TSF Mining Day 4, 20 October 2023Solidarity visits to local struggles
Day 4, Friday 20 October 2023
The perfect way to finish our time in Java, and for many, in Indonesia, was to visit local communities actively resisting extractivism. Participants were divided into three groups – one visited the community resisting karst mining in the Kendeng Mountains, Rembang Regency; another visited Balong Village on the coast of Jepara Regency, where sand mining threatens the indigenous people there; and the last visit headed to the Dieng Mountains in Wonosobo Regency, the site of a geothermal project. Read about two of these visits below.
Tom from Yes to Life No to Mining shared his experience of the visit to the Kendeng Mountains:
In the Kendeng Mountains, Sukolilo village and various communities are united in fighting several cement companies, including IndoCement, a subsidiary of German multinational Heidelberg Cement. The Sukolilo community generously shared with us rice and produce from their farms. Showing us their local springs, the children introduced us to the cave system – joyfully throwing themselves into the water that runs throughout. The subterranean river systems in the limestone mountains provide all the community’s water, including farm irrigation. For the community water has both a spiritual and practical importance. One of Kendeng’s leaders said: “If Mother Earth is our house, and the trees are our structure. The water is our blood.”
With a long history of resisting Dutch colonists, the community have shown the same tenacity against mining corporations. Most notably, the women of Kendeng are famous for protesting by cementing their feet together and sitting outside government offices in Jakarta for days on end. Direct action like this is one of the many ways that communities around the world resist extractive industries.
Lynda Sullivan, also from the Yes to Life No to Mining Network, writes of the visit to Balong Village:
The village of Balong, on the coast of the Jepara Regency, has been in resistance since 2007. In 2012 they successfully fought off a nuclear power plant, and now they’re up against sand mining. The government has been ignoring them and the military are a threat. Thousands of hectares are at risk. Their livelihoods of farming and tourism are on the line.
We heard that the northern coastline of Java is a sacrifice zone – bankrupt of ecology and suffering under induced sand and soil erosion due to extractive industries. Tactics to suppress resistance follow a very familiar story – the false promise of well-paid jobs, attempts to discredit the community with claims of illegal logging, attempts to divide the community and so divide their voice.
But they stand united, empowered by their previous win over the power plant, impassioned with the love of their land. After we hear their story TSF participants rise one by one to express their solidarity, and to share stories from our own homes. From South Africa, India, Ireland, Ecuador and elsewhere in Indonesia, we all stood, and stand, with the people of Balong.