The Jakarta Post, Mon August 24 2015
At least 11 farmers from Wiromartan village in Mirit district, Kebumen regency, Central Java, were reportedly injured after a clash between hundreds of local residents and military personnel broke out on Saturday in the Urut Sewu beach area.
South Kebumen Farmers Association (FPPKS) coordinator Seniman said the incident had begun on Saturday afternoon when more than 100 local residents led by village chief Sunu Nugroho staged a protest after a group of military personnel built fences to encircle a piece of farmland that the local farmers claimed as their own. The local residents, Seniman claimed, had asked the soldiers to stop their activities. The soldiers, however, turned angry and aggressively kicked and punched the local residents. “Some of the injured residents are still being treated at the hospital, while others have returned home,” he said.
Local residents and the military have been in a long-standing dispute regarding the management of a stretch of land of approximately 23 kilometers in length and 500 meters in width, which spans three districts in Kebumen.
Separately, Kebumen 0709 military commander (Dandim) Lt. Col. Putra Widyawinaya insisted that the establishment of the fence was meant for the public interest. “According to the law, the area has been designated as a national defense area,” he said.
He also denied that his personnel had committed violent acts against the local farmers and instead called it “self-defense”. “There will be a reaction to any action. We asked them to step back. However, they stepped on the [fence] perimeter instead, which ended up with both sides pushing each other,” he said.