In the mid-1990s, amid rapid expansion of the tourism industry on the island of Lombok, hundreds of families who had lived in the area for many generations were evicted from 800 hectares of farmland for Lombok Airport, built specifically to provide access to new tourist resorts. Airport construction plans stalled when economic crisis hit Indonesia in the late 1990s, but local municipality oppression of peasants had continued and by 2005 the project was back on the agenda. On 23rd August 2005 2,631 residents of Tanak Awu were forcibly evicted for the airport by local authorities accompanied by police. The evictees had never been consulted about the airport project and were left unable to feed themselves.
A report published by Focus on the Global South documents events nearly a month later, on 18th September 2005, when police, without provocation, fired into a crowd of 1,000 people who had gathered to commemorate Indonesia’s National Peasant’s Day and protest the construction of Lombok Airport on fertile farmland. Thirty-three protesters were injured, 27 of them by gunshots, six from being beaten by police. The people who were shot included two women and at least one child. A report by the Land Research Action Network (LRAN) stated that eye-witnesses including journalists saw police fire on the crown, which included women and children, spraying people with teargas and gunfire consisting of both rubber and metal bullets. The meeting was violently dispersed and at least ten peasants were arrested, some of then dragged from their hospital beds, and they were denied access to their supporters, lawyers and journalists .
Videos showing horrific footage of police brutality were shown widely on national television networks, including a woman being violently dragged along the ground for about 30 metres and a man bleeding profusely from his head being roughly thrown against a pickup truck by a policeman grabbing hold of his hair. Human rights specialists noted severe violation of a number of internationally recognized human rights including the right to physical integrity and the right to peaceful assembly. Secretary General of the Indonesian Federation of Peasant Unions (FSPI) was outraged at the airport construction plans on productive peasant lands. Their fertile farmland was the only resource available to them for their livelihoods.
The shooting of protesters took place just a few hours before the arrival of an international delegation composed of FIAN International, La Via Campesina and other international NGOs, invited by peasant farmers to discuss the ongoing land struggles related to planned construction of Lombok Airport. FIAN launched an urgent action calling upon the government to withdraw a regulation permitting compulsory acquisition of land for public facilities such as airports without due process and safeguards for poor landholders. The airport project threatened the right to food of about 7,000 people. State violence and forced evictions without proper rehabilitation and compensation violated the Indonesian constitution and international human rights law.
In June 2006 farmers reacted angrily to surveyors, guarded by police, measuring land for the airport. Farmers were anticipating land measurement by PT Angkasa Pura (operator of Indonesia’s airports) and the Central Lombok Regency government and had been refusing land acquisition and the compensation offer for 12 years.
In November 2016 it was reported that a number of residents impacted by Lombok Airport were still seeking clarity and resolution regarding land acquisition issues, highlighting flaws in calculation of land price which affected compensation rates and demanding settlement of outstanding payments. In March 2018 a group of people representing communities affected by Lombok Airport went to the office of the Komisi Pemberantasan Korupsi (KPK), a body charged with eradicating corruption, requesting legal assistance regarding disputed land expropriated for Lombok Airport. Residents claimed that compensation for more than 7 hectares of land had not been paid by PT Angkasa Pura and that measurement of the land in 1995 had misrepresented the size of the land in question. A letter on the matter had already been filed in November 2017, by the national commission on human rights, Komnas HAM. (See less)