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. Continue Reading →