Jakarta, ulema: government's requisition of land unlawful
by Mathias Hariyadi

The country's largest Islamic organization has said that "it is not morally right" to take land from those who do not have a certificate of ownership. The document is essential in Indonesia, but has so far remained the preserve of the rich. 

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Islamic organization in Indonesia, of moderate orientation, has declared that the requisition by the State of land inhabited for decades by residents who do not possess a certificate of ownership is morally illicit. 

In the Indonesian archipelago, it is essential to have a license to prove that you own the land you live on. The practice over the years has benefited the wealthier sections of the population, leaving the poor at the mercy of the abuses of government authorities. In the past there have been several hostile acts against those who do not possess the document. 

During a national conference held last December, the Nahdlatul Ulama sided with the landless, urging the government to issue property certificates to those who still do not have them: "This type of hoarding is carried out by local authorities in relation to abandoned areas, but occupied for decades and without prior intervention by anyone," said the Islamic jurists. "Despite the absence of a permit, such land grabbing is not to be considered morally right." 

In an official statement, commission head Abdul Ghofur Maimoe explained that the ulema's decision is supported by the fact that "local residents have occupied certain areas due to land redistribution (ighta) put in place by previous governments; or many hold cultivation permits (ihya)."

Issuing legal documents to those who do not possess them is also "a symbol of social justice," Maimoe added. "Without government intervention, 'land grabbing' risks perpetuating violence against the most vulnerable population."