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The death toll from Tuesday’s fatal clash between members of two rival groups of shrimp farmers at the PT Central Pertiwi Bahari (CPB) shrimp farm in Dente Teladas district, Tulang Bawang regency, Lampung, has risen to four.
Police found two bodies on Wednesday afternoon and evening, while another victim died at the Abdoel Moeloek General Hospital in Bandarlampung on Wednesday evening.
Earlier on Wednesday, police found the body of employee Suwandi, 40, at the firm’s cold storage division.
Police subsequently found the bodies of another cold storage employee, Edi Ardiansyah, 25, and Sumanto, 36, a shrimp farmer in favor of the company, in a canal. Meanwhile, another pro-company farmer, Joko, 30, died in hospital, having sustained severe head injuries.
Data released by the Lampung Police on Thursday showed that apart from the four dead victims, 26 others were injured in the clash and dozens of homes were damaged. Meanwhile, data from farming group, the Silaturahmi Forum (Forsil), stated that scores of its members had also suffered serious injuries.
Lampung Police’s chief spokeswoman, Adj. Sr. Comr. Sulistyaningsih, said the police had yet to name any suspects despite questioning several witnesses.
She said police were being cautious in handling the case, which involved two rival groups of farmers operating in an area owned by PT CPB, a subsidiary of PT Central Proteinaprima (CP Prima).
The clash is believed to have been the result of a prolonged conflict between a group of farmers and the company.
Of the more than 3,000 shrimp farmers working on the shrimp farm, 1,800 Forsil farmers refused to work under a new scheme, while 1,640 members of the Pro-Partnership Farming Group (P2K) had accepted the new scheme, said PT CP Prima spokesman George Basuki.
Forsil’s lawyer, Indra Firsada, said a dormant conflict had existed for the past two years, adding that things intensified when PT CPB dismissed nine farmers from the partnership in August 2012 and stopped providing monthly rations to them in September 2012.
According to Indra, the conflict began when PT CPB did not allow the farmers to amend the partnership agreement with a new system.
”PT CPB planned to run the business within new parameters, but the farmers had to agree to all the clauses proposed by the company. One of the clauses rejected by Forsil members was a cut in profit-sharing if a harvest did not meet the target,” said Indra.
Indra said that since their rejection of the clause, PT CPB had refused to meet the Forsil farmers, instead forming the rival P2K.
George denied that PT CPB refused to hold discussions with Forsil, saying that PT CPB had formed a new scheme that would benefit both the firm and the farmers.
”However, not all farmers agreed with the scheme. They rejected the scheme, primarily over living expenses and production costs. Those who were unwilling to sign the agreement were automatically dismissed from the partnership,” he said.
Forsil secretary Subianto refuted George’s remarks, claiming that Forsil farmers had never been told the contents of the new partnership scheme.
He said that according to the partnership, PT CPB acted as guarantor for farmers who arranged bank loans of between Rp 160 million (US$16,494) and Rp 195 million.
Each farmer managed an area of some 5,000 square meters, and proceeds from the shrimp harvests had to be sold to the company, which provided Rp 1.5 million per month to each family for living expenses.