20 July 1998
Indonesian villagers battle to reclaim farmland
SOME 400 villagers swarmed into a ranch in Cibedug, south of Jakarta, Indonesia, and planted banana trees to mark out land they allege was sized from them by the former dictator Suharto.
One said that Suharto claimed he was doing research to improve farming methods, but that the only ones to benefit were Suharto and his family.
Now the local branch of the countrys legal aid institute and lawyers are preparing a lawsuit against the former autocrat.
They also successfully negotiated with ranch managers to allow the villagers to cultivate fallow land until the case is settled.
In the past, villagers were reportedly beaten up by soldiers when they tried to recover the land they claimed was theirs, according to The Guardian.
- The Independent 20/07/98 page 13