ROKO-ROKO, Indonesia — Residents of this village on the island of Wawonii look like they’re preparing for a battle. Men with chainsaws guard four jerry-rigged huts they’ve built to protect their land against a mining company owned by one of Indonesia’s wealthiest families.
Just four months earlier, locals were celebrating the government’s promise to expel firms like this one. In March, Lukman Abunawas, the deputy governor of Southeast Sulawesi province, faced an angry crowd outside his office in Kendari, the provincial capital, and announced that the government would revoke 15 land concessions for industrial-scale mining in Wawonii.
It was the culmination of a series of increasingly brutal protests against the mining plans that saw thousands of farmers and fishermen pour into the coastal city, riding boats across the narrow channel separating Wawonii from the Sulawesi mainland to join the demonstrations.
In the streets they were hit with tear gas and water cannons, and some were beaten by police. But their numbers kept building, driven by fears that mining would wreck the fragile ecosystem of an island smaller than New York City.
“There were people crying, we were so happy and tired,” recalls Mando Maskuri, a 23-year-old Roko-Roko native and campus activist who helped organize the rallies in Kendari. Thinking they had won, most of the protesters went home after the deputy governor made his announcement.
For the rest of this article: https://news.mongabay.com/2019/09/on-an-island-coveted-by-miners-villagers-prepare-to-raise-a-ruckus/