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Kendeng farmers' 'Struggle Tent' set on fire following cement factory blockade

Jakarta Post - February 13, 2017

Suherdjoko, Semarang Dozens of people allegedly destroyed and burned the "Struggle Tent," which was erected by Mount Kendeng farmers in protest of the construction of cement factories in the Pati and Rembang regencies on Friday evening following a blockade carried out by the anti-cement camp earlier in the day.

Ngatiban, one of the farmers who reported the case to the Central Java Police in Semarang, said he knew some of the perpetrators. "I knew six of them," he said, adding that he knew them as people who supported the construction of the cement factory in Rembang regency operated by PT Semen Indonesia.

So far, it has been the first violent conflict to occur between residents who supported and residents who opposed the construction of the cement factory.

The farmers said the alleged vandalism happened at 8 p.m. on Friday, when there were eight people in the tent, six of them women. The anti-cement farmers had the tent erected since 2013, when they began their movement.

Accompanied by Ivan Wagner from the Semarang Legal Aid Institute (LBH Semarang), 11 farmers reported the case to the police. Seven of them were eyewitnesses of the destruction and four were farmer activists from the Mount Kendeng Community Network.

Ngatiban said he saw one of the perpetrators recording the action and that eight people inside the tent did not fight back as they felt afraid.

The factory in Gunem district, Rembang regency, began construction in June 2014 and cost Semen Indonesia Rp 4.9 trillion (US$367 billion).

Semen Indonesia corporate secretary Agung Wiharto told The Jakarta Post on Friday that although the construction had almost finished, the company halted the project after Governor Ganjar Pranowo issued a decree on Jan. 16 to revoke their environmental permit. "We obeyed the law. We have laid off 3,000 workers but we kept 400 people to maintain the assets," he said. (evi)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/02/13/kendeng-farmers-struggle-tent-set-on-fire-following-cement-factory-blockade.html.

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