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PT PSA Oil Palm plantation conflict, Sumatra, Indonesia


Oil palm is today the fastest growing monoculture in the tropics. Indonesia is the 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 PSA Oil Palm plantation conflict, Sumatra, Indonesia
State or province:Sumatra
Location of conflict:Village of Tambusai, Rokan Hulu District, Riau province
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
Specific commodities:Palm oil
Project Details and Actors
Project details

PT PSA obtained a land use permit over 10,600 ha of land from the Minister of Agrarian Affairs/Head of National Land Agency. An investigation by a government team in 2001 into PT PSA’s plantations found that the company was developing oil palm plantations without any formal licence over a further area of 2900 ha.

Project area:10,600 ha concession + 2,900 further being used without permission
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1995
Company names or state enterprises:PT Panca Surya Agrindo (PT PSA) from Indonesia
PT Fangiono Perkasa Sejati from Indonesia
Surya Dumai Group from Indonesia
Relevant government actors:Minister of Agrarian Affairs/Head of National Land Agency
Governor of Riau Rusli Zainal
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Farmers Association for Justice (KAPUK)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Landless peasants
Forms of mobilization:Street protest/marches
Property damage/arson
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Refusal of compensation
in 2005 they forced their way into the office of the Governor of Rusli Zainal [1]
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Land dispossession, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Violent targeting of activists
No new extension.
Irfan Rangkuti, aged 41, and Amran Lubis, aged 35, both of Tambusai Timur village, were cut and
stabbed to death by private militias on 24 November 2004. 5 other demonstrators were injured, one of whom, Usman Siregar, died of his wounds several months later [2]
Proposal and development of alternatives:Agrarian reform.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Nothing has been solved, but at least there is no new extension of the plantation. In 2005, the Farmers Association for Justice rejected a company-government offer of a smaller area of land on a neighbouring village. They have continued to demand that those responsible for the deaths of the 3 men be brought to justice.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[2] 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]

Julien-François Gerber. A political ecology of industrial tree plantations with special reference to Cameroon and Ecuador. Ph.D. Thesis
[click to view]

[1] Article about a demonstration at the Governor's house: Wednesday, May 4, 2005 (In Indonesian)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:J.-F. Gerber
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:1195
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