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Cablegate: East Java Mudflow Update: Refugees Remain in Porong Market

VZCZCXRO0183
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0026 2262107
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 142107Z AUG 07
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0039
INFO RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0037
RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0001
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0001
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0041

UNCLAS SURABAYA 000026

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS
DEPT FOR DS/IP/EAP
DOE FOR CUTLER AND GILLESPIE
COMMERCE FOR USDOC 4430

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EINV EPET ELAB PGOV ASEC ID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA MUDFLOW UPDATE: REFUGEES REMAIN IN PORONG MARKET

REF: JAKARTA 2186 (AND PREVIOUS)

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY.

1. Despite reports that the Bupati of Sidoarjo planned to evict
forcibly all residents of the refugee camp at the Porong market
on August 10, an estimated 2,500 villagers displaced by the
Lapindo mud flow remained in residence as of August 13.
According to a volunteer from TAGANA (a humanitarian
organization which maintains a booth at the market), in
anticipation of possible violence, many of the women and
children temporarily evacuated the market before the August 10
deadline, but returned over the weekend. Residents armed
themselves with pointed bamboo spears against the anticipated
eviction and held a "people's forum" of speakers protesting the
actions of the government and Lapindo in failing to compensate
sufficiently the displaced villagers. The Bupati of Sidoarjo
had denied the Consulate's request for the Ambassador to visit
the market during his August 8 visit to the mud flow because of
the potential for violence.

2. Our TAGANA contact told us that in an August 12 meeting at
the market, the Vice Regent of Sidoarjo urged the refugees to
accept the compensation package and relocate to another site so
that the market could open for business. He insisted that the
government had no plans to evict the refugees or to cut off
food, water and electricity, but was still working to identify a
suitable relocation site for the villagers. The Vice Regent
suggested that undefined "parties" were spreading rumors about a
"deadline" in an attempt to cause unrest.

3. The Sidoarjo authorities are trying to convince the remaining
refugees to accept Lapindo's proffered compensation package,
which provides for a 20% down payment and rent money, with total
compensation paid in two years. The Porong market refugees are
demanding 50% in up-front compensation, full compensation within
three months, and relocation as a village. Contacts in the
market tell us, however, that there are growing divisions within
the market residents about accepting Lapindo's offer. Refugee
advocate groups are also urging creation of a rehabilitation
program of skills job training and advice of how to invest bulk
compensation payments. An additional 500 refugees in a separate
location reportedly accepted the Lapindo compensation plan over
the weekend, but the remaining residents are holding out. The
2,500 refugees currently located in the Porong market represent
an estimated 7% of the total numbers displaced thus far by the
mud.

MCCLELLAND

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