Agrarian Reform Movement in Indonesia and National Agrarian Reform Program

By: Iwan Nurdin
The inception of social and resistance political movements demanding agrarian justice through agrarian reform is inseparable from effectiveness of agrarian political regime since colonialism era hitherto.
The difference is, in the previous era, the movements demanding this agrarian justice highly had close relation directly to political movement even directly associating itself into the existing political party organizations. Other difference is, movement during colonialism era was directly targeted to the highest political demand namely national independence.

During post independence era, especially during Soekarno regime, these characteristics remained maintained. The pattern of such movement had resulted in movement demanding agrarian reform especially land reform movement easily stigmatized as PKI (Indonesian Communism Party)/communism after New Order instated. It is since PKI was one of the strongest political parties echoing land reform issues, even its subordinate organizations such as Barisan Tani Indonesia (BTI) carried out direct actions in occupation of lands controlled by landlord.

Agrarian reform movement revived in New Order era amid community educated by the government to keep away from activity containing political and ideology elements (depoliticization and deideologization). Therefore, one of characteristics of agrarian reform movement from New Order era and in several matters that are still maintained hitherto is a social movement in its form but having political nuance in issues developed.

Other characteristics developed by social movement established in New Order era were political freedom of peasant groups in establishing organization, freedom to plant trees from seeds, fertilizer and pesticide obliged by the New Order.

At first, the regions of this Agrarian Reform social movement grew and were determined by direct creativity of the movement activist – usually the educated and or medium class groups from urban areas – as well as the leaders of local movement organization to develop a social solidarity.

Due to this depoliticization and deideologization, the actors and organization of agrarian reform always avoid patterns of resolution through political means having relation to authority for example establishing political organization. Because, in people group themselves during such era there was common phobia to use these ways.

These activists encouraged the growth of solidarity among peasants through concrete thing and directly experienced in the peasant misery, for example agrarian conflict. Therefore, inception of this collective solidarity brought about grows peasant movement or peasant organization identity.

From this process, it can be identified that the most important and earliest growth agrarian reform movement in the New Order era is capability of the movement activists to metamorphose the public dissatisfaction into a solidarity bond. This bond was built from joint interaction process of activists and people who by all their creativities called the misery experienced by the people into a ”confrontation” with agrarian politic that was effective thereby creating a collective sense and bond. The next characteristic of agrarian reform movement in this phase is advocacy movement in resolution of many agrarian cases/disputes.

From this incident, it can be concluded that Agrarian Reform movement in Indonesia is a collective measure by a group of people having same anguish in a land control regime exploiting them.

In its early era, these movements grew with strong motif to settle disputes arising in community as well as struggle for freedom to organize. Therefore, this movement has close relation to democratization movements against Soeharto’s authoritarianism.

Activist group also started an issue correlating all struggles for conflict resolution to an agrarian reform issue. Different from agrarian reform movement in the previous era, the current agrarian reform movement is practically without guidance of an understandable direction book on movement or led by political party such as in 60s era. Agrarian reform movement currently grows from direct experiences of the actors at field. Therefore, the means of the movement organization can be in forms of peasant mass organization, traditional community organization.

After Soeharto was dethroned, the peasant movement grew fast through land occupancy and reclaiming actions. Then, during such era, the agrarian reform movement actors also started to knit peasant movements growing in local into national level movement organization body.

Frankly speaking, peasant organization in national level in Indonesia is not yet considered as a representation of movement in national level. Currently, agrarian reform movement especially peasant movement in national level has function to convey the struggle (spokesman) of series of problems experienced by the agrarian community in local. Agrarian reform movement in national level actually also plays role as policy advocacy in order that the government’s politic policy in national level provides larger room to peasant organization and traditional community in local level grows well.

The most important characteristics of agrarian reform movement in national level is justifying anything performed and taking place in local level reclaiming, occupation, education and organization) in state authority bodies (Government, Parliament, National Commission for Human Rights) to allow associations in local level exist, grow or metamorphose.

Process in region also experiences significant development, since many movement areas already carrying out land occupancy have successfully carried out social transformation therein by changing the way of cultivation. For example, a group of plantation laborers around the plantation has changed to become domestic scale peasant. In production forest areas for example, there are many peasant groups already successfully changing the pattern of monoculture planting owned by the forestry company to independent agro-forestry social system. By different way of thinking, then actually there have been agrarian revolution centers in Indonesian locals although its scale is still in kampong level.

In other peasant organization, to maintain existence of local center, the agrarian reform uses political rooms opened by the state by utilizing such as political space for example election of Village Head, BPD even local parliament and even playing key role in regional head election.

Various developments of agrarian reform struggle organization in Indonesia demands the movement actors to keep on opening agrarian reform political room to make its wider, playing wider dialogue room between agrarian reform movement in local and national to share experience each other and the most important is making agrarian transformation systematically in agrarian reform movement occupancy areas for used as new solidarity bond basis in agrarian reform movement. The new solidarity is peasant movement of which the solidarity is conflict based to production solidarity based.
National Agrarian Reform Program
The growth of agrarian reform movement in national level has contributed significant value in generating policy encouraging agrarian reform. This policy is for example Stipulation of MPR (People Consultative Assembly) No.IX/2001 regarding Agrarian Reform and Natural Resources Management. The inception of this stipulation is very important to eliminate previous political stigma and trauma in Indonesia relating to land reform. However, this policy was not yet elaborated in technical regulation of the president Abdurahman Wahid while he was dethroned.

Subsequently, during Megawati era, reform movement started to drive the inception of policies of National Commission for Agrarian Conflict Resolution. Unfortunately, the drive of NGO such KPA and National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) when already becoming draft of decree of the president, Megawati was lost in president election.
During president Soesilo era, the government is also continuously urged to perform agrarian reform through huge demonstration involving ten thousands of peasants. The urges and series of lobbies carried out have driven the government to carry out PPAN who will distribute 9.2 million hectares of land.

Although it is not the genuine agrarian reform, the agrarian reform movement in Indonesia selects the role to play in this program namely:

  • Making direct intervention in stipulating basis of PPAN policy through National Land Board thereby able to open opportunity of agrarian reform model of people version in many places.
  • Insisting that this program involves peasant association in national and local in determining agrarian reform object and subject.
  • Determining agrarian conflict area being or already becoming target of control area and community management to become PPAN object.
  • Together with peasant association proposing control and management model to encourage peasant association transformation as already described above.
  • Encouraging the inception of alliances to carry out monitoring to implementation of PPAN thereby opening widely the true agrarian reform campaign.
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