Film screening and info night:
A Tale of Sand and Those Who Feed From It : Kulon Progo Info Night
Wednesday 28 September · 18:30 – 21:30
62 St Georges Rd, Northcote
Thousands of farmers across the communities of Kulon Progo, Central Java, Indonesia, are fighting for their land and very survival.
A joint Australian-Indonesian consortium is seeking to mine iron-ore, and with a pilot project running and the full backing of the state they look set to go ahead.
The people of Kulon Progo are calling for global solidarity in their struggle against the mining and dispossession, and for self determination. But they especially call on us in Australia to take action to stop Australian involvement in the project.
For generations oppressed by colonial occupiers and impoverished by the very land they live on, the communities of Kulon Progo have turned marginal coastline into a farming success story. Something they describe as a blueprint for communities across Indonesia.
Come find out about one of the most amazing untold stories of community agriculture, grass-roots organising, and the fight for land rights and self determination.
The mining project is being undertaken by Indo Mines Ltd (Level 1, 15 Rheola Street, West Perth, WA 6005, Australia, Tel: 61/08 9322 1825, URL: http://www.indomines.com.au/, formerly known as: AKD Ltd [formerly Australian Kimberley Diamonds NL]). Through its ‘Joint Venture Company PT Jogja Magasa Iron’, Indo owns a 70% interest in the Jogjakarta Pig Iron Project. According to one source, “An iron concentration of between 40 and 80 percent along Kulon Progo’s beaches makes it the second-largest iron reserve in the world after Mexico”, which means there’s an awful lot of potential profits at stake in the development.
On September 8, 2011, Indo announced that it had “successfully manufactured the first iron ingots” from Kulon Progo. The company also claims that “URS Australia have completed an Initial Environmental and Social Scoping Study that identified no unmanageable community or environmental issues with the development of the Project”, although local farmers–especially members of the PPLP-KP (Paguyuban Petani Lahan Pantai Kulon Progo/Coastal Farmers Association of Kulon Progo)–beg to differ.
Note that members of the local Indonesian ruling elite have significant investments in the project, and critics have been jailed for speaking out against it. In its report ‘Turning Critics into Criminals: The Human Rights Consequences of Criminal Defamation Law in Indonesia’ [PDF], Human Rights Watch notes that “Tukijo, a farmer in Kulon Progo regency of Yogyakarta, was convicted of criminal defamation in January 2010 for asking the head of his sub-district for information about the results of a land assessment”; similar proceedings have been used against other critics in an attempt to intimidate opposition to the project. In May Day of this year, Tukijo was again arrested/kidnapped by police. As I write:
Hunger Strike Continues for Third Day Over Tukijo Arrest
September 23, 2011
Six activists camped outside the Yogyakarta provincial legislature marked the third day of their hunger strike on Friday in protest against the detention of Tukijo, a farmer arrested for opposing an iron mine in Kulon Progo in Yogyakarta.
Agung, the strike coordinator, said the mine operated jointly by Australia’s Indo Mines and Jogja Magasa Mining, a local outfit, would deprive farmers in four subdistricts of vast swaths of farmland.
“The mine will reduce the area of rice paddies by 72 percent from the current 4,005 hectares,” he said. “Hundreds or even thousands of farm workers will be rendered jobless.”
He added that more than 21,000 smallholders stood to lose their land if the government allowed the mining operation to expand.
He also called for the immediate release of Tukijo, who was reportedly kidnapped by police while working in his fields in May and since sentenced to three years in prison for disorderly conduct following his vocal opposition to the mine.
“This hunger strike is a real action to support Tukijo and the Kulonprogo people in rejecting the mine,” Agung said…