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Jakarta Post

Activists with cemented feet greet First Lady in Pekanbaru

  • Rizal Harahap

    The Jakarta Post

Pekanbaru   /   Wed, March 29, 2017   /   05:41 pm
Activists with cemented feet greet First Lady in Pekanbaru A group of farmers from Kendeng, Central Java stage a protest in front of the State Palace in Jakarta, on March 17. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Five environmentalists staged a demonstration by cementing their feet in front of the PON monument in Pekanbaru during the visit of First Lady Iriana Joko Widodo to the Riau provincial capital on Wednesday.

Mufidah Jusuf Kalla, the wife of Vice President Jusuf Kalla, as well as the wives of several Cabinet member also took part in the visit.

The activists reject the construction of a cement factory in Kendeng, Rembang regency, Central Java, which they believe will harm the ecosystem especially groundwater in the area and hence threaten the livelihoods of locals, who are mostly farmers.

(Read also: Jokowi’s short meeting with Kendeng farmers ends in tears)

The rally was also an expression of solidarity with and remembrance of Patmi, 48, a Kendeng farmer, who passed away while in Jakarta to participate in a demonstration to protest the factory in front of the State Palace, where the protesters also cemented their feet into blocks.

“The government is not pro-people,” one of the activists, Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) Riau deputy director Boy Jerry Even Sembiring, said.

The protesters, mostly members of Walhi Riau and the Pekanbaru Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Pekanbaru), wore farmer hats and carried protest signs with pictures of Patmi.

“We appreciate Patmi’s struggle. For us, she is an environmental hero,” Even said, adding that the police had asked them to change the location of the rally due to the First Lady’s visit.

First Lady Iriana Joko Widodo greets people during her visit to attend the IVA cervical cancer exam national movement celebration in Klaten, Central Java, on Nov. 24, 2016.(Antara/Aloysius Jarot Nugroho)

Iriana and her entourage were scheduled to meet 1,800 early-age education (PAUD) teachers, observe a cervical cancer screening, and discuss the dangers of narcotics with 1,600 senior high school students.

Patmi's demise has sparked similar protests across the country.