Resistance forges ahead in the face of storm of threats

After 2019, the Environmental Human Rights Defenders went through a year full of distress that was full of conflicts of economic interest in the environmental sector altogether the simultaneous general election was followed by a conflict amid two supporters of the presidential candidate between the Jokowi-Ma’ruf and Prabowo-Sandi, in general, the work of environmental human rights defenders has not changed for the better. On the other hand, the environmental human rights defenders faced extraordinary concerns after the government and the house of representatives (DPR) agreed to accelerate the regulatory process related to the Job Creation Bill (Ciptaker) and the revision of the Mineral and Coal Law (Minerba). In relation to this, news about attacks and threats against the environmental Human Rights Defenders is increasing and spreading to various regions in the country.

The efforts of the environmental human rights defenders to confine the regulatory process have triggered an enormous escalation of the civil movement. The movement includes various community groups, including workers, NGOs, students, fishermen, rural and urban communities. In ELSAM’s view, this resistance is a breath of fresh air for democracy and a struggle for the sovereignty of natural resources that needs to be supported and strengthened by all parties, although, the Environmental Human Rights Defenders and civil society are relatively vulnerable from various repression and threats from various parties.

Evidently, the weak protection of environmental human rights defenders and many loopholes for perpetrators to spread threats led to a significant increase in the number of cases throughout 2020 compared to 2019. For example, in the case of Pak Manre, a fisherman on Kodingareng Island, Lompo Makassar, balked at the sand mining activities of PT Boskalis due to the bad impact to the environment. His action has been reported to the police with the accused case as tearing paper money (allegedly bribes). This case shows that the Environmental Human Rights Defenders in the certain level and condition often experience the illogical and improper situations.

From the beginning, ELSAM had projected that the revision of the Minerba Law and the Job Creation Bill ( Ciptaker ) would become controversial regulatory projects. ELSAM assesses that both in substance and in the preparation process, it tends to be exclusive and does not heed the interests of the people, so that it has the potential to burden the environment and the people in general. Through this report, ELSAM will attempt to summarize case descriptions and views of various political economy factors that affect the vulnerability of the environmental human rights defenders’ work throughout 2020.

Considering the problems and dynamics of the political economy above, this report “The Race of Resistance in the Midst of Threats” is written. Through this report, ELSAM not only presents the latest data related to violence and threats against the Environmental Human Rights Defenders in 2020. ELSAM also completes this report with an analysis of trends and the political economy context that draws violence and threats against the environmental Human Rights Defenders. In the end, through this report, ELSAM hopes that this small contribution can provide a roadmap for protection of the environmental human rights defenders, environmental justice and sovereignty, and the fulfillment of human rights.

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