Protesters carrying banners that read "Coal kills us" protest Japan's support of coal-fired power plant in Central Java, Indonesia on April 1, outside the Japanese embassy in Jakarta. (Photo by Ryan Dagur)
Indonesian environmentalists are demanding that the Japanese government stop funding the construction of a coal-fired power plant in Central Java.
"The rights of many farmers and fishermen are violated. Therefore, we call on the Japanese government not to continue funding the project," Hadi Priyanto, who coordinated an April 1 protest outside the Japanese embassy in Jakarta, told ucanews.com.
The protestors representing different universities and nongovernmental organizations carried banners that read "Coal kills us" and wore costumes symbolizing Japanese ghosts as a way to protest the Japanese government's lack of awareness about the rights of rural Indonesians.
The US$4-billion coal-fired power plant in Batang district has a projected capacity of 2,000 megawatts and is backed by Japan. It was launched by President Joko Widodo in August but delayed because of land acquisition issues.
Many say that the plant will adversely effect the environment and the livelihood of farmers and fisherfolk.
According to Greenpeace Indonesia at least 7,000 people in five villages in the area will be affected by the power plant, which would be one of the largest coal-fired power plants in the region.
"At this moment, 10 percent of the 226 hectares for the project are not sold yet by local people. But fences are already built in the area," Priyanto said.
As a result, local people would not be able to go to their own agricultural land. Worse, land for the proposed project has been secured by soldiers, he said.
"We cannot work now. If we want to go to our agricultural land, we have to go through the fences. But behind the fences there are guards," said Karomat from Ujungnegoro village who owns a hectare of agricultural land he refuses to sell.
"We don’t know how to fight for our rights. We often asked for help," he told ucanews.com.