The Sedulur Sikep community group received the 2018 Yap Thiam Hien Award (21/1) for their efforts to maintain natural harmony and social interaction in the Kendeng Mountains region. The Sedulur Sikep community emphasized that land and water are something that needs to be maintained so that the environment can be sustainable and can be a source of sustainable life. This is as local wisdom Sedulur Sikep who sees that nature is Mother Earth.

Yosep Adi Prasetyo, Chairman of the Press Council who was the judge of the Yap Thiam Hien Award said in his speech, Sedulur Sikep was considered an honest community group in maintaining natural harmony in social interactions in the Kendeng Mountains region. The Sedulur Sikep Principle has given birth to a long breath of resistance to the mining and cement industries in Central Java. “Exemplary Sedulur Sikep as an indigenous community is very meaningful. Indigenous people are a minority group that are often victims of persecution, repression, and tyranny, “Yosep said.

Gunretno and Nine Kartini Kendeng performed songs of kendeng in this awarding night. After the Song of Kendeng was sung, Gunretno gave a speech as well as told about the struggle of the Kendeng community, both legal efforts or through a social cultural approach in preserving the Kendeng Mountains.

For more than a decade, Sedulur Sikep has begun to speak out against PT Semen Gresik’s cement factory construction in Pati Regency. This step is based on fears that the existence of mining activities in the Kendeng Mountains region will be able to damage water sources. Residents filed a lawsuit over an environmental permit issued to PT Semen Gresik, finally PTUN Semarang won a citizen lawsuit. Semen Gresik also moved from Pati Regency to Rembang Regency.

The same effort was carried out by residents when PT Semen Gresik (now PT Semen Indonesia) pocketed an environmental permit and would operate in Rembang Regency. However, the lawsuit filed by residents to Semarang PTUN was rejected, because the lawsuit was considered to have expired because it exceeded 90 days after the environmental permit was issued.
Residents then appealed to the State Administrative High Court in Surabaya, but also led to a rejection. This continued with an appeal to the Supreme Court (MA), which also led to a rejection. After new evidence was found, residents then submitted a Review to the Supreme Court and finally the Supreme Court decided the need for a Review of the environmental permit issued by the governor of PT Semen Indonesia. However, in recent years there have been signs that the regional government has not complied with the Supreme Court Decree, the local government has not canceled the environmental permit that has been issued.

The expansion of cement mines does not only come from one company. Another company, which re-entered Pati, is PT Sahabat Mulia Sakti, a subsidiary of PT Indocement. The community then sent a lawsuit back to PTUN Semarang. Semarang State Administrative Court won a lawsuit by residents over the consideration of the environmental permit which is in conflict with the Pati District RTRW. However, PT SMS then appealed to PTUN Surabaya, and won the appeal. Losing at PTUN Surabaya, residents then submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court rejected the appeal of the Kendeng community.

At the end of 2016, the people who joined the Kendeng Mountains Concerned Community Network (JMPPK) met with President Joko Widodo, and requested the formation of the Kendeng Mountains Strategic Environmental Study (KLHS). Based on Government Regulation number 46/2016 regarding the Procedures for Conducting a Strategic Environmental Assessment, the public may request a KLHS to be held if there are suspected Policies, Plans, Programs (KRP) that have the potential to cause an impact on environmental risks.

Currently, KLHS I has been formed which includes the Kendeng Mountains specifically for the Groundwater Basin (CAT) area in Rembang Regency, and KLHS II which includes the Kendeng Mountains in Pati, Rembang, Grobogan, Blora, and several districts in East Java Province, namely Tuban Regency , Bojonegoro and Lamongan.

Until now, the Kendeng community is still waiting for the implementation of the KLHS I and KLHS II recommendations in the Kendeng Mountains region, and is awaiting the revision of the Central Java Provincial Regulation RTRW 2009-2029 which includes the KLHS I and KLHS II recommendations.

Sedulur Sikep along with Eva Bande – an environmental activist fighting for the rights of farmers in Toili, Luwuk, Central Sulawesi – was chosen from a total of 20 other candidates nominated for award winners. The award was made through a tight jury session consisting of a number of parties, ranging from the former Indonesian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Makarim Wibisono, political and human rights activist Clara Joenowo, education activist Henny Supolo, women activist and senior journalist Maria Hartiningsih, activist the issue of Imdadun Rahmat pluralism, then the last one is the activist on legal and human rights issues Haris Azhar.