Rio Dewanto at Mekar Jaya, North Sumatra, the site of a long-running rural conflict. (Photo courtesy of Visinema Pictures)

Rio Dewanto Releases Documentary on Agrarian Conflict in North Sumatra

BY : LISA SIREGAR

JANUARY 16, 2017

Jakarta. Star of box-office hit "Filosofi Kopi" Rio Dewanto released a short documentary which detailed the struggle of local farmers in a long-running rural conflict in Mekar Jaya, a village in the Langkat district of North Sumatra, on his YouTube page on Monday (16/01).

The 13-minute short was filmed when Rio visited the village last month. At the beginning of the documentary, Rio said he was made aware about the agrarian conflict that broke out in the village in November last year by reports on social media.

In that incident, 1,500 police and military personnel seized 554 hectares of land using bulldozers, causing serious injuries to 13 protesters including women and children.

The incident was reported last year by BeritaSatu TV.

Local farmers said they had inherited the land from their families for generations. Hermansyah, a representative from the Indonesian Farmers Union (SPI), told BeritaSatu that they had owned the land since 1947.

Tempo reported that the conflict began in 1998 when Malaysia-based National Plantation Company (Perkebunan Nusantara/PTPN II) expanded into the area.

After Langkat Nusantara Kepong Malaysia took over PTPN II later on, the company's effort to evict Indonesian farmers became more intense. 

Rio said his involvement as an actor and producer in Filosofi Kopi had made him more concerned about the lives of struggling farmers in Indonesia.

"I made this documentary film because I hope more people become aware about the conflict and I am hoping those farmers get the help they need soon," he said.

Watch Rio's short documentary here:

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