Thu, 02 Oct 2003

West Jakarta to continue with forced evictions

Bambang Nurbianto and Evi Mariani, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

West Jakarta municipality administration will continue with its plans to clear some 700 houses on a plot of land next to Mal Taman Anggrek on Jl. S. Parman, West Jakarta, on Thursday morning, although the residents affected claim they have not received any prior official notification of this.

The plan was revealed earlier this week, only days after the administration forcibly evicted thousands from their homes in Cengkareng, West Jakarta; a man eventually died after the clash and a teenage girl, allegedly, was sexually abused.

West Jakarta Mayor Sarimun Hadisaputra said on Wednesday that the eviction would commence at 8 a.m., involving some 4,000 security officers from the city police and city public order agency.

He insisted the plan would continue as the decision had already been taken by West Jakarta District Court, saying that the squatters had no right to live there. The decision was also confirmed by the Jakarta High Court.

The residents, who lived in permanent buildings on the land, said that they had heard of such plans but had not received any notification letter about them from the administration.

Nurhayati Sitanggang, one of the residents, told The Jakarta Post that she had heard about the plan but thought it was only a rumor.

"I've been hearing about the eviction for a week ... But the subdistrict head hasn't come here to inform us officially," she said. "I thought that an eviction like this must be notified in advance, through the proper channels."

She said that she was aware of the plan from some men she identified as thugs and policemen.

Violence has marked previous evictions; this time the mayor has received a death threat from unidentified people. The West Jakarta public order office head and head of the Jakarta legal bureau have also received similar threats.

However, Sarimun claimed that he would not be deterred by the threat and would continue with the eviction.

The municipality plans to clear thousands of "illegal" dwellings in some areas before the start of the Muslim fasting month, which will fall in the last week of October.

Residents will be paid compensation, but for Nurhayati the amount will not be enough as payment will be only Rp 3 million (US$352.94) at most.

"I won't insist on staying here; it's not my land. But I demand fair compensation as we have made improvements to this area. All we ask is enough money to move elsewhere," she said.

Nurhayati asked her son to take pictures of the house "so if they bulldoze it, we'll have evidence to show that we had a permanent house."

As in the case of West Jakarta, North Jakarta Mayor Effendi Annas has also announced that his officers will demolish dwellings built illegally in the area under his jurisdiction.

The demolition will target houses built on land owned by state-owned oil and gas company PT. Pertamina in Plumpang, by PT Jasa Marga along the toll road in Pluit and along the banks of the Angke and Adem Rivers and the Cengkareng Main Drain.

Some 200 fishermen from the Angke and Adem Rivers demonstrated on Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan against the proposal.

Sexual abuse allegation made to Jakarta Police

The family of a 15-year-old girl who was reportedly abused following her eviction in Cengkareng, West Jakarta, has reported the matter to the Jakarta Police.

"We hope the case will soon go to court," said Saur M. Simanungkalit, a spokesperson of the evicted Cengkareng residents.

He said the residents would also file other complaints involving violence during the eviction.

Chairman of the National Commission on Child Protection Seto Mulyadi said earlier that he had received a report of possible sexual harassment involving a girl who was found in a state of shock at Kota railway station, West Jakarta.

The girl claimed she had been taken from Cengkareng and moved to various places in Jakarta following the eviction, by several men wearing blue uniforms.

In a hearing on Wednesday at the office of the National Commission on Human Rights, Central Jakarta, the girl's mother cried and screamed, saying her girl was raped and demanding Seto, who attended the hearing, help investigate the case.

No official statement was made by the police on the matter. -- JP