Moro-Moro People: Dark Side of Forestry Policy

Casava Plantation di Mesuji

On 2011, Mesuji district suddenly popular in Indonesia and Asia. There was a tragedy that hurt humanity. The tragedy was spreading by internet which there was a video described Mesuji as land of evil and dangerous.  For some months, daily newspaper in Lampung presented many stories about Register 45 forest, Mesuji as headline.  But, if you visited Moro-Moro village in Register 45 forest, your anxiety will fade with beautiful of blowing wind. Moro-Moro village just like an oasis in the desert of agrarian conflict in Register 45 forest.

Entering the border of Tulang Bawang and Mesuji districts, things that we can enjoy just cassava, palm oil and rubber plantations. There was bubbles of gray smoke in the sky that came from a factory in the center of the plantation. “This is Mbak, this road is border of Moro-Moro area,” said Wayan when we entered the area that labelled by a high gate made from bamboo, wood and cemen with red and blue colors. The area was small with some activities in warung (small food stall) in the edge of the road. 

Over there was a village with some small houses. But, it was banned and removed by the government some years ago. Then everyone moved to another spot, to the center of the land, and established a new village,” he pointed his forefinger to a location that became green cassava plantation, in the left side of Jalan Lintas Timur (Jalintim). In the center of plantation there was a high and beautiful Balinese temple that indicated people activity in the past. Hindu's gate that belong to Balinese people in Moro-Moro. It was a symbol of living.  

This area was splits into right and left. The left is Moro-Moro area and the right is company's area,” Wayan described the location in his Balinese accent. 

The company that just plant rubber. They construc a canal with its wide of 2 meters, in order to banned the people accessed the land to rob the rubber resin. They think we just poor robber haha," Wayan showed the canal to me. 

This area also had some small repair shops, small food stall and small coffee shop. After hundreds people established the area which was known as Moro-Moro village, the area became safe from robbery that frustrated so many people who traversed Jalintim to and from Lampung to South Sumatra provinces. Before Wayan stayed at Moro-Moro he worked in South Sumatra province as rubber plantation employee. His hometown is in Bali and for some years he stayed with his family in East Lampung district before traveled to South Sumatra.

Wayan is a Balinese guy who worked as a small rubber plantation farmer in Moro-Moro. He told me that when he worked in South Sumatra, he heard from someone that there was a huge land without owner in Mesuji, Lampung. So many people came to get a chance having new life. So, he borrowed Rp. 11 million rupiah from his family to owned his land spot and plant cassava. But, several months after that, before he harvested the cassava, the officer from local government warned them that their action was illegal because the land was a concession of a company which had Industrial Timber Plantation Permit without those people awareness. He also arrested by the police and jailed for 2 years. 

He trapped by the government in order to frightened other people who have similar hope like him. After he released he brought his family and moved to Moro-Moro village that already exist for 15 years and having farmer organization who help hopeless people like him. Moro-Moro people suffered as as much as him, but they were organized themselves and has a leader who guide their movement and aspiration. They also assisted by local a NGO and some student activists from top university in Lampung to struggle for their land right.
A tiny house belong to a farmer in Moro-Moro

The company that stated by Wayan was PT. Silva Inhutani Lampung, a company that manage a concession area for 32.600 hectares for rubber and acacia. The company has Industrial Timber Forest Permit/Hak Pengusahaan Hutan Tanaman Industri (HPHTI) in Register 45. The area was so wide and the people believed that the government was unfair because give the concession of the very huge area to the company, but never give similar one to the people who need just 2 hectares/family to survive. Yah, just for survive. In 1997 the government added the area to be 42.100 hectares with period management of 45 years. Some areas were known stolen from indigenous people in Talang Gunung village and Pelita Jaya village as trans-migrant area. Due to the unfair policy, the conflict never solved until now.

Based on a research by Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC) in 2013, people who inhabited in Pelita Jaya was employee from Java who worked for a timber company that very popular in the period after Independence and for worked in Netherland-India's plantation in 1970s. The employee then bought some land to make living with their family and developed their own village and became inhabitant till now. 

Pelita Jaya village were existed many years before the government published a policy about Forest Map Government Agreement/Tata Guna Hutan Kesepatakan (TGHK) in 1980. Whereas the decision about area of Register 45 forest that given away by Talang Gunung/Talang Batu people was in 1940s due to forest mapping by Netherland-Indie Government. The people were existed since 1918s. 
Balinese religious ceremony in Moro-Moro

The more I entered the Register 45 area, the more I saw a green carpet of cassava plantation. Small bamboo or wood houses built in that green scenery like Hobbitian's abode. I couldn't smell kind of agrarian conflict that the media informed to public sphere. The area seem as ordinary green agriculture area that waited for harvest season. The traffic in Jalintim was the only real music of the quiet area of Register 45. 

"Years ago, only acacia that exist here. When the people got very angry they were cut down the tree and became this cassava plantation that owned by thousands poor people from around Lampung," Said Eko, a volunteer who helps Moro-Moro people get their land right since 2010. 
"We never worried since their deed just for people. Poor people who need just small area to survive." Then Eko married with a rubber farmer' daughter and became resident in Moro-Moro.

Apart from Moro-Moro, the people who occupied the land were divided into several blocks. "At 2008 I got a land in Pekat. Everyone got 2 hectares for cassava plantation and small house like this. I borrow money from my family. In my hamlet in East Lampung district I am just a laborer with very small income since we have a mountains debt to a loan shark. Even we worked hard like a dog or slave, we never settled our debt. Due to my family condition, I tried a get this chance and started new life here in this tiny house," said Sutirta in his small and hot bamboo house. 

I could see that he is good father when he embrace her little daughter tight then smiled to his wife. I visited him to get sample for the occupant's side story about the conflict. Sutirta learned for his life in Bakauheni and he realized that his family will never happy if having a big loan to loan shark in whole of their life.

To be continue...

Depok, 5 September 2015


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