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Farmers Protest Cement Factory With Cement Shoes In Jakarta

The farmers won a court case to block construction, but the cement factory is going to be built anyway.
Foto por Arzia Tivany Wargadiredja

A row of 40 farmers sit in chairs with wooden boxes around their feet in the shadow of Indonesia's national monument, MONAS. Slowly, the boxes are filled with cement, harding around casts used to protect their legs. This is the second time they had to do this in order to protest the cement factories that are set to destroy their farmland and livelihoods.

On the same spot last August, farmers from Kendeng were greeted by President Joko Widodo. The farmers had come because the government allowed several cement factories to be built on their land, even though they won a case that should have blocked the construction.


The President suggested a temporary termination of construction, however, far in mountainous Kendeng, construction of the cement factory continued. The Central Java Provincial Government issued environmental permits for mining and construction to PT. Semen Indonesia to allow them to continue building.

Sukinah, a farmer from Rembang, decided to come to Jakarta on Monday. The escalating tensions in Kendeng brought her and other 39 farmers to Jakarta to see if there is hope in the capitol.

"We are not anti-development, we are not against factories but we want the government to understand that a lot of people need farmers, a lot of people need something to eat." Said Sukinah during protesting this afternoon. "Indonesian cement production is currently overproducing, why the hell should they insist on making a cement factory and mine. In the global market, our cement sales are weak."

Four days ago, they returned to Jakarta to voice their demands. And today, another 20 famers arrived to join the protest by cementing their feet as a bold message to draw a response from the central government.

Photos by Arzia Tivany Wargadiredja.