FEELING OF INJUSTICE AMONG PULAU PARI RESIDENTS









"I am not allowed to improve the environment or build a house unless I agree to pay rent. If I violate this rule, they threaten to tear down the building. I find it weird that I have to pay land rent here," said a local resident of Pulau Pari.

Subhan Nawawi (23) seemed in distress. He recalled how on 11 March 2017 around 50 police officers from the Kepulauan Seribu Police Station with rifles raided a ticket post at the Pasir Perawan beach.

Subhan Nawawi, who works as a guide at a paintball attraction at said beach, was one of the five workers arrested in the raid, based on an accusation that they were collecting fees to tourists illegally.

"There were many policemen at the port. They had rifles as if they were apprehending terrorists," he said.

Subhan and two other workers were eventually freed, but the others were declared suspects not long after. They are still being detained at the police station to await their court trial. A maximum sentence of 9-year awaits them.

The local residents reject the accusation that they were collecting fees to tourists illegally. Their claim is that they developed the tourism site independently since 2010, after finding that the proceeds they obtained from cultivating seaweed were not enough to meet their daily needs.

Furthermore, they say that they are the rightful owner of the land as they have been living on the island for generations.

"The people of Pulau Pari never sold the land to anyone. So, how come the National Land Agency (BPN) suddenly issued land certificates to another party? What’s the government’s intention?" he said.

Edi explained that they had a temporary deed of ownership (girik) for land, and had been paying land and building (PBB) tax. In 1980, the local sub-district office confiscated the deeds on grounds that they needed to be renewed. However, said office never met the promise. In fact, the residents are being forced to pay land rent to a company.

The conflict between PT Bumi Pari Asri and villagers in Pulau Pari has been heating up lately. The villagers are staying firm as they have been living on the island for generations. (Gresnews.com/Edy Susanto)