PT LonSum conflict, Sumatra


Oil palm is today the fastest growing monoculture in the tropics. Indonesia is the world's largest producer. The country has witnessed a massive conversion of customary (adat) land to oil palm (and fast-wood) plantations. Between 1967 and 2007, oil palm monocultures have increased about 50 times and the government is planning to expand the area under plantation.

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Basic Data
NamePT LonSum conflict, Sumatra
ProvinceNorth province, Sumatra
SiteFive villages of the Serdang Bedagai District: Desa Pargulaan, Dusun Garahap-Desa Simpang Empat, Desa Cempedak Lobang, Desa Naga Rejo and Desa Naga Timbul
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific CommoditiesPalm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsPlease see "Description".
Project Area (in hectares)170
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date1998
Company Names or State EnterprisesPT London-Sumatra Company (PT LonSum) from Indonesia
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Land occupation
Property damage/arson
- Physical confrontation (collision between riot police and villagers led to a company vehicle being burnt)
- Authority lobbying (the community tried to put pressure on district level, provincial and national authorities including ministers and the national parliament).
- Planting of locally useful plants on the company's land (corn, banana and cassava).
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseDeaths
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
- Imprisonment + fine
Development of AlternativesWith no solution found, some 300 villagers once again occupied in 2006 the contested plantation land and planted corn, banana and cassava as a way of demonstrating that the land was theirs.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Strong movement but little success.
Sources and Materials

Marti, S., 2008. Losing ground – the human rights impacts of oil palm plantation expansion in Indonesia. Friends of the Earth, London; SawitWatch, Bogor.
[click to view]

Sius Riyadi, E. (coord.), 2010. Human Rights Violation in the Palm Oil Plantation PT PP Lonsum Tbk-North Sumatera. Position Paper No. 1/2010. Jakarta: Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM).
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorJ.-F. Gerber
Last update05/05/2014