Military Commander: Withdraw TNI Soldier From Plantation

Military Commander: Withdraw TNI Soldier From Plantation

Harian Analisa, September 7, 2012 | Free Translation by Adji Darsoyo

Banda Aceh, (Analisa). Iskandar Muda Regional Military Commander, Maj. Gen. TNI Zahari Siregar, instructed the entire military range under his command to withdraw all soldiers involved in the security of plantations (companies).

“From now on, I order the entire unit commanders within the Iskandar Muda Command Range to withdraw all soldiers post in plantation to return to training,” emphasized the Commander to the present journalists after the inauguration and hand over of the New Military Resort Commander 012/TU, last Thursday (06/09).

The Commander reminded that TNI soldiers have to be professional and their duties are not in the plantations. TNI soldiers have to train and prepare themselves to counter any threat towards the national security and stability. Therefore, they have to keep participating the (military) training.

The instruction to withdraw soldiers working in plantations in Aceh was based on complaints by the community and environmental NGOs about military soldiers working for the security of private plantation companies.

The present of those TNI members can exacerbate land conflict between the companies and the surrounding community, since intimidation and violence were applied to increase pressure on the community.

Besides, the Commander has also instructed the whole Unit Commanders to keep an eye on their soldiers involved in illegal logging. If caught, they will be strictly charge with sanctions, since TNI soldiers are not to tolerate any misconduct.

This assertive statement of the Iskandar Muda Commander was related to the indication of the involvement of TNI soldier in illegal logging in Aceh, which proliferation has caused frequent flash floods, such as in Aceh Tenggara recently.

“I will hunt them down and strictly charge with sanctions if any of my men are involved in illegal logging,” emphasized the Commander, while added that it is impossible for him to check ther soldier individually. Therefore, all Unit Commanders are instructed to immediately report on any involvement in illegal logging.

Looking at the current condition of Aceh’s forest, the Commander with his Military Range would apply their effort to anticipate any violation conducted by TNI soldiers in the field through replanting of degraded forest that increase the possibility of causing flash floods.

“We will replant degraded forest areas together with the Regional Government to avoid disaster such as flash flood. Therefore, we are currently in coordination with regional government officials to conduct replanting of degraded forest together. Soldiers of the Military Command are ready to implement the replanting activity,” he emphasized.

In reply to the statement of the Commander, WALHI Aceh expressed their support toward the determination and the commitment to apply sanction to any involved TNI individual in illegal logging in Aceh.

“We should express appreciation and support towards the commitment of the Commander, who is concerned about the protection of Aceh’s forest,” said the Executive Director of WALHI Aceh, TM Zulfikar, who has been confirmed separately yesterday.

According to Zulfikar, the most important thing is not only statement, but concrete action has to be implemented by the Commander in the field. Law enforcement has to start from the leaders and law enforcers themselves on TNI individual involved in the encroachment of protection forest in Nagan Raya. “This has to be immediately investigated by the Commander and we have the data,” said Zulfikar.

Currently, there are many locations in Aceh, which forests are degraded, leading to the impression as if it was omitted to happen. Therefore, it is hoped that in the future, the Commander investigates any TNI individual involved in illegal logging in Aceh.

The current proliferation of illegal logging in Aceh was caused by three different parties, farmers with no clear livelihood, officials backing up with protection and brokers distributing timber coming from illegal logging.

If those three parties could be strictly charge with sanctions, Aceh’s forest can be protected from illegal loggers. In the contrary, if illegal logging is protected by officials, even through their direct involvement, Aceh will hopelessly safe from illegal logging. “We hope this commitment does not only come from the commander, but also from the Provincial Government of Aceh,” said Zulfikar. (irn)

original article in Bahasa Indonesia available here

About endoftheicons

The Leuser Ecosystem on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia is in grave danger. Local politicians want to allow logging, mining and palm oil plantations in this vulnerable area. Sumatran orangutans, rhinos, elephants and tigers are already hanging on by a thread. They will not survive the destruction of the Leuser Ecosystem.

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