Indramayu Peasants Union: Strengthening Organization, Developing Independent Village

Benni Wijaya

Indramayu ( Agrarian Reform Movement, for the villager and peasants in its essence are not simply limited to the struggle to defend their land. But even broader than that, it is a struggle on how to build and determine the direction of village development more sovereignly and independently, be it socially, economically, culturally and politically.

In order to achieve that, it requires a strong solidarity through organizations which will be built on awareness and initiative from the villagers and peasants themselves.

This is one of the significant points in “Great Meeting of Agrarian Reform Advanced Village” that were organized by Consortium for Agrarian Reform (Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria/KPA) along with Indramayu Peasants Union (Serikat Tani Indramayu/STI) in Plasa Koneng Hamlet, Mekarjaya Village, Gantar District, Indramayu on Wednesday, April 24th 2019, one of the STI local bases.

I invite all STI peasants of Plasa Koneng base to keep maintaining our solidarity in the struggle to drive away the enemies of peasants”, that is the call of Jahid, Secretary General of STI in the midst of that Great Meeting.

He also thanked KPA who has been the comrade of STI all this time.

In his speech, Jahid also elaborated the history of STI struggle. The struggle of STI began due to the accumulation of peasant’s disappointment toward Indonesia State Forest Enterprise (Perum Perhutani) who acted arbitralily by extorting and racketeering the cultivators”, he elaborated.

Currently the customs of illegal levies and profit sharing has been eliminated due to the tenacious resistance of STI Peasants”, he continues.

He also said that currently the young peasants could grow paddy and secondary crops in each their own cultivated lands without the usual harassments from Perhutani’s foremen.

In line with that, Rudi Casrudi from KPA Organizational Strengthening Department conveyed that peasants must began to strengthen their organizations, increasing agricultural productions, paying attention on the ecological elements, using precise technology in order to support farm production while at the same time re-identifying the agrarian wealth located around their village as prerequisite in developing the village that is more democratic fair and able to provide prosperity to the people.

The opportunity during this Great Meeting that was attended by hundreds organization members were also used to convey the results & findings of village’s socio-economic mapping performed by KPA and STI some time ago.  

The results and findings were directly presented by Rudi Casrudi. Three significant findings were acquired, First, Mekarjaya Village is the biggest village in Gantar District of Indramayu Regency and also home to most STI bases, which are seven bases out of the 24 total bases owned by STI.

Second, in the beginning, Mekarjaya Village is a location for local transmigrants also beneficiaries of the landreform program enacted by President Soekarno. Then, during its development those lands were arbitrarily claimed by the New Order Government and given to Perum Perhutani.

“The government must return and give the basic rights to the cultivators in STI bases of Plasa Koneng”, affirmed Rudi.

Third, history of the resistance began when the Perhutani foremen demanded very high levies or taxes (pungutan bawon) to the cultivators. Added with the profit sharing deal that definitely wasn’t beneficial to the cultivators, where they can only obtain 25% of their harvests, and the rest goes to Perhutani. Also the planting of cajuput and jabon (Neolamarckia cadamba) reduced the cultivated lands and farms belonging to the peasants.  

This situation is the reason for the STI peasants to keep defending their lands from the harassments of Perhutani foremen.

Other than that, Rudi assessed STI also needs to perform participatory mapping, reordering of cultivated lands and public facility repairing (read: farm roads) in order to be utilized  by tractors and other four-wheeled vehicles, also encouraging the collective lanfds for the needs of peasants organization in the future. (BW)


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