• Women from various regions in Central Java, came to the Office of the Governor of Central Java in Semarang, on Kartini Day, April 21, to voice the various environmental and social problems they experienced.
  • There are voices about cement mining in the karst of the Kendeng Mountains, both large companies and illegal mining. Some have complained about the presence of coal-fired power plants which have caused many problems for them and others.
  • Data from the Kendeng Mountains Caring Community Network and Mining Advocacy Network, 2017-March 2018, there are 120 new mining business licenses in Central Java, including in the Kendeng Mountains. The new licenses are in Rembang (87), Grobogan (13), Blora (11), and Pati (9).
  • Walhi Central Java, also touched on the Central Java Government’s plan, revising the RTRW and instead allocating it for mining and infrastructure development such as a new coal PLTU.

Mongabay – At that dawn, Gunarti, a woman from Sedulur Sikep, wore a black kebaya and a long scarf. He rushed to the city of Semarang, Central Java, to meet other women fighting for the environment in front of the Central Java Governor’s Office. On that day, April 21, 2019, to coincide with Kartini Day, she and three women fighting for the environment from Batang wanted to voice the protection and preservation of the earth.

Gunarti said the struggle of Kendeng farmers to protect the earth was not limited to fighting large cement factories. Small and illegal mining in the Kendeng mountains, they also opposed and refused. At present, even small mining is illegal in Kendeng, as if it is being ignored by the authorities. Gunarti was surprised that the police were helpless to arrest the miners and even drivers of illegal mining trucks. “Is this on purpose or something?” Gunarti said.

In addition, she said, the local government is selling out mining permits, threatening to kill farmers. “If you forget mother earth, remember your children and grandchildren. Remember the warriors guard the homeland when the invaders seized them. Freedom to be guarded, cared for and planted for life. In fact, they are on sale to be destroyed, “he said.

Data from the Kendeng Mountains Caring Community Network and Mining Advocacy Network, 2017-March 2018, there are 120 new mining business licenses in Central Java, including in the Kendeng Mountains. The new licenses are in Rembang (87), Grobogan (13), Blora (11), and Pati (9).

Kendeng farmers, he said, always learn and continue the struggle of Ibu Kartini. Maintaining nature and still using it, he said, by taking a sufficient amount, then bequeath it to the children and grandchildren, not spending it immediately. “If the government doesn’t think about peasants and homeland, what was independence for?”

The government, he said, made the rules but they violated it themselves. For example, a cement factory in Rembang, the Supreme Court ruling that the environmental permit was revoked, but the company continued with the technique of making new permits.

“Farmers’ land was built by factories and mined day and night. Not only farmers, officials, animals and all affected. Bald mountains, flooded rice fields. Farmers do not need mines, farming is sufficient and peaceful,” said Gunarti.

The Kartini of Central Java, cut the tumpeng from their agriculture, a form of gratitude for the gift from the mother of the earth. Photo: Tommy Apriando / Mongabay Indonesia

Another Kendeng farmer, Sukinah and other kartini from Tegaldowo Village and Timbrangan Village, Gunem District, Rembang, also performed the gumbrengan ritual. It is a ritual of thanking farmers for livestock that helps the farming process. The close inner relationship between humans and the earth and other creatures is always maintained in the Kendeng community.

“The preservation of culture and nature cannot be separated. Without a sustainable nature and without a noble culture that is continuously preserved, human civilization will be destroyed,” said Sukinah.

Two years ago, the recommendation of the expert team of Strategic Environmental Studies for the Kendeng Mountains, in the Watuputih Rembang Groundwater Basin (CAT), came out. KLHS Kendeng covers the area of two provinces, namely, East Java (Lamongan, Bojonegoro, Tuban) and Central Java (Rembang, Blora, Grobogan and Pati Regencies. KLHS, she said, was an order of President Joko Widodo, the fruit of a long struggle and needs great energy and answers to the head of state.

“Kendeng farmers have high hopes for the government to seriously pay attention to the future of the Kendeng Mountains, the future of their children and grandchildren and the future of the country. The preservation of Kendeng is absolutely necessary and protected.”

Sukinah continues to study. She tried to explore how the karts were so rich. Inside there are thousands of springs as a source of life. It is also rich in noble cultural sites, and biodiversity, so it must be preserved for the sake of balancing the ecosystem.

“Without a balanced ecosystem, an ecological disaster is in sight. The people are the first to bear the impact of all of this,” said Sukinah. According to her, water flows from thousands of springs in Kendeng, not only enjoyed by Kendeng farmers.

In the last election, she said, the people’s voice was very necessary. She said, both presidential and vice presidential candidates, as well as political parties, candidates for members of the central and regional councils should not make empty promises without giving to the people.

“When you are not in office, promises are easy to make. Once you take office, the interests of the people are mostly behind. The people always want the best for this country,” said Sukinah.

She invited all elements of the Indonesian people, especially women, to ignite the spirit of Ibu Kartini by planting and caring for Mother Earth.

Daryatun, a fisherman for Roban Timur, Batang Regency, came to the front of the Central Java Governor’s Office to ask the government to take responsibility so that the Batang steam power plant (PLTU) would not operate. Just not operating, he said, has ruined the lives of small fishermen. Their nets are often damaged because the residue from the dredging is dumped carelessly.

“Lift the net, get mud, not shrimp or fish. Our income has decreased and people’s lives are quarreling because of fighting against each other from the PLTU,” she said. The income of Daryatun and hundreds of other farmers in Roban is drastically less than before PLTU Batang.

Before the PLTU existed, every day at least was more than Rp.500,000 per day, out of three or four hours fishing. Now, fishermen have to go far to sea to get fish, the risk of major accidents and greater fuel costs.

Reflection on the fulfillment of the right to a healthy environment

Abdul Ghofar from the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) in Central Java, told Mongabay in Semarang that Kartini Day was a reflection of the fulfillment of the right to a good and healthy environment and ecological justice. Ecosystem damage, threatens the existence of life on earth, especially humankind, especially threatens women and children.

“We, from the People’s Association of Dear Mother Earth, gather to merge in the public space to connect the feelings of women who have been at the forefront of the struggle for environmental rights,” he said.

In Central Java, said Ghofar, there are still many other Kartini who have been hurt by various violations of the right to the environment, such as cases of criminalization and pollution by PT. Rum in Sukoharjo, cases of discrimination and confiscation of land rights in Surokonto Wetan, cases of plans for a cement factory in Gombong, and others.

The presidential and legislative elections are over. It is time, said Ghofar, to refocus on the environmental justice agenda, which during the campaign subsided. “Central Java’s environmental conditions will be increasingly threatened, for example, summarized in the amendment to the Central Java spatial planning regulation which will soon be passed, there are plans to add one coal power plant in Pemalang and expansion of five existing power plants in Jepara, Rembang, Cilacap, Semarang and Batang. More and more emission sources pollute our air.”

Agung Setyawan from the Semarang Legal Aid Institute said, today, the momentum is reminding the state to resolve cases of environmental destruction arising from mining, industry, which threaten the environment. For example, in Kendeng and pollution in Sukoharjo. Stop the criminalization of human rights activists must, and demand the state’s obligation to fulfill the right to a good and healthy environment. “The destructive development plan must be reviewed and canceled,” he said.

In Central Java RTRW, plans to change the function of an area of 314,000 hectares. There are 259,000 hectares for mining, 34,000 hectares for industry, and more than 2,300 hectares for toll roads and arterial roads. “That will cost about 213,000 hectares of gardens, farms and fields.” In fact, he said, Central Java was in the shadow of an ecological disaster, in the form of drought, floods, landslides, a deficit in water supply and even food.

Data compiled by LBH Semarang, more than 1,071 disasters hit Central Java throughout 2017, a drastic increase from 2016 as many as 600 times. In 2018, the Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD) Central Java noted that there were more than 2,000 landslides in Central Java.

“Don’t say that it has nothing to do with development and exploitation of destructive nature, in fact we think it is closely related,” said Agung.

Dinar Bayu from Greenpeace Indonesia said, Central Java Kartini must continue to be supported in protecting the earth. The government, instead of creating food self-sufficiency, their policies still show siding with dirty investors who torment fishermen and small farmers. “We cannot just stand by. Together with these Kartini, we must join the struggle together for a future that is healthy and livable.”

Andre Bahtiyar, representing the Student Executive Board of the Unwahas Semarang Faculty of Agriculture, said that if you look at a sociological perspective, all actions such as land evictions, criminalization of farmers, exploitation of nature and other phenomena regarding agrarian order and social welfare have had a heavy impact on society.

From the community’s economy being cut off, until the ecological chain is disrupted, and it marginalizes the people, especially farmers and fishermen. “We invite all communities to fight against earth destroyers as a symbol of the spirit of people’s resistance. Women to always fight against the destruction of the mother earth.”

Source: Mongabay