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Activists protest alleged violence against W. Java farmers

Jakarta Post - November 20, 2016

Jakarta A hundred activists from various organizations have sent a letter to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to protest alleged violence by security personnel in a West Java village where an airport is planned.

The incident reportedly took place on Thursday in the village of Sukamulya, Kertajati district, Majalengka regency.

An altercation erupted when some 2,000 personnel from the Indonesian Military, the National Police and the Public Order Agency were deployed to the village to secure land measuring activities by the National Land Agency (BPN). The government plans to build the West Java International Airport (BIJB), also known as Kertajati International Airport in the area.

According to the Land Reform Consortium (KPA), villagers protested the attempt and police arrested six people. Dozens were reportedly wounded after being beaten, with one sustaining an open head injury.

The activists wanted the government to stop what they called police "repression" and to release the detained farmers. "We also want the government to reassess the planning for the extension of the runway, because the government could avoid the forced eviction of Sukamulya villagers if it planned the extension on the other side of the airport," the letter said.

Previously, West Java Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Yusri Yunus said some villagers had protested the measuring activities. "Residents threw stones and in return had tear gas thrown at them," he said on Thursday, as quoted by tempo.co. Yusri said some villagers who refused to sell their land had provoked others to protest.

The government has announced the plan to procure land in Sukamulya in August, but each attempt to measure the land was met with protests. Majalengka Regent Sutrisno said the airport would become an investment magnet for neighboring Cirebon.

The KPA said the airport project was defined in Presidential Regulation No. 3/2016 as a public transportation project, but did, in fact, amount to an urban development project called Aerocity Kertajati. The KPA said the total land for the urban development was 5,000 hectares, 1,800 ha of which would be for the airport and 3,200 ha of which would be for new city development.

"While the project is ongoing, paddy fields and housing have transformed into the project. Sukamulya village is the only village that stands its ground and refuses to move. There are 1,478 families who refuse to move, defending about 500 hectares of land," the KPA said.

The KPA said besides Sukamulya 10 other villages were affected by the project. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/11/20/activists-protest-alleged-violence-against-w-java-farmers.html.

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