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Cablegate: East Java: Mudflow Update: Demonstrators Block Main Road;

VZCZCXRO3417
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0040 0850733
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 250733Z MAR 08
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0185
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0172
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0097
RUEHCAA/GEOLOGICAL SURVEY DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHINGTON DC
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0095
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0040
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0190

UNCLAS SURABAYA 000040

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, INR/EAP, EB/ESC/IES
DOE FOR CUTLER/PI-32 AND NAKANO/PI-42
COMMERCE FOR USDOC 4430

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EPET ENRG PGOV ASEC EAID ID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA: MUDFLOW UPDATE: DEMONSTRATORS BLOCK MAIN ROAD;
DEMAND COMPENSATION; POLITICAL STAKES INCREASE

REF: A. SURABAYA 29 (FLAMES AND GEYSERS)

B. SURABAYA 27 AND PREVIOUS

This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: On March 24, residents of nine villages whose
homes are being destroyed by the unabated mudflow took their
demands for compensation to the street -- blocking the primary
transportation corridor linking Surabaya with the rest of East
Java for over eight hours. The blockade was lifted only after
the Governor of East Java promised to meet with the
demonstrators on March 25. Residents are demanding their
villages be included in compensation plans, although their homes
have yet to be submerged in mud. Gubernatorial candidates are
attempting to keep out of this political quagmire, and offer few
indications of how they would address the mudflow with Jakarta.
As the mudflow, land subsidence, flaming geysers, and leaking
methane affect ever widening areas and transportation
bottlenecks affect provincial economics, local observers predict
that the mud may become a powerful election issue in both the
2008 gubernatorial and 2009 presidential elections. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Thousands of victims of the Sidoarjo mudflow took to
the streets of Porong on March 24, demanding that the central
government include their villages in compensation plans.
Residents of Siring Barat, Jatirejo Barat, Mindi, Ketapang,
Plumbon, Kalitengah, Glagaharum, Panjotan, and Gedang initiated
their blockade of road and rail transportation routes linking
Surabaya and East Java at 0900. The demonstration created
gridlock throughout surrounding areas, cancelling trains and
disrupting shipping schedules. The demonstrators demanded that
the central government include their villages in the impact map
that authorizes compensation as the increasing incidences of
land subsidence, geysers, and methane leaks threaten their
homes. After a late-afternoon meeting with the Deputy Regent of
Sidoarjo, the demonstrators agreed to reopen the road on the
condition that the Governor of East Java meet with them
personally the following afternoon.

3. (SBU) Handoko Teguh from the Sidoarjo Mud Management Board
(BPLS) told ConGen Surabaya that the villagers were unhappy with
the central government's recent decision to compensate victims
from three recently inundated villages (Kedungcangkring, Jabon,
and Besuki Kulon) from the state budget rather than adding these
areas to the impact map. Victims located within the boundaries
of the impact map qualify for compensation from Lapindo, the
company accused of triggering the mudflow. The ongoing rainy
season has seen an increased incidence of dam collapses,
widespread land subsidence, and the emergence of new flaming
geysers and methane bubbles in the residential areas surrounding
the mudflow containment areas.

4. (SBU) Professor Aribowo, a political observer from Airlangga
University, told ConGen Surabaya that the protestors are fed up
with promises from the local and provincial governments that
their grievances will be raised with the central government.
Aribowo suggested that it was time for the central government to
visit the site and revise the impact map accordingly to allow
all victims to receive appropriate compensation. Failure to
demonstrate sufficient concern, he concluded, would see the
central government's image drop rapidly. (Note: President
Yudhoyono (SBY) has flown over the site, but never visited.
SBY enjoyed widespread support in East Java during the 2004
presidential elections. End Note.) Aribowo added that it wasn't
difficult to predict that additional villages will soon become
victims as the area effected by the mudflow continues to grow.

5. (SBU) Radio callers during the standoff in Porong asked why
none of the gubernatorial candidates were taking a position on
the mudflow. Aribowo, who also works as an expert for the East
Java parliament and has contact with the various gubernatorial
campaign teams, surmised that the candidates have no idea how to
handle the problems in Porong. He added that the candidates do
not dare to raise this issue publicly for fear of creating
conflicts with the power elite in Jakarta. Kiai Ali Maschan
Moesa, the chairman of East Java NU and a Golkar vice
gubernatorial candidate, told local TV station JTV that the
victims of the mudflow should be moved quickly so that Porong
could become a "tourist resort."

MCCLELLAND

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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