Benutzerspezifische Werkzeuge
Amnesty Urgent Actions
Startseite Urgent Actions 2021 02 Farmers detained amid conservation work
UA 023/21
Abgeschlossen am 25. März 2021
Mitteilung schliessen

Positive developments


Syamsul (Samsul) Bahri and Samsir were released on bail by the Langkat Regency Police Chief Adj. Comr. Sr. Edi Suranta Sinulingga on 24 February, as per a request filed on 12 February. The two men have since returned home, on the condition that they report to the Langkat Regency Police twice a week and are available to appear when next required by the police.

It is important that we continue to take action through the UA as our call for the police to release and drop the charges against Syamsul (Samsul) Bahri and Samsir have not yet been achieved. The pair remain suspects for the alleged assault allegations, and their lawyers are currently discussing next steps. We will be sure to let you know of any changes to calls or strategy in the coming weeks.

Criminalization of environmental human rights defenders must end, and authorities must ensure that they are able to carry out their peaceful activities without any fear of harassment, intimidation, arbitrary detention or imprisonment, brought about by the state or economic actors.

We thank everyone for taking action and hope for continued efforts in amplifying the call. This positive development proves that international pressure is working and will always be key to call out injustice!

Thank you in advance for your continued action.

Farmers detained amid conservation work

AI-Index: ASA 21/3728/2021

Samsul Bahri and Samsir, father and son from a farmer community in North Sumatra province, have been detained since 10 February 2021 in what is feared to be spurious charges. Advocates have labelled their arrest as a form of criminalization that specifically aims to stifle the farmers’ work in rehabilitating a mangrove forest in the area and their work to claim their rights to land. Environmental human rights defenders in Indonesia are among the most persecuted activists in the country. Many continue to face intimidation, threats, and accusations that appear to be used to undermine their activities.


In late 2017, the government granted the Nipah Farmer community the right to manage a 242-hectare land in Kwala Serapuh Village, North Sumatra province, for sustainable use under a social forestry permit. The community has since then been working to rehabilitate mangrove forests in this area. The community is protesting the operation of a palm oil company that owns a plantation on land the community claims the right to manage.

The accusation filed against Samsul Bahri and Samsir dates to a case in December 2020 while members of the Nipah Farmer community were working on an environmental rehabilitation project on the land they manage under the social forestry scheme. According to witness testimonies collected by local NGOs, including WALHI North Sumatra, LBH Medan, and Srikandi Lestari, two people arrived at the site on 18 December and took pictures of their activities.

Samsul Bahri, the community’s chairman, questioned the two individuals on their intention of visiting the area. Afterwards, one of the individuals walked away and called his friend saying that he was «being beaten up» in a loud voice so that others could hear, before jumping into the river. The Nipah Famer community quickly rescued him with a boat and took him to safety before asking him to clarify the statement he had previously made in the call. The individual then said that he was not being beaten up by any of the community members and his statement was recorded in a video by a member of the community. The man’s friend came to pick him up not long after.

Almost two months later, on 8 February 2021, Samsul Bahri and Samsir received a letter of summons by the Tanjung Pura Police to appear for questioning on 10 February as suspects regarding allegations brought by one of the menwho had filed a report to the police stating that Samsul and other farmers assaulted him on 18 December 2020. The two were charged under Article 170 of the Criminal Code on group violence. The dubious charges against the pair have raised questions since Samsul and Samsir had never been questioned as witnesses or asked to comment on the report before. The pair have been detained since 10 February.

Local NGOs who advocate for the case believe the arrest to be based on false accusations against Samsul Bahri and Samsir and to be a form of criminalization aimed to stifle the community’s work in conserving the mangrove forests and claiming their rights to land. In a statement to the coalition of NGOs, Langkat Regency Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Edi Suranta Sinulingga denied concerns over criminalization and claimed the police have collected evidence over the assault.

Environmental human rights defenders in Indonesia who work to protect and promote environmental rights and those linked to access to land are increasingly harassed and criminalized when state and economic actors perceive their activities as a hindrance to the implementation of development policies. One of the most notable cases of criminalization occurred in 2017 with the sentencing of environmental activist Heri Budiawan, also known as Budi Pego, to four years in prison for spreading communism in relation to his work to protest gold mining activities in Tumpang Pitu, Banyuwangi, East Java province. In 2020, Amnesty International recorded the arrest, attack, and intimidation of at least 202 human rights defenders in Indonesia, including environmental activists who defended their rights to land and a healthy environment.

13 Briefe verschickt  
UA 023/21 english
Microsoft Word Document, 46.7 kB
UA 023/21 deutsch
Microsoft Word Document, 33.0 kB
Mehr zum Thema


Warum ist Folter immer falsch und nutzlos? Wie engagiert sich Amnesty für die Wahrung des absoluten Folterverbots? Mehr


Grundlegende Infos über die Menschenrechte und die verschiedenen internationalen Abkommen. Mehr