Bongku released under assimilation program to prevent spread of Covid-19
Sep 7, 2020 —
I would like to thank the 44 thousand individuals who have supported the release of Pak
Bongku. It is a great pleasure to know that many are still concerned about justice for
indigenous people and smallholders like Bongku.
On 10 June 2020, Bongku was released from prison under an assimilation program aimed to
prevent the spread of Covid-19 (Ministry of Law and Human Rights’ Regulation No. 10/2020
and Minister of Law and Human Rights’ Decree No. M.HH-19.PK.0104.04 of 2020).
Previously, Bongku was sentenced to 1 year in prison and fined 200 million rupiahs for
cutting down eucalyptus trees on a small piece of customary land, now part of PT Arara
Abadi’s concession, to grow sweet potatoes for his family.
He was charged with violating Law on Prevention and Eradication of Forest Destruction (UU P3H). Not accepting the verdict, he filed an appeal although he later decided to withdraw it on 5 June 2020 as he was
missing his wife, children and relatives very much.
Despite the release, Bongku is still put under house arrest until November 2020, and still has to pay the fine of 200 million rupiahs. According to Riko Kurniawan, the Director of Walhi Riau, Bongku is also prohibited from doing certain agricultural practices on his customary
Thus, Bongku is released under an assimilation program, not because of the judge’s discretionary powers or the verdict being overturned.
Once again, thanks so much for your support for Bongku, friends. Bongku is one of the many indigenous members who are still fighting to reclaim their right to manage their customary land. Besides the Sakai indigenous tribe, of whom Bongku is a member, many indigenous tribes are still struggling with food and clean water crises.
Keep voicing your support for them, or you can start your petition now!
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