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One eviction, thousands homeless JAKARTA - More than 1,000 people became homeless in a forced eviction on Thursday at a 15-hectare plot of land in Tanjung Duren Selatan subdistrict, West Jakarta. The eviction caused massive traffic jams along the Jakarta-Tangerang toll road, Jl. S. Parman and roads surrounding Mal Taman Anggrek as "illegal" occupants blocked the access to their neighborhood by burning tires on the toll road and feeder roads.
Surrounded by thousands of officers from the West Jakarta Public Order Agency and West Jakarta Police, the eviction was marred by heated clashes. Nine people suffered minor injuries and were taken to Sumber Waras Hospital. The doctor on call at the hospital's emergency room, Liman Harijono, said all victims had head wounds. A cameraman of Metro TV private channel, Sudirman Mustari, and his camera were hit by some public order officers when he was taking a shot on officers beating a resident.
The incident ended after several policemen calmed the crowd and dismissed them. After examining his camera, Mustari said there was no vital damage to the expensive camera. After receiving confirmation from police officers that the eviction would proceed peacefully, residents began to pack their belongings including refrigerators, washing machines and television sets. Some had even left the site before the eviction started. Most of the residents were boarders who worked at the mall and surrounding offices.
The landlords of the area had reaped a healthy profit by renting rooms in their houses. One of the houses had 40 rented rooms, offered at between Rp 250,000 (EUR25.55) and Rp 700,000 per month. Darjo, one of the boarders, said the landlord had never informed them about the eviction plan. "I'd heard rumors about the eviction, but I thought it was for houses behind this one, not ours," he said. His boarding house was among the first to be demolished.
Residents claimed they had never received any official notification on the mayoralty's plan to clear the land. Raja Simbolon, who bought a 300-square-meter plot for Rp 34 million from an Ibu Neneng eight months ago, said he did not receive any eviction letter from local subdistrict offices. "I heard people talking about eviction, but without any official notice, I never knew that it was going to happen today," he said.
Some residents were completely lost as to what they should do, now that they had lost their homes. "Please, don't ask about the eviction. I don't even know where I should go," said an old man in front of his house while five excavators and two bulldozers tore down houses throughout the area.

Evicted residents given false hopes

Nurhayati Sitanggang was still in shock when an excavator demolished houses around hers in Tanjung Duren Selatan subdistrict, West Jakarta. She was sitting on her heels in front of her house, numb with disbelief that the rumors of the eviction proved true. She did not respond when her sister and sons called out for her to move out of danger's way, as an excavator slowly moved toward her.
Even when thousands of officers from the West Jakarta Police and Public Order Agency surrounded the area at 7 a.m., she was still optimistic that she would not be evicted without official notice from the administration. Besides, she had a letter declaring her right to use a 1,000-square-meter plot of land from a lawyer at Gerald Tugo Faber, who claimed to own the vast plot. The letter was signed by a lawyer named Zainal Arifin, dated April 1, 2003, and had her picture on it.
"Have the policemen gone?" she asked her son, taking back the letter from The Jakarta Post and putting it carefully inside purse. From her actions, it was apparent that she thought the letter precious, her guarantee that she could stay on the land. Apparently, such letters were worth only as much as the paper on which they were printed. Other residents also claimed to have such letters in their possession. They had bought the land for only Rp 2,000 per square meter, far cheaper than in surrounding areas where the price could reach over millions of rupiah per square meter.
Nurhayati said that she was aware that the land was disputed. She knew that the heirs of Munawar bin Salbini had won the case as ruled by the West Jakarta District Court. The court's decision on land ownership was upheld by the Jakarta High Court in March. "I realize that we'd have to leave here sooner or later," said Nurhayati. "But somebody who claimed to be the owner of this land promised us that we would be compensated fairly when that day arrived."
Earlier, she had refused an offer of Rp 3 million in compensation from Salbini, saying that it was not enough -- even for her to demolish her house herself, let alone for moving her belongings to another place. Now, however, it seems all she has left are false hopes, empty promises, no options and a worthless scrap of scribble tucked away in her purse.

Posted in General @ 03 October 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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