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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
Name of conflict:PT LonSum conflict, Sumatra
State or province:North province, Sumatra
Location of conflict:Five 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:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Please see "Description".

Project area:170
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1998
Company names or state enterprises:PT London-Sumatra Company (PT LonSum) from Indonesia
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
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-economical ImpactsVisible: Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of livelihood
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
- Imprisonment + fine
Development of alternatives:With 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 an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Strong movement but little success.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

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
Contributor:J.-F. Gerber
Last update05/05/2014
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