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Letter written by a collection of farmers to President Joko Widodo on March 14 2017. They proceeded to cement their feet into the ground in front of the Indonesian parliament buildings and are refusing to leave until the President speaks with them:

“We are the villagers of the Kendeng karst plane in Central Java, the destruction of which is set to destroy the lives of its farmers, due to the construction of an Indonesian Cement Company factory and associated mining activities. We are arriving in droves to the capital city to cement our feet into the ground in front of the parliament building. This action is but one manifestation of our long struggle, and this time we plan to cement our feet until the President comes to talk to us, the people, and stop all industrial activities in our region associated with the cement factory.

Mr President, you are making our lives hard. You are harassing our very human dignity, attacking the unity of the villagers of Kendeng and accusing us of crimes we did not commit. You have businessmen, civil servants of the highest rank, and university professors who know the law, working on your side. But they are using these laws to deceive the people, meaning they are also deceiving themselves as well.  

Mr. President, when we protested in the countryside, in the provincial capital, in the national capital, we were continuously met with threats and violence. We are indeed village people, far from any big cities. Maybe it is difficult for you to imagine how we work directly with the land, wet with the earth from morning to night. When we come to demonstrate like this in front of the parliament building, the President’s office, overrun with police officers and armed thugs, eyeing and photographing us one by one, we feel like wild animals, treated like troublemakers by the very people holding firearms. We are the people, Mr. President, with dignity for our livelihoods, proud of being farmers.

Mr President, if you and your lackeys continue to show ambivalence towards our struggle, and do not immediately stop the construction of the cement factory, it means you are failing in your duty to serve the Indonesian people and protect their livelihoods as farmers. The destruction wrought from cement mining will prohibit us from living as our ancestors have for centuries. As farming people, you are set to destroy our harvest, our food and our cultural heritage.

Since we said goodbye to our loved ones in the village, since we prayed together, and left for your office Mr. President, we have not been shy to let the tears flow. We didn’t cry because of fear, or sentimentality, but because we are dreaming of the lives of our grandchildren, who, rather than inheriting fertile land, will inherit the desire to steal money, exploit the people like reptiles. Mr. President, don’t ever forget, the people may be small, but it is us, sir, who hold the life or death of this country in our hands.”



Joko Prianto – Sukinah – Suparmi – Jumikan –  Sudiri –  Giyem – Gunritno – Darto – Sariman – Kumari – Darto


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