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'Corrupt' Indonesian district chief faces slavery rap

Official is accused of keeping drug users in rehab in cells at his home and forcing them to work on palm oil plantation

'Corrupt' Indonesian district chief faces slavery rap

One of two cells found at the home of Terbit Rencana Perangin Angin in North Sumatra province. (Photo: Diskominfo Langkat) 

Published: January 25, 2022 09:28 AM GMT

Updated: January 25, 2022 09:34 AM GMT

An Indonesian district chief facing corruption charges could also face a slavery rap after a rights group reported him to the national human rights commission following claims he kept drug users in his own private prison cells to work on his palm oil plantation.

Migrant Care said it had received complaints that Terbit Rencana Parangin Angin, a district chief in Langkat in North Sumatra province, was holding dozens of workers in two cells with iron bars at his residence.

Residents reported the workers, believed to be drug users undergoing rehabilitation, were being forced to work on the plantation for long hours and for no pay, the NGO said. It also said they were regularly beaten.  

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“There are two prison cells at the district head’s residence and they have been used to lock up at least 40 workers,” the Jakarta Globe quoted Anis Hidayat, the head of Migrant Care’s migration study center, as saying on Jan. 24.

The cells were built in the compound of the district chief’s residence and were surrounded by high walls, she said.

“Their treatment was tantamount to modern slavery,” she added. “They work for 10 hours every day and eat food twice a day and don’t have access to their families." 

After the arrest, local police and commission officials searched his house and found four people in cells

On Jan. 24, Migrant Care representatives met members of the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to lodge a complaint. The commission said it would send a team to Langkat to investigate the claims, which also allege Parangin had kept people under these conditions for about 10 years.

The allegations follow Parangin’s arrest by the Corruption Eradication Commission on Jan. 18 on suspicion of taking bribes for an infrastructure project in his district.

After the arrest, local police and commission officials searched his house and found four people in cells.

Local people reported that at least 40 males were kept in them before Parangin’s arrest, Hidayat of Migrant Care said.

At least 27 others were now being cared for by social services, a North Sumatra police spokesman said.

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