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Jakarta Post

Land disputes give rise to ‘armed criminal group’ in Jambi's acacia forests

  • Jon Afrizal

    The Jakarta Post

PREMIUM
Batanghari, Jambi   /   Tue, January 14, 2020   /  04:51 pm
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The land once controlled by Serikat Mandiri Batanghari (SMB) in Belanti Jaya village, Mersam district, Batanghari regency, was cleared in December 2019.(JP/Jon Afrizal)

  A long history of land conflicts between residents and a pulp company in Batanghari regency, Jambi, has given birth to a band of farmers that has been called an “armed criminal group” by the police. Authorities have painted a picture of armed bandits associated with farmers union Serikat Mandiri Batanghari (SMB) led by a man named Muslim and his wife, Deli Fitri. In July of last year, the police claimed they found a bunker containing dozens of firearms and drugs in the union’s possession during the arrest of 59 members. The union members were arrested for allegedly assaulting fire fighters extinguishing a land fire. After the arrest, the authority burned the union’s farmland and public facilities. Thousands fled the area fearing for their safety. The police called them an “armed criminal group”. The company considered them a threat t...