A prolonged dispute between two rival shrimp farming groups led to a fatal clash on Tuesday evening. The incident in Dente Teladas district in Tulang Bawang regency, Lampung left one dead and 24 injured.
Lampung Police chief spokesman Adj. Sr. Comr. Sulistyaningsih said on Wednesday that, Suwandi, 40, an employee of PT Central Pertiwi Bahari (CPB) was found dead on Wednesday in a canal in Adi Warna village, which is inside in the shrimp farm complex owned by PT CPB.
Suwandi was an employee of the cold storage division of PT CPB, Southeast Asia’s largest shrimp farm.
Sulistyaningsih said the Lampung Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) had been deployed to Tulang Bawang to secure the shrimp farm along with 90 personnel from Tulang Bawang Police. She added that they were supported by soldiers from the Garuda Hitam Regional Military Command that oversees Lampung province.
“Security personnel have been on the scene since Tuesday evening. The situation on the site has returned to normal,” she said.
“Most of the injured are receiving treatment at the company’s clinic. Only a few of them were taken to the Abdoel Moeloek General Hospital in Bandarlampung.”
Ties between plasma farmers and the company were not smooth even before the shrimp farm was taken over by PT CPB. Plasma farmers felt they have been cheated because they suddenly owed the company tens of millions of rupiah after joining the company.
PT CPB spokesman Tarpin A. Nasri said the seriously wounded were members of Pro-Partnership Farming Group (P2K) and their families, PT CPB employees and Pasiran Jaya villagers.
“One of the seriously injured is Joko, a plasma farmer from Block 01-23-20, who sustained a fractured skull and was transferred to the Abdoel Moeloek General Hospital,” he said.
Tarpin added that the company had repeatedly made mediation efforts but had yet to reach an agreement with the plasma farmers to end the conflict.
A number of activists said the clash was partly due to the company’s reluctance to settle the debts of the plasma farmers.
“We believe the company played one farming group against another. There are two farming groups in the complex — the Silaturahmi Forum [Forsil] and P2K,” said Mukri Friatna of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).
“Both groups are in conflict following a partnership issue between Forsil and PT CPB.”
Bandarlampung Legal Aid Institute director, Fauzi Silalahi, urged the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to immediately unearth the facts.
Forsil spokesman Bibit said the clash was triggered by the company’s sluggish settling of the conflict, adding that the company had prevented Forsil’s farmers from gaining access to the shrimp farm.
“The clash started when dozens of Forsil members were prevented from returning to their homes after attending prayers on Tuesday at about 1 a.m.,” he said.
“Our group, including Forsil head Cokro Edy Prayitno, was stopped at the entrance to the shrimp farm by pro-company farmers. We [had to stay] at the homes of residents in the neighboring village.”
Bibit added that the homes where Forsil members had stayed for the night, were surrounded by around 50 hoodlums, allegedly coordinated and paid for by the company.
Tulang Bawang Deputy Regent Heri Wardoyo said the regency administration and Komnas HAM had attempted to mediate between the company and plasma farmers.
“We sent a team to resolve the conflict at PT CPB. As farmers encountered difficulties in buying rice, we provided them with rice in case they faced a food shortage after ceasing shrimp farming,” said Heri.