A protester being forcibly removed by police. Photo: Greenpeace
The Jakarta Police forcibly dispersed dozens of environmental activists that were trying to get the attention of President Joko Widodo yesterday. Police arrested 43 of the activists and took them to the Central Jakarta Police Station.
Most of the activists were citizens of Batang, Central Java, who were protesting the construction of a mega coal-fired power plant in their region. The citizens were also accompanied by activists from environmental NGO Greenpeace.
The rally began at about 11am yesterday in front of the State Palace and continued throughout the afternoon and into the evening. Police warned the activists to end their rally at around 6pm.
However, the activists insisted that they wanted to meet with President Jokowi personally and refused to budge from their spot until they could see him. Many of the activists sprawled out on the ground to resist the police’s attempts to disperse them.
After the activists resisted several more warning to disperse, police entered the protest area in force and placed 43 of the activists into police cars to be taken to the Central Jakarta Police Station.
One Greenpeace activist, Aghnia Fasza, told Detik that her NGO was only assisting the citizens of Batang in their protest and that they were not attempting to creating anarchy. She said that they just wanted to stay so that they could meet with Jokowi.
“The citizens wanted to stay, so we followed their decision. They have come from very far away and they just wanted to meet directly with the President in order to explain their position,” Aghnia said.
In a statement released yesterday, Greenpeace said the point of the peaceful protest was to urge Jokowi to cancel plans for the coal-fired power plant and to deliver a statue of Genderuwo, a Javanese mythical figure, to the president as a symbol of the threat the proposed plant poses to Batang and its citizens.
“This coal-fired power plant will have serious consequences to a protected marine conservation area –violating Government Regulation No. 26/2008, destroying at least five villages relying on agriculture, it will pollute rich coastal fishing waters threatening the livelihoods of more than 10,000 small-scale fisherfolks. Furthermore, it will produce 10,8 million tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere,” said Arif Fiyanto, Leader of the Climate and Energy Team for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.
Construction plans have been delayed for almost four years due to persistent opposition from villagers living near the mega-plant site. Today, 74 landowners are still refusing to sell their land. Together, they own around 10% of the 226 hectares of land needed for the mega-project.
If you support the citizens on Batang and Greenpeace in their opposition to the construction of the coal power plant, you can show your support by signing this Greenpeace petition.