institutions will potentially complicate the process of coordination, communication, and lack of focus in each sector. In various cases of agrarian conflicts, each Ministry has its own rules regarding agrarian affairs. Resolving agrarian conflicts will also solve many other problems, but the process is still ongoing. Not to mention the issue of indigenous peoples’ land which has not yet been covered in PERPRES 86 of 2018. This has the potential to cause conflict between the indigenous territories of Rakyat Penunggu and areas claimed to be cultivated by communities (TORA objects), for example in the Ex-HGU PTPN II region in North Sumatra.

Perpres 86 2018 also does not involve civil society in the Tim Gugus Tugas Reforma Agraria (GTRA). In carrying out the implementation of agrarian reform, direct involvement of civil society is absolutely necessary. However, for almost two months since Presidential Regulation 86 was issued, this regulation had no intention of involving civil society as a member of the Tim Gugus Tugas Reforma Agraria (GTRA). This regulation does not actively involve the community in carrying out the mandate of Presidential Regulation 86 is excluding the objectives of Agrarian Reform.

The emergence of several new regulations related to agrarian conflicts. When reflected in previous experiences, agrarian policies that have been present are highly expected to solve the problem of agrarian conflict. Nevertheless, it complicates already existing conflicts and may become a new area of upcoming conflicts. Amin Multazam, KontraS Sumut said that at this time many policies that the Government regulated are related to agrarian actually worsened civil society movements and even caused friction among fellow civil society movements.

Harun Nuh, which is one of the National Councils of Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria, (KPA). He said that the issuance of this regulation was a moment of reuniting civil society movements that were concerned with agrarian reform. “Let’s discuss with indigenous people and farmer groups, how this regulation was becoming a momentum for us to maintain a genuine agrarian reform,” Alung concluded.

Abdul Halim Sembiring, as the coordinator of SEKBER RA SUMUT said that indigenous peoples, farmer groups and various elements of civil society organizations in North Sumatra stated, that the SEKBER RA was a form of commitment by the civil society movement to oversee Perpres 86 2018 and agrarian conflict resolution in North Sumatra. SEKBER RA SUMUT urges the Governor of North Sumatra as the provincial GTRA chairman to immediately involve civil society in the implementation of Perpres 86 2018 in North Sumatra. The seriousness and commitment of the Governor in resolving agrarian conflicts can be evaluated by how transparency, professionalism and community involvement in the TORA proposal and how communites will be involved in the GTRA Team in each city or district. (RP) Translate by (DM)