JAKARTA: A group of 170 farmers walked more than 1,800km to demand that President Joko Widodo resolve a land dispute involving a state-owned company.
They arrived here on Sunday after walking 45 days from the Deli Serdang regency in North Sumatra and hoped to meet Joko, according to The Jakarta Post.
Aris Wiyono, who represents the United Simalingkar Farmers Union, said the farmers had been in a tussle for several years with state-owned plantation company PT Perkebunan Nusantara II (PTPN II).
“Many of us have been living in cowsheds after we lost our homes and farms.
“We decided to walk to Jakarta because regional administrations could not give us any solutions,” Aris said.
“Conflict could ensue if we decide to fight for our land.
“Walking to Jakarta is the only way to minimise victims and avoid criminalisation,” he said during an online press conference on Monday.
The farmers also planned to stage a protest in front of the Merdeka Palace here.
Aris said upon arriving here, the farmers met officials from PTPN II, the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry and members of the House of Representatives, but the meetings did not conclude with any solutions.
“We want President Jokowi to settle the dispute once and for all,” he said.
Benny Wijaya from the Agrarian Reform Consortium claimed that the land conflict in two villages in Deli Serdang was only the tip of the iceberg for land dispute problems between farmers and state-owned enterprises.
Benny expressed hope that the government could settle the dispute as soon as possible to prevent more farmers from becoming victims.