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Activists with cemented feet greet First Lady in Pekanbaru
Jakarta Post - March 29, 2017
Mufidah Jusuf Kalla, the wife of Vice President Jusuf Kalla, as well as the wives of several Cabinet member also took part in the visit.
The activists reject the construction of a cement factory in Kendeng, Rembang regency, Central Java, which they believe will harm the ecosystem especially groundwater in the area and hence threaten the livelihoods of locals, who are mostly farmers.
The rally was also an expression of solidarity with and remembrance of Patmi, 48, a Kendeng farmer, who passed away while in Jakarta to participate in a demonstration to protest the factory in front of the State Palace, where the protesters also cemented their feet into blocks.
"The government is not pro-people," one of the activists, Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Riau deputy director Boy Jerry Even Sembiring, said.
The protesters, mostly members of Walhi Riau and the Pekanbaru Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Pekanbaru), wore farmer hats and carried protest signs with pictures of Patmi.
"We appreciate Patmi's struggle. For us, she is an environmental hero," Even said, adding that the police had asked them to change the location of the rally due to the First Lady's visit.
Iriana and her entourage were scheduled to meet 1,800 early-age education (PAUD) teachers, observe a cervical cancer screening, and discuss the dangers of narcotics with 1,600 senior high school students.
Patmi's demise has sparked similar protests across the country. (bbs)