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Cablegate: East Java Mudflow Update -- Victims Lose Lawsuit and Are

VZCZCXRO8526
RR RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJS #0080/01 3330718
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 290718Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL SURABAYA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0117
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0050
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 0052
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHTC/AMEMBASSY THE HAGUE 0001
RUEHJS/AMCONSUL SURABAYA 0119

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SURABAYA 000080

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS AND EB/ESC/IEC
DEPT FOR DS/IP/EAP
DOE FOR CUTLER/PI-32 AND NAKANO/PI-42
COMMERCE FOR USDOC 4430

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EPET ENIV ELAB ENRG PHUM PGOV ASEC ID
SUBJECT: EAST JAVA MUDFLOW UPDATE -- VICTIMS LOSE LAWSUIT AND ARE
URGED TO RELOCATE; UNEP PROVIDES GRANT; RIVER SEDIMENTATION
INCREASING

REF: SURABAYA 64 AND PREVIOUS (NOTAL)

SURABAYA 00000080 001.2 OF 002


Portions of this message are sensitive but unclassified. Please
protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary: Mudflow victims are planning to take their
case against the government and Lapindo company to The Hague
after the Jakarta District Court rejected their law suit. The
judges ruled that, in spending Rp 1.63 trillion (USD 175
million), the government and Lapindo have "done what they had to
do." Victims are apparently also considering requesting
assistance and possible asylum from U.S. Consulate General
Surabaya. Victims are considering using compensation payments
to purchase new houses from a Lapindo subsidiary. UNEP is
reportedly providing a grant to a local university to study
potential uses for the mud. A lack of rain is raising concerns
as sedimentation increases in the Porong river. End Summary.

Taking Their Case to International Court
-----------------------------------------

2. (U) On November 27, the Jakarta District Court rejected a law
suit brought by victims of the Sidoarjo mudflow against
President Yudhoyono, the ministers of Energy and Mineral
Resources and the Environment, the East Java Governor, the
Regent of Sidoarjo, and the Lapindo company. The Indonesian
Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), representing the victims, accused
the government and company of being slow to address the social,
economic, and psychological damage caused by the mudflow. YLBHI
also accused the defendents of failing to carryout legal
obligations to protect victims' rights and of being in violation
of Indonesian Law No. 11, 2005, on the ratification of the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

3. (U) According to press reports, the team of judges rejected
all accusations and expressed the view that the defendants had
already done their best to address the impact of the mudflow and
did not violate any laws. In explaining the verdict, the judges
noted that Rp 1.63 trillion (USD 175 million) had already been
spent. One of the judges, Martini Mardja said; "The government
and all of the defendants have done what they have to do." An
official from Sidoarjo Mud Management Agency (BPLS) told us
separately November 29 that approximately Rp 700 billion (USD 77
million) has been spent on handling the mudflow. The remaining
Rp 900 billion (USD 96 million) has been spent on relocation and
20% compensation payments to victims, daily cost-of-living
allowances for those displaced, evacuation, and infrastructure
repair (including repaving the main Porong road).

4. (SBU) According to press reports, Taufil Basari, a lawyer for
the victims, expressed disappointment with the verdict. He
complained that the judges had ruled out witness and expert
testimony, focusing solely on the amount of money that had been
spent. He accused the judges of disregarding the humanitarian
costs. Taufik added that YLNHI would appeal the verdict within
14 days. On November 28, local press reports announced that the
victims were raising money in a planned effort to bring their
case against Lapindo to The Hague. Sunarto, the coordinator of
a local NGO (Pagar Rekontrak), told reporters that the victims
were also lobbying U.S. Consulate General Surabaya and
considering requesting asylum in the U.S. (Note: On November 16,
Pagar Rekontrak sent a formal letter requesting a meeting at the
Consulate. No date has been set.)

Relocation
-------------

5. (U) Local media reported November 25 that PT Minarak Lapindo
Jaya (a subsidiary of Lapindo) had purchased 200 hectares of
land west of Sidoarjo with the intention of building 6,030
houses. The company announced that it would give priority to
mudflow victims, who could use the remaining 80% compensation
payment to purchase the house. Reportedly, an estimated 1,500
families from the Tanggulangin Housing Complex expressed
interest in accepting PT Minarak's offer, calling the offer
"realistic." They are now awaiting details of the
administrative process and the exact location of the homes.
East Java NU Chairman Ali Maschan Moesa publicly suggested
November 28 that relocation was the best solution for thousands
of Sidoarjo mudflow victims.

SURABAYA 00000080 002.2 OF 002

UNEP Grant
---------------

6. (U) According to local press reports, the UN Environment
Program (UNEP) will provide a grant to ITS (the 10th November
Institute of Technology in Surabaya) to conduct research over
the next four months on potential uses for the mud. The value
of the grant has not been disclosed. The research results will
be reported to the UN, BPLS, and the Minister for Environment.

Doing a Rain Dance
---------------------

7. (SBU) According to BPLS officials, the lack of rain in East
Java and corresponding decrease in the water flow rate in the
Porong river has resulted in a buildup of sedimentation,
especially near Pajarakan Village, close to where the mud enters
the river. BPLS is employing heavy equipment and dredgers in an
effort to keep the mud moving, but BPLS admits it needs to do
more. Water released from the Lengkong Dam, which was being
used to keep flow rates high and the mud moving, has been
diverted to supply water to the city of Surabaya. BPLS is now
hoping for East Java's delayed rainy season to begin.
MCCLELLAND

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