Women’s National Commissioner Receives Complaints of Human Rights Violations by TPL against Indigenous Peoples in the Lake Toba Area.

Monday, November 22 at Komnas Perempuan’s Friendship Room, Jakarta, Dewi Kanti, head of the Complaints section and Tyas Anggraini, commissioner of Komnas Perempuan received complaints from indigenous communities from the Lake Toba area.

At the beginning of the meeting, Dewi Kanti explained that Komnas Perempuan as an institution that focuses on upholding human rights, especially women’s rights, welcomes the complaint from the Alliance for the People’s Movement to Close TPL.

Kristina Sitanggang from the Community Assistance Institute, explained that the purpose of the Alliance’s visit to Komnas Perempuan was to report on the human rights violations committed by PT Toba Pulp Lestari, particularly in the confiscation of customary lands and environmental damage that greatly impacted women. Departing from the human rights violations committed by PT TPL, the Alliance for the Close of TPL really hopes for Komnas Perempuan’s support to urge the government to immediately close the company.

Kristina also hopes that Komnas Perempuan will go to the regions to see the impacts of PT TPL’s presence especially on women.

Mrs. Mersy Silalahi, representing women from the Lamtoras Indigenous Community said, “There are many bad impacts of the presence of TPL in our village. First, pollute the environment and pollute our drinking water sources. The company set up camp on a pennant or spring which is the source of clean water to our village. They polluted our water sources for three months. In fact, it is a source of drinking, cooking, bathing and washing water for the people in our village.” Mrs. Mesry also added that the presence of PT TPL added to the suffering of women due to criminalization actions that were often carried out by PT TPL. Her husband and two other people are victims of criminalization. Criminalization has occurred since 2003, when there were arrests of community members. Last year, two residents, one of whom was her husband, were victims of criminalization. Her husband was sentenced to nine months in prison. “This incident had a very heavy impact on me as a mother of five children. While my husband was in prison, I was the breadwinner for the family. And the most painful for me, when my child is also experiencing pressure at school. A week after my husband’s arrest, several people came to the village that we did not know to intimidate us. As a result, the men fled from the village. For two weeks, we guarded the security post to prevent anyone from being kidnapped,” explained Mrs. Mersy.

In addition to the loss of the right to a sense of security and comfort, the right to carry out cultural rituals is also disrupted due to the destruction of forests and other natural resources. Natal Simanjuntak as the representative of the Natumingka Indigenous Community also conveyed the same thing that in their community, namely the Indigenous People Community of Op Panduraham Simanjuntak, the presence of PT TPL also causes environmental pollution, criminalization and intimidation.

“On May 18, 2021, violence was committed by TPL employees and law enforcement officers when we defended our customary territory. We were attacked, leaving 12 injured. Regarding this condition, we made a report to the police, but so far there has been no response,” said Natal Simanjuntak.

Sahala Pasaribu from the Natinggir community also said: “As a husband, I really feel the ironic impact of the presence of TPL, such as the pollution of the river that we use for daily needs. In addition, there are restrictions on living space. Because our village is still using firewood. When we take firewood from our customary forest, we are treated like thieves. Previously, we had experienced intimidation from the TPL with threats to be reported to the police. Therefore, we ask that government agencies pay attention to the small community.”

Jonri Simanjuntak from the Onan Harbangan – Nagasaribu community also said, “We came to Jakarta with around 40 people representing 22 indigenous communities. Most of the people’s livelihoods are frankincense farmers. Due to the presence of TPL, the public’s incense yields are reduced. In addition, the yield of rice fields is decreasing, usually from one harvest it can provide food for 1 year. But because of the presence of this company, the yield of rice fields has also decreased.”

Marojahan Sitanggang from the village community of Janji Maria said “We still use a lot of rainwater there for washing, cooking and other kitchen needs. Apart from relying on rainwater, we also rely on river water. But the presence of this TPL has an impact on the needs of the kitchen.” Responding to complaints from community representatives, Mrs. Dewi representing the commissioner of Komnas Perempuan said that natural resource conflicts that occur have always marginalized indigenous peoples, and the state seems reluctant to acknowledge the existence of indigenous peoples. He also promised to follow up on the complaint.

This complaint will also be reported at the DPR plenary meeting on December 21, 2021, which will come.

In addition, Mrs. Dewi hopes that there will be additional data, such as police reports that have not yet been responded to and data on violence experienced by women in the community.***

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