The Orang Rimba Denounced PT. SAL to Rajo Godong (Vice Government)

Five tumenggung (Head of the group) visited and told their plight to the governor of Jambi Province. All the tumenggung namely, Sikar, Kecinto Bepayung, Njalo and Meti have already come to the governor’s office since Tuesday morning (28/8). They were set to back-and-forth and were asked to wait for Assistant III of the governor. However, they were just able to meet the assistant III (Asisten III) of Local Secretariat (Setda) of Jambi Province after 2 p.m. Indeed, The Orang Rimba has no problem of waiting although it would take too much time as long as the government is capable of finding the solution and noticing their issues.

According to Tumenggung Sikar who has been living in Muara Delamg SP C Core Zone I of PT SAL up to now, their issue has been coming up since the company took and devastated their forest. “We have been living in an uncertainty condition as if we are at one’s wit end, so here we are, denouncing to bepak rajo godong (literally, someone who has more power and deemed to have capability to solve certain issue,” Said Sikar.

He added that the Orang Rimba is collecting fallen palm fruits at the moment to survive, yet, when the security of one company knew what they have done, all the fruits will be seized. “the land where the company (PT SAL) is on, once belong to our ancestors,” said Sikar.

In addition, he also witnessed that the life of The Orang Rimba got even worse. Based on the Survey conducted by KKI WARSI, there are 192 patriarchs with total 778 populations whose land is converted into plantation of PT SAL. “We were put in a housing area near PT SAL, yet, we have no land, transmigrant area was developed beside us and provided a land for their business. What are we living from? We are even banned and not permitted to collect the fallen palm fruits,” said Tumenggung Kecinto.  

The government has put Tumenggung Kecinto and all his group members into a housing program in the last 2001 in Air Panas area, alongside PT SAL. They thought that they will be receiving a similar treatment to the villagers’ (transmigrant people) as many of them were brought into their area in the 90s. “Apparently, we were given neither land nor anything, our life gets harder,” said Kecinto, also known as Afrizal – new name used since he has been in the housing program.

The issue of the Orang Rimba in PT SAL has long begun. The company got their license in 1990 and began to develop a plantation by demolishing the forest resulting more marginal condition of the Orang Rimba. Time flies and The Orang Rimba realized their condition, asking for their rights back. There are number of demands from the Orang Rimba. First, the company could give their land back by allocating 500 ha palm plantation of PT SAL and distributing this land to each family. It means, each family will get two ha of land. If they can not make this option, the Orang Rimba expected the government not to extend their license or permission towards the PT SAL concession so the company will have nothing to do with the area. “If they contract is over, do not give them any extension, just give us our land back,” said Sikar.

Other demands was, the company provides the Orang Rimba other land, wherever the land is on, as long as the Orang Rimba could access it would be okay. The land purchasing shall be made through CRS funding of the company.

Tagor Mulia Nasution, the Assistant III of Setda of Jambi Province sought to respond the proposal of the Orang Rimba, he stated that the local government noticed all his people not limited to the Orang Rimba. “We will solve this issue, we have noted what you (The Orang Rimba) have conveyed, and we will also meet the company to hear from, so the solution will be made,” said Tagor.

PT SAL (subsidiary of Astra Groups) has brought extremely transformation to the spatial plan of the Orang Rimba. The existence of this company followed by transmigrant program at Orang Rimba’s indigenous land has omitted most of their traditional activities where they used to live from. Their traditional activities such as gathering, collecting forest products, farming and hunting have long gone as the result of government policy which lets the company develop and own forest and land for their plantation as well as trasnmigrant program.

The life of the Orang Rimba around PT SAL has been so marginal and apprehensive without any certainty of better and brighter future. No more land and forest they could use but purchasing. The Orang Rimba lives by collecting exotic resources such as snakes, lizards, crocodile penis, rubber, palm fruits, betel nuts, petai, jengkol (which most people’s crops) or secondhand goods which no longer used by the villagers. Sometimes, the Orang Rimba stole the crops from transmigrant’s farm and took fruits from palm oil plantation.

The activities above often raise conflict with the community around. WARSI noted that there have been 14 people of the Orang Rimba died because of the conflict with the villagers in the last 15 years.

“Persoalan ini sudah sangat panjang, harus segera diuraikan pemerintah, jika tidak pemerintah sudah melakukan pembiaran yang bisa berujung pada etnosida Orang Rimba,” kata antropolog Komunitas Konservasi Indonesia Robert Aritonang.

“This issue has already been too long, the government needs to immediately elaborate this, otherwise, they have let ethnocide in the Orang Rimba,” said Indonesian Conservation Community anthropologist, Robert Aritonang.

Therefore, Robert said, the issue needs to have any feedback soon to secure the life of each citizen. “there are many possibilities we could have, land providing commitment, no extension for logging concession and land purchasing in other place from CSA funding owned by the company are proper options the company and the government could take,” said Robert.

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