With their feet buried in cement, Kendeng Farmers appeal to President of Indonesia

With their feet buried in cement, Kendeng Farmers appeal to President of Indonesia

This is an urgent appeal to support the struggle of the Kendeng Farmers in Indonesia.

Since 13 March 2017, over 50 local Indigenous farmers have been sitting with their legs in a cement mixture in protest outside the Presidential Palace in Jakarta. The action has taken a large physical and mental toll on the protestors, and resulted in the death of one of protestors, Patmi binti Rustam, on 21 March 2017.

The farmers are calling on the President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, to halt construction of a cement factory on their lands in Kendeng area, Rembang, Central Java.  If built, the factory would cause serious damage to the environment and destory the livelihoods of hundreds of farming families. The Kendeng mountainous area has previously been protected by the Government of Indonesia as a Karst Landscape area, prohibiting any industrial and extractive activities. Any exploitation of the Karst mountain would pollute the ground water basin with dioxide sulfur and dioxide nitrogen, affecting the supply of clean water for the surrounding ecosystem.

For the Indigenous Peoples in Kendeng, this exploitation and pollution of their ancestral land not only robs them of their livelihoods, but also of their identity. Construction of the cement factory will lead to the eviction of 300-400 families from their lands, forests and paddy fields - their main source of income. Forcing thousands of farmers to take on factory labour.

The land conflict between the Kendeng farmers and the state-owned PT Semen Indonesia TBK. cement company dates back to 2010, when the company announced plans to start construction in the area. After a long legal battle, the Indonesian Supreme Court ruled in favour of the farmers in October 2016. The court revoked the environmental permit that was originally granted, finding that the company was unable to prove that its factory and mining activities would not negatively affect the environment and therefore the local community, ordering an immediate halt on further construction.

Despite this decision, the regional Governor has issued another environmental permit to the company implicitly allowing the construction to continue as planned. The Indonesian President is expected to inaugurate the factory in April 2017.

The Kendeng farmers are seeking your support in their urgent appeal to the President to cancel and revoke the Governor’s decision, and ensure compliance with the Supreme Court’s order halting construction of the factory.

Stand in solidarity with Kendeng Farmers in Indonesia by signing their letter to the President.

Photo Credit: Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria

Data Source: Sajogyo Institute (SAINS)