Pari Islanders fighting the occupation of their territory were given a glimmer of hope last month after a prominent environmental defender, Pak Sulaiman, was found not guilty of a land breach.
Sulaiman was accused of a land breach by PT Bumi Pari Asri, which led to him being charged in 2017. In a big victory for Pari Island last month, the environmental defender was found not guilty of the breach by North Jakarta District Court.
Sulaiman is one of many Pari Islanders who have faced criminalisation and intimidation as the company tried to push the community to leave the islands after they rejected the privatization of the island by PT Bumi Pari Asri. Sulaiman was accused of grabbing, selling and using the company’s land. PT Bumi Pari Asri claim they own 90% of Pari Island despite islanders disputing this.
The community of Pari Island, who are mostly fisherfolk, argue that they have lived on the island for more than 20 years. They conserve the mangroves and coral reef and have developed Community Based Resource Management through eco-tourism, managed by the community for the community.
The ‘Save Pari Island Coalition’, who have supported Pak Sulaiman in his court battle, says this victory gives them a glimmer of hope in their ongoing battle.
“What happened today is the result of the long process from joint advocacy between Pari Island communities and Save Pari Island Coalition (SPIC),” said an SPIC spokesperson.
“This process has succeeded in building the solidarity of the Pari Island community, as well as sending a message to all coastal communities in Indonesia to continue the struggle, and seize back their rights taken by corporations in the name of investment and development.”
The coalition have vowed they will not stop here.
The struggle will continue until the land certificate issued to PT Bumi Pari Asri is revoked, and the Pari Island Community can once again control and sustainably manage the marine resources of Pari island.