Land Rights Gone Wrong

Moch Tauchid (1952) mengatakan itu ‘Adalah soal hidup dan penghidupan manusia. Karena tanah adalah asal dan sumber makanan bagi manusia. Perebutan tanah berarti perebutan makanan. Perebutan tiang hidup manusia. Untuk ini, orang rela menumpahkan darah, mengorbank segala yang ada demi mempertahankan hidup selanjutnya.’

Moch Tauchid (1952) said ‘Land is a matter of human life and livelihood. The land is a source of food for humans. Seizing land means seizing food and human livelihood. That is why people are willing to sacrifice everything to defend their land.’

In October 2017, the Tamansari community in Bandung City located In West Jakarta were invited by the local Government to attend a Ramadan Feast. The townspeople were surprised by this invitation but attended anyway. The local government showed the people the map of the land and proposed the start of a new project called the Rumah Deret Tamansari Project (meaning apartment). This project would mean the replacement of Tamansari homes with new apartments and the displacement of the Tamansari community which held 198 families. The local government stated that the Tamansari people will be relocated to temporary housing for 6 months, while the apartments were being built. Without the consent of the people, the local government went ahead with the project and held that the Ramadan Feast was the consent given by the people.

The Tamansari people vocalized two objections to this new project. The first being that the Ramadan Feast did not give consent by the people and was not a mutual discussion. The second objection was that the compensation was not enough for their land which was 26 million Rupiah yearly per family.

With the help of the YLBHI and Tamansari people, they found that the land of Bandung City was free land, which meant it did not belong to the government nor the people.

The Tamansari people legally requested that the land be placed under their name before the matter was heard in the Administrative Court.

Eva Eryani Effendy (49) the forcibly evicted resident stated that since 1960 – 1980, her family and herself have tried to register their land, but it did not happen. YLBHI, other people in solidarity with the situation, and the remaining 33 families protested for their land rights. However, this led to violent actions taken by the 1,200 police officers (from the Public Order Agency), police dogs and gangsters. Many participants were beaten and injured.

Eva is deeply saddened that the Bandung Government has ‘closed their eyes for us’.

‘The Bandung Government does not care anymore about us. That is why we have chosen to fight further in Jakarta for Justice,’ Eva said.

Another forcibly evicted resident, Sambas Sadikin (58-year-old) said that ‘the officers arrived before 6.am, and started forcing residents to empty their houses at about 10 a.m.

‘This is very shocking. They arbitrarily evicted us and removed our belongings from our houses. Who will be responsible if our things are missing? I resist because the eviction is illegal and baseless.’

In 2017, there was a ‘Single Land Registration Program’ introduced by president Jokowi.

Eva and her family once again tried to register their beloved land under their name but the local government blocked it. The local government had registered the land under the ‘land of the government’. The BPN (National Land Institute) declared the Tamansari Land as a land of dispute. When it comes to a land of dispute, then there is no license to be issued and published, until further notice.

Bandung Legal Aid Institute (LBH Bandung) lawyer Rifqi Zulfikar (Ijul) took up the challenge to fight for the land rights of Tamansari community. Rifqi stated that ‘All along, the residents have managed the land and paid their taxes; but the city administration has never given them a chance to register their own and is instead arbitrarily and forcefully evicting them’.

Rasdian Setiadi (Satpol PP Bandung head) stated that ‘the eviction sought to secure the city administration’s assets and serve Tamansari residents’, most of whom he said, ‘had agreed to live in the rumah deret’. Tamansari project the ‘rumah deret’ is being carried out under the Bandung Public Housing and Settlement Agency with PT Sartonia Agung serving as the executor after he won an Rp. 73 million ($ 5.2 million US) tender for the project.

Ridwan Kamil (former Bandung major) was in the office when the project had begun. Currently serving in West Java governor, Ridwan previously promised that there would be no evictions. Bandung head Mr Rasdian affirmed that ‘How can we build if the existing buildings are not demolished?’ Construction should start early and be managed well so that it will not lag schedule. Furtherly illustrating that authorities had issued warning letters before the evictions. He declared that about 90% of Tamansari residents wanted to live in the new housing complex.

According to Jakarta Post, at least 176 residents have agreed to settle to low-cost apartments in Rancacili – located about 15km from the projects in Tamansari to wait for the construction to finish. Residents who refused to be relocated to the Rancacili – including Ena, Sambas and dozens of others who resisted Thursday’s eviction – will be given Rp. 26 million to rent a house for a year while waiting for the construction of the new row houses.

Once the Rumah Deret project has been completed, the city administration will offer units for renting starting between Rp. 280,000 – Rp. 400,000 per month.

After the protests in November 2017, 165 families accepted the compensation and went to find shelter with extended family. Most families affected felt the need to protect their families and so they stopped taking any further action against the government for their land rights. After the families were evicted, the houses were demolished. It is suggested that after the demolition the land was sold to business owners.

The compensation for the 165 families as promised by the government to be given to the families yearly was later rejected when the families sent a new proposal for the 2018 yearly budget.

On the 11 January 2020, 33 families moved to Jakarta to seek shelter at YLBHI offices and attend meetings with other governors about their land rights.

On the 21st January 2020, there was a protest held in front of the President’s Palace for the Tamansari people’s voices to be heard and immediate action to be taken by the government. Until today, the case is still on hold at the Administrative Court with both parties still attempting to fight for the disputed land.

As an International Studies student, I find this case appalling that even in the 21st century that there are still case relating to land rights. It does not make sense to take away the belonging of someone; build your infrastructure then make the owner pay monthly on their land to live. This case is a serious matter of taking the rights of the land of those who have been serving their land for nearly 40 years now. So, it baffles me to know that people are homeless and have lost everything after the eviction. Still now, the remaining residents of the Tamansari community have not yet given up hope in getting their voices heard to the Indonesian President Jokowi. I have met a family who currently sheltering in YLBHI, and I saw her little daughter who currently should be at school gaining an education and making a better future for her family. Unfortunately, she has come to Jakarta to fight further for their rights of getting their land back. She is missing out of the education that will help her grow into something she has always dreamt of, but rather is not attending school at this moment. Her parents had no option but to bring her with them to attend meetings and protests. It is disappointing to know that because of the eviction, the communities’ children are being affected. This could potentially setback of the months missed out from school and decrease the chances of developing further compared to children in their age.

 

(Written by Lili and Laila, based on an interview with Ijul, a public defender of LBH Bandung and Ibu Eva, a victim of this case also interview about the devastating moment of losing everything).

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