Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Chronology of Resitance to the Cement Factory in Rembang 15th -18th June 2014.

Sunday 15th June 2014

On Sunday people from Tegal Dowo and Timbrangan communities in Gunem sub-district that are involved in the Network of Communities Concerned for the Kendeng Mountains in Rembang (JMPPK Rembang), received information that there would be an event to place the first stone for a new Semen Indonesia (Indonesia Cement) factory near their villages. From what they heard, this would take place on Monday 16th June. After receiving this news, local people made plans to go to the planned factory site the next day.

Monday 16th June

05.30 : Groups of community members started arriving at the factory site with the idea of staging an action should the laying of the first stone actually take place. As they approached the area, they were blocked by police, who said that they couldn't go ahead with their action because they had not given the police prior notice of their plans. Despite this problem the local people nevertheless carried out their plan, and kept trying to witness the stone-laying event. The police said that information that the event would take place was not true, only that some people would pray together for the construction of the factory to be successful and go smoothly.

06.00 : As they wanted to move towards the factory site, army officers could be seen approaching. Seeing this, the documentation team started recording what was going on.

07.30 : One more military truck was added to block and disperse the action. The people responded by holding their ground on the road near the factory site.

08.30 : Other community members started to arrive and joined those who were already there. The police and army barked their orders once again, instructing people to go back to their homes because their action was not in line with valid procedures.

08.45 : The army and police forcibly dispersed the action. During this incident four members of the 'community documentation team' that were recording the dispersal were arrested by police, who gave the reason that they did not have press cards. They were even accused of being false journalists. They were held in a police car that was parked a short way from the scene. While this was going on one of the 'community documentation team' managed to escape and went on to give information about what had happened to other participants.

09.00 : During the dispersal two women passed out because of being dragged and thrown about by police. The army also kept up the intimidation, saying "people can be punished by law because the action they are taking is improcedural".

09.30-10.30 : There was no longer anyone present who could document what happened as the police tried to disperse the action.

11.00 : Several members of a "new" documentation team started to enter the area, and the atmosphere remained tense. Police and military continued to search anyone they thought might be part of a community documentation team.

14.00 : The police released the community documentation team they had arrested that morning.

14.30 : The atmosphere on the ground was still one of tension and panic . The other women looked after the two demonstrators who had still not regained consciousness.

; Having received news that their colleagues had clashed with the army and police, other villagers from Tegal Dowo and Timbrangan villages started arriving to join the action and show their solidarity. However this action was once again blocked by the police and military, who held their position, preventing the newcomers from approaching and joining the others.

18.00 : Villagers from Tegal Dowo and Timbrangan had a plan to send support consisting of food and lighting to those still taking action. However as they tried to bring this to the action site, the army and police forbade them from bringing it in. The team sending the supplies then went back to the village and left themt in the Timbrangan village head's house.

18.30 : Another team from JMPPK Rembang went back to the area and tried to negotiate with the police and military so that the supplies could be allowed inside. However the police and military responded with the sentence "we're still waiting for orders from above". As this happened the women involved in the action chanted and prayed together. The negotiations were tricky, but eventually supplies were allowed to enter and then the action participants were able to set up an awning.

20.30 : Support and solidarity from the people of Rembang started to arrive. This included medical aid.

Afterwards, the community were able to hold the area, constructing a tent so they could rest. Army and Police continued to watch over them until the next day.

Tuesday, 17th June.

07.00-12.00 : The community were holding their ground at the action location, and sticking to their demands that the plans to construct a cement factory are cancelled and the heavy machinery at the factory site is taken away. On this second day of action, police and military continued their guard around the action.

12.00-18.00 : This action has attracted extra sympathy and support from several groups and organisations from outside Rembang. Representatives or individuals from several areas such as Pati, Blora, Semarang and Yogykarta have ben spotted around the action.

20.00-23.00 : The community is still holding on at the action location despite the rainy conditions. Activities such as prayers and reciting the Koran continue.

: As they are trying to sleep, several residents are disturbed by screams coming from several police officers that are still keeping guard around the action. They are screaming "there is no cement factory here".

Wednesday 18th June.

07.00-12.00 : The community are still at the action site and are still demanding that plans for the cement factory are cancelled and the heavy machinery in the factory site is taken away. On this third action day, the army and police are still guarding close to the action site.

: The rain falls once again, but the community are still managing to hang on.

: The community read the Koran and pray together at the action.

20.00-22.00 : The head of Gunem subdistrict visits the action. His/her arrival heralds a acrimonious debate with the action participants.

23.00-24.00 : The community maintain their presence at the action site.

Source: selamatkanbumi

Twitter : #saverembang #stopsemenindonesia
Solidarity actions have taken place, or are planned in Semarang, Blora, Palembang and Yogyakarta

Repression greets Rembang people's action against cement factory.

Tensions rose at an action by the local people of Rembang to resist a quarry and cement factory today, Monday 16th June 2014. Since the morning, at least three platoons of police, a company of military, and dozens of hired thugs had kept guard over the area where it was planned to lay the first stone of PT Semen Indonesia's proposed plant in Gunem subdistrict, Rendang, Central Java. A water cannon was ready to disperse the demonstrators who were had not agreed to the project, and all access points to the factory site were blocked by state security forces.

This action was a last resort after local people's voices had been gagged for so long, their struggle always met with intimidation, police and hired thugs responding with acts of repression time and time again. In this latest action, mostly by women and farmers, clashes were also unavoidable. Military were also sent in to search family members who were hiding at the road junction leading to the factory.

Several of the mothers involved in the action were injured or fainted, and other residents were also injured. However, the military blocked anyone trying to help the victims and prohibited a waiting ambulance from entering the area.

Four community members who were documenting the events were arrested and accused of being fake journalists,and were held in a police vehicle for several hours. Although they were eventually released, their cameras were confiscated.

It appeared that several journalists from different media organisations had received instructions from the cement company, so they didn't report this action. Meanwhile, friends who wanted to show their solidarity and try to document the action were forbidden to enter the area from the morning on. Searches continued to affect all efforts to document the action, everyone who was involved was made to show a press card.

Guarded by army and police, a truck full of worshippers was seen entering the factory site, said to be representatives of religious scholars affiliated with Nahdlatul Ulama, who were being brought in to say prayers as the first stone was laid. However, Nahdlatul Ulama members strongly criticised this tactic of creating inter-community conflict, as many local Nahdlatul Ulama leaders had already clearly stated their opposition to building a cement factory, as stated in their press release last May.

Until the afternoon, the people continued to occupy the junction leading to the factory site. They also carried out collective prayers whilst tightly encircled by security forces. Their plan was to spend the night in the area and the blockade would continue until their demands were met for all physical work on the factory to stop and the machinery removed from the area.

Let's show solidarity in any way we can.

Let's go to the area and help our brothers and sisters there. Let's report the truth about the repression. Let's spread the demand to cancel all cement quarries in the Kendeng mountains. You can also send text messages to the Central Java Provincial Governor Ganjar Pranowo (+62 811990931) and the Rembang police chief Kurniawan (+62 8131101199)

Let's reaffirm the strength of popular struggles!

Ibu-ibu Berdzikir di Dalam Tenda
[photos from the site taken from twitter @omahkendeng]

LATEST UPDATE (18.51 pm West Indonesia Time, Monday 16th June). A tent belonging to the Rembang people which is still standing near to the factory site is being trashed by police and military officers. Giving the reason that the police chief has given orders, the crowd, which is dominated by mothers, have been forbidden to bring light to the area. Food supplies have also been stopped.