The government of Indonesia said that will investigate allegations of the mass murder of farmers by local policemen in a land dispute in Lampung in the Mesuji district of Sumatra.
The Jakarta Globe reported that on Wednesday, a group of farmers from Mesuji, accompanied by a former military general named Saurip Kadi, went to government officials in Jakarta with the allegation that at least 30 farmers were killed between 2009 and 2011 in connection with attempts by a palm oil and natural rubber plantation firm called PT Silva Inhutani to evict them from their lands.
The group also showed government officials a video which allegedly depicted several of the killings by police as well as the bodies. There are reportedly gruesome depictions of beheading in the video.
A lawyer named Bob Hasan representing the farmers told the Jakarta Post newspaper: “They [local police] intentionally put the heads in an open space to terrorize local farmers.”
Kadi told the paper: “Plantation companies in the area hire so-called Pam Swakarsa [informal private security forces] which also consist of police and military personnel. These forces have continued to attack, assault, intimidate, and even rape locals whom they consider opposition.”
Julian Aldrin Pasha, a spokesman for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, told local reporters: “If the facts are as we have heard, action must be taken against any individual involved, be they government officials or security personnel or members of the public.”
However, a spokesman for National Police, Sr. Comr. Boy Rafli Amar, told media that the video was doctored and edited to make the police seem culpable.
“The intention was to show that the [perpetrators were police officers],” he said. “We will check the motive of the video [maker].”
A senior government official named Tubagus Hasanuddin also seemed skeptical about the authenticity of the video.
“First there are two locations, in Lampung and South Sumatra. Second, how could an amateur stand to watch people being decapitated,” he said. “I am a soldier and I can’t watch an animal being slaughtered.”
Tubagus, from the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) told the Globe newspaper: “I have told Saurip Kadi I want to talk to witnesses but until now he hasn’t provided anyone.”
The police in Lampung stated that two people were killed in Mesuji between locals and the police on property belonging to Silva Inhutani.