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Tent protest at Palace to stay until Jokowi fulfils pledge to stop cement factory

Tempo - September 4, 2017

Budiarti Utami Putri, Jakarta – Scores of farmers from the North Kendeng mountains held a protest action in front of the Presidential Palace in Central Jakarta on September 4.

They erected blue tarpaulin sheets measuring some 4x6 metres supported by bamboo poles. A number of participants, most of which were women, could be seen holding the bamboo supports so that the tents would not be torn away by the wind.

The action was held in protest against cement company PT Semen Indonesia (SI) which has failed to comply with the recommendations of stage one of a strategic environmental study (KLHS) that stated that the Watuputih ground water basin (CAT) cannot be mined.

"We the Kendeng community, have again setup tents here to call on Pak Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] to implement the KLHS findings and the MA ruling (Supreme Court)", said Ngatiban, one of the Rembang farmers speaking in the vicinity of the tents on Monday September 4.

The Kendeng community has been fighting against the cement company establishing a plant in their area since 2006 when PT Semen Gresik (now PT SI) attempted to construct a cement factory in Sukolilo village, Pati.

In Rembang, opposition to PT SI strengthened in 2014 when the state-owned company began constructing a factory there after failing to build one in Pati.

Ngatiban related how the farmers have organised various kinds of protests and attempted to go through legal channels starting with the Semarang State Administrative Court, the Surabaya High Court and the MA..

An appeal ruling at the MA in October 2016 found in favour of the Rembang community but the Central Java provincial government then issued a new permit for PT SI to continue operations.

"The MA found in favour of residents. Kendeng cannot be mined, but in reality it's being mined. Then the Pak President ordered his staff to conduct a KLHS. The results, the Kendeng mountains also can't be mined, but still they keep mining. The Kendeng community is very disappointed because of this", she said.

The Kendeng mountains KLHS involved a team from the presidential staff office, the Ministry for Forestry and the Environment, the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry and a number of experts. The results of the first stage of the study released in April stated that the Watuputih CAT area in Rembang and its surrounds was a protected area.

Because of this therefore, the management of the CAT Watuputih must apply the principle of due prudence and avoid environmental damage. Currently the KLHS team is conducting a follow up study (stage two) which is planned to be completed in October.

"So who else is the community to trust, who else can they turn to for help if not the central government? We can't expect anything from the regional government", said Sukinah, one of the Rembang farmers that also took part in the action at the Palace.

Today's action will take place between 10am and 4.30pm and will be continued tomorrow at the same time and location until there is a response from the Palace.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Tagih Janji Jokowi, Warga Kendeng Dirikan Tenda di Depan Istana.]

Source: https://nasional.tempo.co/read/news/2017/09/04/063905943/tagih-janji-jokowi-warga-kendeng-dirikan-tenda-di-depan-istana.

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