Water and Communities
Fri, July 13 2012 15:30
People Who Taking Water Distribution into Their Own Hands

Java, Indonesia, a community of small-scale rice farmers has taken local water matters into their own hands. Dissatisfied with the quality and quantity of water being delivered to their houses by their local water authority, they bought a local spring and now manage it themselves. “We used to travel one kilometer to collect water in the dry season,” say the women of the community. “We were paying water bills but we didn’t have enough water, and it was often dirty.”

Hearing that a local piece of land with a spring was for sale, and knowing that a foreign bottled water company wanted to buy it, the community developed a plan based on traditional ways of managing water. “We asked one of the wealthier families to buy the land,” says Haris Sri Harjanto, an organic rice farmer. “We bought shares from them and now we all own the spring.”

Since purchasing the land and its spring, community members have built pipes and installed water meters at each home. They proudly display their new pipes, taps and meters. They’re also proud of their first water bills, finding the price of regular clean water to be reasonable. Surrounded by emerald green rice paddies and distant blue mountains, the community has left an open access well beside their covered spring so that other local residents can have free access to the abundant water. There are drawbacks. They still pay taxes for the government-managed water system from which they do not benefit. As well, those villagers who cannot afford to join the group depend on its generosity for access to water. Yet it is one way that small communities are coming together to manage local water systems and keep water at the service of the local community and small-scale farmers. KRuHA supports this community in its efforts to manage its own water distribution effectively. Bottled water companies continue to seek ownership of nearby community springs. KRuHA is helping these communities maintain local control over their water sources.

Wed, July 11 2012 15:42
Local People Against Destructive Industries
The Mountain, the People and the Cement Factory

Siti Rakhma Mary Herwati, Tjahjono Rahardjo, Erwin Dwi Kristianto [1]

1. Introduction

Conflicts between communities living in the foothills of the Kendeng mountain range, Kecamatan [2] Sukolilo, Pati, with PT. Semen Gresik and the government started in early 2008. The government's desire to boost investment and make Central Java’s into an investment-friendly province has made it support the construction of major projects, such as PT Semen Gresik’s proposed cement factory in Sukolilo. Unfortunately, in its enthusiasm the government often forgets to take into account the environmental impacts of these projects.

Most of the people who will be affected by the cement plant are farmers. They fear that the cement plant will cost them their livelihoods and water resources. They resist it because they want to defend their rights: the right to life as farmers, the right to own plots of land, the right to maintain their tradition, and the right to access natural resources and enjoy a pleasant and healthy environment. Those rights - as part of human rights- should be given the highest priority by committed countries who are signatories of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In fact Indonesia has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) through Law Number 11/ 2005 and Law No. 12 / 2005 respectively, which obliges the state to take steps to meet them. But apparently the Indonesian state has not fully implemented those laws.

During 2009, the Semarang Legal Aid Institution has recorded many cases in which have the potentials of violations of the economic, social, and cultural rights as well as the political and civil rights of citizens. These cases are related to land expropriation, natural resources control, and livelihoods in Central Java. On the north coast of Java according to the Semarang Legal Aid Institution there were 217 cases of growing industrialisation which have marginalised and limited the people’s possibility to make a living[3]. The case of the cement factory is just one of them.
In this case the cultural rights of the affected community [4] are one of the rights that are being in the greatest danger of being violated. This is of the outmost concern as these cultural values are not in anyway in contradiction, but in fact reinforce the application and relevance, of universal human rights. The cultural values that are threatened are, amongst other, those that strive to protect the environment, promote gender equality, and reject the use of violence. On the other hand, acts violence towards those who are against the plan has created fear, which is clearly a violation of their human rights. Even worse, it has triggered conflicts amongst the local people, which have had a disrupting effect on their social and economic life.

2. The Kendeng Mountain Range

The Kendeng limestone mountain range extends from Kabupaten [5] Grobogan, Central Java to Kabupaten Bojonegoro in East Java. Part of the Kendeng mountain range located within Kabupaten Pati stretches approximately 35 kilometres from Kecamatan Pucangwangi to Kecamatan Sukolilo. Here, many springs, caves and underground rivers, as well as a rich variety of plants and animals, are found.

Kendeng is home to many kinds of vegetations: mahogany (Swietenia macrophylia), cashew (Anacardium occidentale), kapok (Ceiba pentandra), silk cotton (Salmalia malabarica), and sterculia (Sterculia foetida). Other plants include, sugar palm (Arenga pinnata), kluwak (Pangium edule), mango (Mangifera indica), banana, teak (Tectona grandis), coconut (Cocos nucifera), sengon (Albizia falcataria), melinjo (Gnetum gnemon), banyan (Ficus benjamina), pulai (Alstonia spp), lutungan, suren, guava, wuni, eheng, glodogan, mindi and mimba.

The vegetation diversity of North Kendeng makes it a perfect habitat for many bird species. Of the 9,200 bird species in the world, 1,500 species are found in Indonesia, and 45 species are found in the hilly Karst region of Sukolilo, South Pati. Besides being home of endemic bird such as the Javanese sparrow (Padda oryzivora), it is also a sanctuary for bats producing phosphate fertiliser and swiftest producing edible birds nest. These animals play important roles in the environmental balance of the Karst region, together with other environmental indicators such as kingfishers, sparrows, spotted doves and the turtledoves that play a role in spreading ficus seeds. Meanwhile, birds of prey have a role in controlling rodents and insects (Wacana, 2008).

In Kabupaten Grobogan, particularly in the Kecamatan of Dokoro and Tawangharjo, as well as in Pati, particularly in Kecamatan Sukolilo, all of this can clearly be seen. In Tawangharjo and Dokoro, the caves are located in hilly areas with springs in the lower plain. In Sukolilo the caves and springs are evenly distributed in the hills as well as in the lower plains. This shows that the North Kendeng limestone or Karst range is a water-storage area and serves as a water catchment and recharging area, supplying water for the region around it. There are 33 perennial springs and 49 caves in the Dokoro and Tawangharjo, while in Sukolilo there are 79 perennial springs and 24 caves, many of which also have underground river systems. These springs are the sources of potable water for more than 8000 households.

Farming communities in the mountainous region also depend on these springs. As the government is not able to provide irrigation water, the flow of water from these mountains become the only water sources for agriculture. In Kecamatan Sukolilo 4000 hectares of rice fields depend totally on just one spring, Sumber Lawang spring, and the largest spring in Sukolilo. In total more than 25,000 hectares of agricultural land 165,000 people in South Pati depend on the Kendeng springs. It is also believed that the Kendeng mountain range acts as a barrier against the threat of strong winds which often cause disasters in Pati (Paripurno, 2008).

According to studies conducted by the Disaster Management Centre - UPN ”Veteran” Yogyakarta and Acintyacunyata Speleological Club (ASC) Yogyakarta the Kendeng mountain range shows characteristics of a first class Karst region. This means that according to the regulations of the Ministry Energy and Mineral Resources the conservation of the Kendeng mountain range should be given the foremost priority.

3. The Wong Sikep

In the hills of Blora and nearby Cepu in Central Java the best teakwood in the world are grown. From pre-colonial days this area has supplied timber for the ship making industries of Tegal, Juana, Jepara, Rembang, Lasem and Tuban. Teak became an important commercial commodity with the arrival of the United Dutch East Indian Company (VOC) in 15th century. The VOC had been able to acquire vast tracks of forest land from local rulers. In these areas peasants were required to render compulsory forest labour services in exchange for being exempted from head taxes and labour services or corvée exacted by the local rulers (Adi,, 2004).

In the late 18th century the Dutch colonial government took direct control of Indonesia following VOC’s bankruptcy [6]. By then, the teak forests of Java had already suffered serious degradation due to overexploitation. Therefore, one of the tasks of the newly appointed governor general, Herman Willem Daendels, was to rehabilitate the forests. Daendels established the Dienst van het Boschwezen (Forestry Service) in 1808. The Service made it illegal for villagers to enter the forests to fell timber; they were only allowed to collect deadwood and non-timber forest products, thus criminalising customary uses of the forest (Nurjaya, 2005).

It was not a coincidence that the emergence of Saminism happened at about the same time the Dutch colonial government ruled in 1870 that it “owned all land that had no proof of legal ownership”. All forests, thereafter, became state property and a forestry police force was established in 1880 to enforce the rule. This was in line with the adoption of German forestry technology, which classified, mapped and bounded state forest reserves. This, in effect, forced many people out from areas which have been their sources of livelihood (Adi,, 2004).

Saminisms was a teaching of esoteric knowledge which was first preached by Samin Surosentiko[7] at the turn of the 20th century in Blora and then spread in the mountainous areas of middle and east Java in the 1910s. The Saminist heartland par excellence is the teak forest region of Java. In Blora in 1920 about 40 % of the land was in government teak forest reserves, the highest proportion in Java (Benda and Castle, 1960). The Samin movement was a reaction against increasing colonial government intervention in the lives of people living around the forests. This intervention was mainly in the form of taxation and obligation to perform corvée labour (Shiraishi, 1990). Unlike other contemporary movements, however, Saminism was a passive, non-violent resistance, often resorting to unusual actions and convoluted language [8].

Samin Surosentiko (1859 – 1914), was a Gogol [9] who lived in Randublatung, in the Kabupaten of Blora, Central Java. Though clearly an illiterate peasant, a number of sources have given Samin an aristocratic lineage (as is often the case with many figures in Javanese history), maintaining that he is a descendant of a certain Prince Kusumaningayu of Sumoroto, Kediri. Samin started teaching in the 1880s. Those who followed his teaching called themselves Wong Sikep. [10] Samin and eight of his followers were banished by the colonial government to Padang, West Sumatera in 1907 on the charge of subversion; Samin died in there in 1914.

The Samin movement began on 7 February 1889 when for the first time Samin Surosentiko spoke in front of his followers. At night, under torch light, Samin Surosentiko’s followers gathered in a field at Bapangan village, Blora. A year after his speech at Bapangan, in 1889 Samin founded a “school” in the village of Paguron, Klopoduwur, Blora. Many people from surrounding villages came to learn from him. At that time the Dutch East Indies government was not yet interested in the teaching of Samin, as it still regarded it as a mystical or religious teachings and not a threat to the government. Only in 1905 did the movement start to attract the attention of the colonial authorities when the Wong Sikep began to withdraw from village society and declare that the payment of taxes was not obligatory but simply voluntary contributions. (King, 1973).

Samin’s teaching is a loose set of doctrines and religious ethics which focuses on the one hand on mystics, sexual power, passive resistance, and the primacy of the nuclear family, while on the other hand refusing the cash economy, non-Samin rural structures, and all forms of outside intervention. Personally, according to Samin, a Wong Sikep should:

1. Not practice polygamy

2. Not steal, cheat, covet what other people have, trade, have illicit sex, or lie.

3. Work hard, planting and harvesting for his/her own use,

4. Not seek a livelihood by begging from other people but has to use or eat what he/she produces with his/her own sweat.

5. Keep his/her promise.

The Wong Sikep sees the bond of marriage as very important, and gives women a prominent role in community life. The Wong Sikep lives very close to the earth and therefore is excellent land cultivators. Their fields are usually the best tended in the village. They believe that they should never be idle [11]; if insulted they should remain silent; should not be involved in trading and should not ask money or food from anyone, but if anyone asks money or food from them they should give it (King, 1977). The Wong Sikep do not attend school [12], the men cover their heads with batik headdresses and wear knee length trousers; the women wear long-sleeve blouses and batik skirts. Both men and women wear clothes made from black coloured material.

At the height of the Saminist movement in the mid-1910s, the movement had spread from Blora to Bojonegoro, Grobogan, Pati, Rembang, Kudus, Madiun, and Ngawi (Shiraishi, 1990). According to official reports, however, the movement never exceeded 3,000 in number (King, 1973). Yet, unlike the fate of similar peasant movements in Java, many of which did not survive the imprisonment or death of their leaders, after Samin’s banishment and death his teaching endured, albeit in many different variation. His disciples, including his son-in-law Surohidin, spread their own brand of Saminism, amongst them the so called “Samats” of Pati. [13]

The Saminist movement is perhaps one of the longest-living social phenomena in modern Javanese history. Saminism, in fact, has survived into the era of Indonesian independence. After independence the Sedulur Sikep remained critical towards the new Indonesian state and civil servants serving the Indonesian Republic appear to be almost as perplexed by them as were their Dutch predecessors (Benda and Castle, 1969). The Sikep community refuse to use Bahasa Indonesia, the Indonesian national language and keep using Ngoko, the egalitarian low-Javanese language. They refuse to adhere to one of the five officially recognised religions (Islam, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Hinduism, and Buddhism) [14], still do not send their children to government sanctioned schools and instead maintain their own education system. When the government introduced ‘modern’ farming methods using inorganic fertilizers and pesticides the Wong Sikep carried on with their traditional organic farming methods.

In the last few years the Sedulur Sikep community in Sukolilo, Pati, became prominent in the cement factory controversy. Sukolilo is one of the Kecamatan in Pati. It is located in the south part of the kabupaten Pati. It is bordered by Kabupaten Purwodadi. Compared with other Kecamatan, its people are more "abangan" (syncretism in their religious practice) – as far as the category proposed by Geertz (1960) could still be used for this purpose. In Pati it is not difficult to see the difference between Wong kidul (south people) and Wong lor (north people) who are more orthodox in their practice of Islam.

The Sedulur Sikep community of Sukolilo are not the only people who are against the plan to build a cement factory. Many farmers, activists, intellectuals, academics, politicians and even government officials (either as groups as well as individually), have expressed their opposition. They are united in a front called the Jaringan Masyarakat Peduli Pegunungan Kendeng (JMPPK, Community Network for the Care of Kendeng Mountains). In this front, however, the Sedulur Sikep has come in to the forefront as they are fighting for something very precious: the very survival of their way of life. In fact Gunritno, a Sedulur Sikep of the younger generation, is the chairperson of JMPPK. [15] According to anthropologist Amrih Widodo the leadership of the Sikep community in Sukolilo is not something new. For years they have worked together with other, non-Sikep farmers to find out ways on how to solve their common problems.

4. The Cement Factory

In early 2008 it was announced that a new cement factory was going to be built in Kecamatan Sukolilo, Kabupaten Pati, Central Java, Indonesia [16]. This new cement plant is one of the three new plants planned to be built by PT Semen Gresik. PT Semen Gresik is the largest cement producer in Indonesia. The other factories are to be located in West Sumatra and South Sulawesi respectively.

The new factory in Sukolilo will produce 2.5 million tons cement annually or 8.000 tons daily. Each day it will need inputs of 11,700 tons of limestone, 2600 tons of clay, 320 tons of gypsum, and 120 tons of sand. The raw material will be obtained by exploiting 1,400 hectares of what is now paddy fields and farm land in its vicinity.

This plan was met with opposing reactions. Those who support it (including the provincial and local government) say that this project will improve the welfare of the people in the area by bringing in much needed investment. They estimated that during construction about 2000 job openings will be created; after its operation 1000 people will be employed. The need for food stalls, boarding houses and other small businesses will bring in more money and create more job opportunities. The new factory will also contribute significantly to the government’s revenues.

Those who oppose it - mostly united in the Jaringan Masyarakat Peduli Pegunungan Kendeng (JMPPK, Community Network for the Care of Kendeng Mountains [17]) - point out that the mining of limestone at the Kendeng Mountains for cement production will dry up at least half of the springs which are vital for the people’s survival. They also argue that the job opportunities open for the local people will only be menial, low-paying and low-security ones; and even these jobs will only be open to people having certain qualifications in terms of education, training, gender, and age. Meanwhile, the exploitation of forest and agricultural land will cost about 650,000 people their sources of livelihood. Instead of bringing welfare this will lead to more poverty, with the resultant social problems.

The opponents also predict that the proposed cement factory will have a disastrous effect on the ecology of the region. It will upset the delicate balance of Karst region, destroy archaeological sites, create air and noise pollution and threat the agricultural and domestic water supply.

Those who are for the cement factories tend to only take economic indicators such as employment, investments, and revenue into consideration. Those who are against, however, take a broader perspective as they also look at indicators related to quality of life and the social and cultural rights of the affected people, including communities like the Sedulur Sikep, to lead their chosen way of life. The differences in interests and viewpoints have no doubt caused frictions amongst the parties involved. Unfortunately, in some instances this has led to some serious human rights violations.

5. The Conflict

Opening the way for investment
From the very beginning, the government of Kabupaten Pati did not give out much information about the planned cement factory, so few people actually knew about the plan. The village officials only invited people who agreed to the construction of cement factories during the dissemination process. Both the provincial and local governments were supportive of the cement factory. The IDR 3 trillion investments is something that they think will bring welfare to the region. A set of rules were issued to pave the way for the plan, though many of them contradicted higher level regulations. One of them is the Decree of the Head of the Joint Permit Office No.540/052/2008 dated 5 November 2008 which essentially gave permission to PT Semen Gresik to conduct explorations without prior Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

JMPPK, led by its chairman, Gunritno, built up support to in an effort to stop the construction of the cement factory. They organised peaceful protests, made statements in the media, visited locations around the PT Semen Gresik’s plant in Tuban, East Java, put up banners, posters and stickers, made movies and played these movies for various audiences, seek out support from other groups, and extended their network into areas such as kabupaten Grobogan, kabupaten Blora, and kabupaten Kudus. At the community level, the Sedulur Sikep elder Sutarno (better known as Mbah Tarno “Grandfather Tarno”), incessantly reminded the local community as well as the wider public about the importance of preserving the Kendeng mountain range[18]. JMPPK also made a calculation comparing the costs and benefits in the cases if the cement plant is built and not built. They, among other things, calculated the present water need, the presence of springs, and the extent of rice fields and farmers dependant on the water of Kendeng (Husaini, 2008).

The network built up by JMPPK grew. In addition to farmers' networks, they also were able to build a network of academics and non-governmental organizations. Those who contributed to the movement are YLBHI-LBH Semarang, Society for Health, Education, Environment and Peace (SHEEP) Foundation Central Java, Legal Service Institute YAPHI, Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI), the Bhineka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) National Alliance, People’s Coalition for the Right to Water (KRUHA), Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), Commission on Missing Persons and Anti-Violence (KONTRAS), Indigenous Peoples' Alliance (AMAN), Indonesian Centre for Environmental Law (ICEL), Desantara, Association for Community and Ecological Based Legal Reform (Huma), Jakarta Legal Aid Institution, Society Legal Aid Institution Society, National Association of Legal Aid and Human Rights (PBHI), Front for Indonesian Youth Struggle (FPPI), LSAD, Hamas, Spores, and Madya. In addition academicians from the Centre for Disaster Management Studies UPN Veteran Yogyakarta, Acintyacunyata Speleological Club (ASC), Yogyakarta and Soegijapranata University Semarang also joined the effort.

The network of those who reject the cement factory have developed resistance various strategies, such as organizing various protest actions in Pati, Semarang, and Jakarta, holding discussions and seminars on the Sedulur Sikep and the cement factory plan, setting up a ‘command post,’ pulling out concrete stakes marking the site of the plant, and instead putting up signposts with the words "land for our children and grandchildren." written on them.

On the other hand, the growth of the network of those against the cement factory was met by a growing network of organizations and individuals of those who support it. They are actively campaigning and lobbying; they also have intimidated those who reject the factory.

At the policy level, JMPPK tried to influence local and national level politicians. Hearings were conducted with the National Commission on Human Rights, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, and the Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P) faction in parliament. JMPPK also met with the Governor of Central Java, Bibit Waluyo on January 10, 2009. In this meeting the Governor stated there would be no activity before a joint research team was formed and the composition of the Environmental Impact Assessment team was changed (Kristianto, 2010).

PT Semen Gresik defied the order. On January 22, 2009, a PT Semen Gresik survey team came to the village of Kedumulyo to do survey. The village at that time was already in a heated situation. There were suspicions that the head of the village was involved in the sale of land to PT Semen Gresik. A day before, a citizen group had come to village head’s office demanding that he explain about the allegations of shady land deal. But the village head refused to meet the citizens. The arrival of the survey team of PT Semen Gresik to the village has made the situation worse. Actually, the PT Semen Gresik team had been warned by residents not to enter Kedumulyo Village. But they did not heed the advice.

In a road in the midst of rice fields at Kedumulyo, villagers held four cars of PT Semen Gresik and a police car of the Pati district police intelligence department. The people held the cars along with their 13 passengers. The people had only one demand: to meet the village head of Kedumulyo.

Unfortunately, the village head still did not appear. The people refused to let the cars and their passenger go. The passengers are allowed to eat and drink, and go out of the car. But they refused and remained in the car. From 10:30 until 18:00 o'clock the people detained the cars and made speeches expressing their rejection of the cement factory. The camat and Sukolilo police chief tried to talk with the residents, but failed to make them change their minds. At 18:30 pm police forcibly broke the human barricades surrounding the cars, and the people were arrested. Hundreds of police forced the people into their houses. They kicked, hit, stepped on, and threw both men and women who refused to go. Several people were arrested. In the chaos, an unknown person threw stones at the cars of PT Semen Gresik, which damaged two cars. Eventually, the police arrested nine residents. During the process of arrest and examination at a police station, they were tortured and denied their rights as defendants.

The Semarang Legal Aid Institution, in cooperation with YAPHI in Solo, ATMA Legal Aid Institution in Pati, and the MAS Legal Aid Office in the Pati defended the nine people at court. The legal counsellors also filed a pre-trial over the arrest of nine people as they did not meet the requirements set forth in the Book of Law Code on Criminal Procedures. However, pre-trial request was refused by the judge, arguing that the arrest and detention has complied with formal requirements. As for the violence that the defendants endure, the judge considered it as a human rights issue, which is outside the pre-judicial authority.

The nine residents were finally put on trial. They were indicted on charges of incitement (article 160 Criminal Code), together with violence (article 170, Criminal Code), and unpleasant acts (article 335, Criminal Code). At the trial, none of these allegations were actually proven. They did not instigate or commit violence; they also did not make unpleasant deeds. But the judges argued differently. They sentenced the defendant to serve in prison for five months.

Other legal measures
Efforts to stop the construction of cement plants are also pursued through the law court. On January 23, 2009, the Semarang Legal Aid Institute in cooperation with YAPHI Legal Service Institute and the Indonesian Forum for Environment (WALHI) filed a claim through the State Administration Court of Semarang. What was contested was the Decree of the Head Office of Integrated Licensing No.540/052/2008 dated 5 November 2008 which granted an Exploration License to PT Semen Gresik in Pati. The decision was contested because it was not preceded by an Environmental Impact Assessment as required by environmental regulations. After a lengthy proceeding, the judges granted the plaintiff request. In essence, the judges agreed with the plaintiff that the Exploration Permit should be based on an Environmental Impact Assessment. They decided to cancel the Decree of the Head Office of Integrated Licensing of Pati No. 540/052/2008, dated 5 November 2008 and required the defendants to revoke the Decree.

This verdict could have resulted in the cancellation of the construction of the cement factory because the Environmental Impact Assessment that was made after the issuance of the Exploration Permit and after the issuance of other permits as well. But the local Government of Pati and PT Semen Gresik decided to appeal

Unfortunately, the decision of the State Administration High Court in Surabaya was disappointing for the Plaintiff. The judges decided to cancel the decision of the State Administration Court of Semarang. In the deliberations, they expressed that the issuance of the Exploration Permit does not require an Environmental Impact Assessment. As the plaintiff could not accept this decision, the plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court. Until now, the Supreme Court has not made any decisions

The government strikes back
The government apparently did not remain silent and could not accept the rejection of cement plant construction. It began to play at the policy level by preparing the Regional Spatial Plan of Central Java in 2010. In the Plan, Kecamatan Sukolilo is designated as an area where mining is allowed. As usual, the government did not conduct a fair and open dissemination of the proposed regulation. The local community, especially the Sedulur Sikep in Pati, have come to the government and expressed their objections to this plan. But the government did not budge. The Ministry of the Interior has approved the draft Regulation which has become Law No. 6/ 2010. The Sedulur Sikep, some elements of universities and non-governmental organizations and are now formulating litigation steps and actions to cancel the Law.

6. Conclusion

Development does not always mean progress and prosperity. The government's plan to bring in more and more investments into the country, could mean disaster for whole communities. In the case of planned cement plant in Kabupaten Pati, the local people are quite of aware of this. The Sedulur Sikep, as part of the community who will be affected by the construction of the cement factory, is trying to hold on to their values and principles in preserving the environment for the sustainable livelihoods of future generations. They have adopted Samin Surosentiko resistance strategy, and adopted them to their present fight against the plan to build a cement factory on their land. The Sedulur Sikep organized resistance has received the support of many elements of society and academia. However, they do not have the support of the government, who up to this day is still trying to impose the plan to build a cement factory there.

Some people have been deprived of their liberty and imprisoned for rejecting the cement factory. Their rights have been violated. The Sedulur Sikep, as a community of people who are known to be honest and speak openly, now have to deal with the law court, which puts them in a very difficult position. As for the court, it has become one of the parties which determine whether the construction of cement factories can go on or not. Meanwhile, the government continues to seek ways to impose their will to build a cement plant using its policy making power. However, the community, especially Sedulur Sikep, never stop fighting. They realise that if the cement factory is built, then their economic rights, social, and cultural communities will also be violated.


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[1] Paper presented to the SEAHRN First Conference on Human Rights in Southeast Asia, Bangkok 14-15 October 2010.

[2] A Kecamatan is an administrative region in Indonesia below the level of kabupaten or city (Kota). A Kecamatan consists of the several villages or sub-districts. The head of a Kecamatan is called a camat who is an appointee of the bupati (head of the kabupaten) or walikota (mayor)

[3] This in a significant increase from 2008, when there were 172 similar cases (Herwati, 2010).

[4] Amongst them are the Sikep community, of which a more detail description is given in the following part of this paper.

[5] A kabupaten is an administrative region in Indonesia one level below a province. It is headed by a bupati who is popularly elected every five years.

[6] At that moment the Netherlands was under the rule of Napoleonic France.

[7] There are many variants on how the name is written, thus: Samin Soerontiko, Soerontiko Samin, Samin Soerontiko, etc, are referring to the same person.

[8] For example, in the famous Dangir Case in November 26, 1928, when the patih (vice regent) of Pati asked Dangir (a follower of Samin Soerontiko) in low Javanese, "Sapa aranmu (What is your name)?" Dangir would answer "Kula Wong, jeneng lanang, pengaranè Dangir . . . (I am a human being, of the male type, called Dangir…)”. (Shiraishi, 1990). Even today, when a Wong Sikep is asked his/her age the person will answer “siji kanggo saklawasè” (one that will last forever).

[9] Gogol is the peasant household head who had his own house and yard plot, had a share in the village communal land, and was hence obliged to pay taxes and perform corvée labor obligations. (Shiraishi, 1990)

[10] Sikep and kuli kenceng signify the same status as Gogol. (Shiraishi, 1990)

[11] For instance, they would avoid ngobrol (idle chat) but would welcome a rembugan (discussion).

[12] This has given rise to the view that the Sikep people were generally illiterate. This might have been true in the past, but nowadays their children are taught to read and write, though they still refuse to send them to formal (government run) schools.

[13] In fact, the colonial government often called those involved in the 1928 resistance in Pati (including Dangir) as “Samats’ instead of “Samin” (Shiraishi, 1990).

[14] This made it difficult, if not impossible, for a Wong Sikep to have a Kartu Tanda Penduduk (KTP, the all important “domicile card” that all Indonesians above the age of seventeen have to hold. Not having a KTP means that a person is not officially registered as a citizen. According to Yayasan Humana (2001) “A KTP is the sole defining element for both inclusion and identity”. Now, however, the filling in of the column on religion is optional.

[15]According to Gunritno (quoted in Kristianto 2009): “…Sedulur Sikep adalah suatu komunitas yang memilih hidup sebagai petani. Hal ini memunculkan sebuah budaya yang sulit dijumpai di daerah lain di Indonesia. Rencana Semen Gresik mengancam kebudayaan ini sehingga menjadi titik awal persoalan. Persoalan utama bukan terletak pada jual beli tanah tapi lebih pada masalah dampak lingkungan dan perlindungan budaya yang dampaknya bukan hanya pada Sedulur Sikep tapi masyarakat secara luas…” (“... Sedulur Sikep is a community that chooses to live as farmers. This led to a culture that is rarely found in other parts of Indonesia. Semen Gresik’s plans, which will threaten this culture, started the problem. The main problem is not about the sale and purchase of land but rather on issues of environmental impact and of cultural protection that will not only affect the Sedulur Sikep but people in general ... ")

[16] As early as 2005, before the plans were announced, farmers in Sukolilo were already suspicious of the unusual activities of land brokers who claimed to be acting on behalf of an unnamed bio-energy company needing land to plant castor beans for oil production. However, the farmers noticed that after the brokers had bought two hundred hectares of land they did not plant a single seedling and gave no further explanations about their project (Crosby, 2008).

[17] One of the members of this forum is the Semarang Legal Aid Institute (Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Semarang).

[18] On 23 June 2009, Mbah Tarno who had been an important figure in the struggle against the cement factory, passed away peacefully at the age of 100 years. Hundreds of activists attended his funeral and vowed to keep fighting the development of the cement factory (Crosby, 2009)
Posted by Tjahjono Rahardjo at 22:27

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