Mining Victim Community Pessimistic about 2024 Election Results, Why?

  • Community victims of mining activities from a number of regions in Indonesia, such as Tumpang Pitu, Wadas, Trenggalek, Halmahera, Central Sulawesi, Dairi, East Kalimantan and East Nusa Tenggara , are pessimistic about the results of the 2024 elections.
  • They voiced their concerns by declaring "Elections in the Grip of the Oligarchy", with the hashtag #electionselections .
  • The Lapindo Mud problem in Porong, Sidoarjo, East Java , since 2006 until now is still disappointing the community.
  • The concerns of residents living in the area around the mine are not ordinary worries. Over ten years, with several elections featuring campaign promises from presidential and vice presidential candidates, none of their visions, missions, programs or policies have resolved the problems of mining victims.

Large billboards stretch across the Lapindo Mud embankment, in Porong, Sidoarjo, East Java, Tuesday [13/2/2024]. The image of three pairs of presidential and vice presidential candidates is seen with the caption "Elections in the Grip of the Oligarchy", with the hashtag #electionselections. A series of 10 caricature paintings by Toni Malakian, depicting the sequence of the Lapindo Mudflow incident from the beginning of the disaster to the current situation.

Harwati, a Lapindo mud victim from Siring Village, Porong District, admitted that she did not have much hope for the election results. The reason is, since the beginning of the disaster, many promises have disappointed residents.

"Since 2006, regulations have emerged, but for residents there has been no realization," he said.

The new leader, according to Harwati, does not bring much hope to mining victims like herself. Until now, there are still around 78 families who have not completed their compensation payments.

Another problem is the destruction of living space. Like the education sector, the school zoning model makes it difficult for children of mudflow victims to choose state schools. In the health sector, the Healthy Indonesia Card [KIS] cannot be accessed by mudflow victims who currently live in rented houses. In fact, regarding social assistance, Harwati said, it is not included in the recipient data.

"We are not poor enough, being evicted without any choice and living in rented houses."

Harwati stated that this declaration was not to reject elections, but rather to show that elections never side with oppressed people, but rather oligarchs.

"Don't let our lives be handed over to those who are irresponsible," he said.

Solidarity with mining victims

This declaration was also attended by representatives of mining-affected residents from a number of regions in Indonesia, such as Tumpang Pitu, Wadas, Trenggalek, Halmahera, Central Sulawesi, Dairi, East Kalimantan and East Nusa Tenggara.

Sukinah, a resident of Kendeng, Central Java, expressed her solidarity with all mining victims who continue to fight for the return of their living space, which was taken away by mining activities. Since 2013, Sukinah and the residents of Rembang have continued to fight against the construction of a cement factory, even though they have not yet achieved satisfactory results.

"We have met with local officials to the President, but to no avail. "Even though we won the cassation decision at the Supreme Court , in fact the cement factory is still operating," he said.

Paini, a resident of Tumpang Pitu, Banyuwangi, invites all elements of society to protect and preserve nature for the sake of future generations. He said that his struggle was with the residents of Tumpang Pitu, even by pedaling a bicycle from Banyuwangi to Surabaya and Jakarta, to demand the revocation of PT. BSI and PT. DSI.

"Even though until now there has been no response, we will not give up, we will continue to fight whatever the risk."

Harwati added that solidarity and brotherhood between residents who are victims of extractive industries needs to be strengthened, because resistance is getting tougher. Efforts to demand justice and citizens' right to living space are often faced with repression by security forces.

"We are full of repression, and we often experience reversals of facts about the mud victims who are actually blamed."

Oligarchy grip

The National Coordinator of the Mining Advocacy Network [ JATAM ], Melky Nahar, said that the concerns of residents living in the mining area are not ordinary worries. Over ten years, with several elections featuring campaign promises from presidential and vice presidential candidates, none of their visions, missions, programs or policies have resolved the problems of mining victims.

"Those who are fighting or contesting in the 2024 elections, some have affiliations or connections with various kinds of businesses, many of the winning teams also have entrepreneurial backgrounds," he explained.

Melky believes that everyone involved definitely has an interest in ensuring that the business continues to run and even expands.

"We assess that after the 2024 elections, the trend of expanding the demolition of mining materials and energy in Indonesia will be massive. "We appeal to all voters, especially residents in areas around the mining area, to prepare for this situation," he explained.

Since the 2019 election, Melky said the political situation shows a trend in policies and regulations made by the government that are more accommodating to the interests of business people, rather than the interests of the community who are harmed by the presence of mining. Like what happened in Porong, Sidoarjo, this was also experienced by residents in a number of other areas in Indonesia.

“Including expansion into nickel and downstreaming. We want to remind you that the enemies we face today will also be faced in the future, with the same enemies."

Melky also invited residents to build solidarity in open resistance to businesses that would destroy residents' living spaces, especially extractive industries. Risk mitigation after the election must be carried out, as a form of anticipating threats that arise from oligarchs who are united with the authorities.

“We are of course pessimistic about whoever is contesting today. "In fact, our biggest hope is how solidarity between citizens will continue to be strengthened, as well as mitigating potential risks after the election," he explained.

Not producing leaders who care about the environment

Separately, Adios Syafri, from Hutan Kita Institut [HaKI], Sunday [18/2/2024], in South Sumatra there are 130 Coal IUPs [Mining Business Permits], covering an area of ​​around 674,000 hectares.

A total of 28 IUPs [Lahat Regency], 16 IUPs [Muaraenim Regency], 3 IUPs [PALI Regency], while coal businesses in the districts crossed by the Rawas River are 6 IUPs [North Musi Rawas Regency], and 4 IUPs [Musi Rawas Regency]. There are eight units of IUP for Rocks and Non-Metal Minerals in South Sumatra, spread across East OKU, South OKU, Banyuasin and Muba Regencies.

Coal reserves in South Sumatra are 9.3 billion tons, the second largest in Indonesia. A quarter of the total national coal reserves, which reached 37.60 billion tons.

"However, various environmental problems are still unresolved in South Sumatra. "Starting from the continued erosion of forests, destruction of wetlands, to pollution, due to extractive economic activities, infrastructure development, and unsustainable community behavior."

Until 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture recorded around 1.2 million hectares of oil palm plantations in South Sumatra. These oil palm plantations spread from the highlands to the lowlands.

Meanwhile, peatland covering an area of ​​1,254,502.34 hectares has been converted into HTI [Industrial Plantation Forest] and oil palm plantations covering an area of ​​around 738,137.84 hectares.

The irony is that because of these various economic activities, some of the people of South Sumatra live in poverty. South Sumatra is in 10th place as the province in Indonesia with the largest percentage of poor people.

“This problem has been around for decades. There are no people's representatives who are capable or focused on solving these various problems. "And the 2024 election seems to produce the same leader again," he said.

Sutrisman Dinah, an environmental activist in South Sumatra, added that with this reality, civil society must continue to voice various knowledge and build awareness so that environmental problems remain a serious concern.

“Natural laws work in their own way, no one can manipulate them. Damage results in damage, which impacts surrounding creatures. "We must not be part of humans who like to damage and destroy natural resources," he stressed.

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