Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Two actions against coastal reclamation in Manado.

In recent years, much of Manado's shoreline has been turned into a commercial strip of shopping malls and entertainment venues, 'reclaiming' the coastline by building out into the sea. Apart from destroying the marine environment, where coral still grows even on the city's shore, the habitat loss also threatens the livelihoods of traditional fisherfolk, displaced by the new leisure and tourism economy. Here are reports from two recent uncompromising actions to reject the latest of these developments.

Anti-Authoritarian Fraction Occupy coastal reclamation site

Around 20 people calling themselves the Anti-Authoritarian Fraction started an occupation at 18.00 on Sunday 22nd April 2012 and continued until 08.00 the next morning when they were forced to disperse by the police. The occupation, which managed to delay construction work, took place along a stretch of Manado Boulevard next to Manado Town Square..

Around 06.00 on Monday morning, when security guards from the Manado Town Square mall discovered the blockade, made up of piles of rocks stretching for around 100 metres, they tried to discuss the matter with the occupiers. However the people on the action rejected these calls for dialogue. After their attempts at mediation were repeatedly refused, the security guards finally decided to call the police.

Around one hour later, police from the Wanea station arrived, lead by the police station chief himself. The police chief also tried to negotiate with the occupiers who continued to refuse the negotiations. When the police tried to divide the occupation by deciding for themselves which people to label as the representatives of the action, the others on the action made clear that this was a non-hierarchical occupation in which each participant was their own leader.

A heated argument which nearly resulted in clashes broke out when the police seized a banner that had been displayed on one of the piles of rocks that the occupiers had built. Angrily they retaliated and managed to reclaim their banner.

With their attempts at negotiation stumped, the police chief finally requested reinforcements to break up the action by force. About 20 minutes later, the extra police that showed up were able to force an end to the occupation.

However the solidarity between the occupiers was not over. When the police tried to arrest one of the participants, all the others chose to be arrested as well if they were not able to free their friend. The cry was heard: “in the struggle not one comrade will be left behind”

This occupation was both a form of protest against the coastal reclamation as well as an act of direct solidarity with the Sario Tumpaan fishermen who have been resisting coastal reclamation since 2009.

Sario Tumpaan Fisherfolk Sabotage Reclamation Work

Today, Thursday 26th April 2012 at around 12.00 noon dozens of Sario Tumpaan fisherfolk once again sabotaged coastal reclamation activities along Jalan Boulevard. This kind of action, which they have repeated many times already, is the fisherfolk's way of showing their disgust at the destruction of the environment and their own livelihoods in order to build a carpark which will operated by Manado Town Square.

Huge trucks filled with rock to dump in the sea were obstructed by blocking the entrance to the reclamation site. By using various objects, the entrance was sealed off and barricaded with stones and wood. The fisherfolk then gathered around the entrance to stop the trucks that wanted to pass.

A physical fight almost broke out when about nine security guards from the Manado Town Square Mall tried to break up the fisherfolk's blockade. Emotions running high, the fishermen armed themselves with stones, wood and other hard objects that they found to defend their position. The fisherfolk's provocative shouts meant that the security guards soon lost their enthusiasm to break the blockade. When the police arrived to calm the situation the fisherfolk did not heed them and maintained their aggressive attitude so that all building activities on the coast be stopped.

Because it had not been possible to find a way to mediate the conflict as the fisherfolk had refused to negotiate, the police requested that the security guards move away. The city government, represented by the Manado City Secretary, also was not able to quell the anger of the people who had only one demand: stop all building work.

Because the fisherfolk had blockaded the main entrance, the trucks filled with rock had to seek refuge in the Manado Town Square mall area and delay construction work. The fisherfolk also promised that there would be physical confrontations if work continued.

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