Our Group’s Letters of Concern Helped Release Suyahman, Safrudin, Akhen Pane, and Towo of Indonesia.
Suyahman, Safrudin, Akhen Pane and Towo were imprisoned solely for their legitimate trade union activities.
The four men were arrested following a strike and demonstration in September 2005 at a palm oil plantation owned by the Musim Mas Company in Riau Province. The strike followed the company’s refusal to negotiate with the union, SP Kahuntindo. Issues in dispute included the implementation of minimum standards guaranteed to workers under national legislation. During the strike, the factory gate was pushed down, injuring two company employees.
The men were arrested on the day of the demonstration on the basis of a report submitted to police by the personnel manager of the company. All four men were charged with “openly committing violence against persons or property,” but there is no indication that they were involved in any violence.
At no point during the trial did the prosecutors attempt to prove, or the judge find, that they came into contact with the factory gate. There were almost 1,000 union members at the demonstration. The singling out of these men by the company suggests that they were targeted because of their role as union leaders. The men were sentenced in February and March 2006 to prison terms between 14 and 24 months.
The Global Importune letter signing group began sending letters of concern on behalf of Suyahman, Safrudin, Akhen Pane and Sruhas Towo to officials in the government of Indonesia sometime around June 2006..
The national and international outcry helped secured the release of Suyahman, Safrudin, Akhen Pane and Sruhas Towo on October 26, 2006.
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