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Islanders resisting nickel mining permits, Wawonii, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia


Description:

Wawonii is an island of about 867 square km, located off the south-eastern coast of Sulawesi. The island was earlier part of Konawe Regency but belongs to the new Konawe Kepulauan (Konkep) Regency since 2013. Back in 2007, the Konawe Regent issued a business mining permit (IUP) to the company PT DBM, which included four villages on the island. Although the concession included residential areas and ancestral lands, the residents were not included in the decision-making process, which sparked conflict [1].

Since then, the total number of IUPs on the island has reached 18 – 7 for metal minerals and 11 for metal and non-rock minerals – and the residents are now facing large scale industrial mining by more than 10 corporations [2]. The residents have been promised monetary compensation by the investors for lost crops, trees, and lands, as well as new infrastructural developments and employment opportunities. However, the islanders claim these to have been empty promises since the compensation was inadequate and no development projects have been seen [1].

 Mining activities threaten the island’s bountiful rainforests, as well as they pollute the sea and coastal areas. This deprives the islanders of sources of clean water, as well as forces fishermen to go further out at sea to secure catches [3]. Moreover, the risk of landslides increases with mining, as well as the resilience against floods decreases [2]. According to the National Coastal and Small Islands Law, Wawonii is too small for mining activities to be allowed, which has been a point of emphasis in the advocacy by EJOs [1][4].

Resistance against the mining activities have been violent and met by repressive police action. In 2015, villagers burnt six trucks and other heavy equipment belonging to PT DBM, as well as its smelter. The action was followed by the arrest of the two alleged instigators and violence against the general public by armed police [1]. A few years of continuous resistance followed, mainly concerning 15 active IUPs with effects on local communities. Hundreds of island residents – most of them farmers and fishermen – traveled by boat from Wawonii to the mainland city of Kendari, where the regency administration offices are located, to protest [1] [3]. Protests have also been seen on-site, sometimes involving residents building huts to protect their lands from company machinery [3].

 A large demonstration in October 2018 finally resulted in the Regent adhering to the demand of the protestors. A special committee on mining conflicts in Konkep was formed, and in late October community members were invited to a meeting with the Deputy Regent and relevant political bodies and agencies. The outcome was a consensus on that the 15 IUPs were to be revoked, and a letter was sent from the Regent of Konkep to the Governor of Southeastern Sulawesi requesting permission for revocation [4].

 In early March 2019, two big demonstrations took place that sought to put pressure on the Provincial Governor, who had not yet delivered a final decision. In the first protest, around 300 Wawonii residents traveled to the Governor’s office and tried to push through security forces to meet the Governor in person. In addition, a group of students organized a theatrical self-burial ritual, describing the land of Wawonii before and after the entry of the mining corporations. A few days later, the protestors managed to break into the courtyard outside the office, and the district police responded with tear gas and beatings. The action resulted in 11 injured, several of whom were taken to the hospital [2].

On March 13th 2019, the Deputy Governor met with the protesters, separated from the crowd by barbed wire, promising that the permits would be revoked [5]. The following day, a revocation statement including the 15 IUPs was signed [6]. In April the same year, however, the Provincial Government revised its promise. It was announced that only 9 permits, which were in any case just about to expire, would be canceled. The remaining 6 nickel mining permits are left in operation since the Province Government’s examination pointed to no irregularities in company practice. Hence, if revoked, the Government would risk lawsuits from the companies in question [3] [7]. Consequently, the conflict remains unresolved. 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Islanders resisting nickel mining permits, Wawonii, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia
Country:Indonesia
State or province:Southeast Sulawesi
Location of conflict:Wawonii Island
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mineral ore exploration
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific commodities:Nickel
Zinc

Project Details and Actors

Project details

There are currently 6 active nickel mining permits on the island.

According to China Dialogue (12.12.2019), one "company aiming to start mining in Wawonii, Gema Kreasi Perdana (GKP), is an arm of the Harita conglomerate owned by Indonesia’s super-rich Lim family. Through a subsidiary, Harita also operates a nickel smelter on the Indonesian island of Obi, to the east of Wawonii, financed by Harita and two subsidiaries of the Chinese firm Xinxing Ductile Iron Pipes. Harita controls 20% and Xinxing 80% of that project. Most of the nickel processed there is then exported to China." There are several Chinese investments on nickel extraction and smelting in the area.

Type of populationRural
Affected Population:30,000 aprox
Start of the conflict:2007
Company names or state enterprises:PT Kharisman Kreasi Abadi
IgawaraIgawara Industrial Services and Trading PTE Ltd from Singapore
PT Alatoma Karya
PT Bumi Konawe Mining
PT Derawan Berjaya Mining
PT Gema Kreasi Perdana
PT Kimco Citra Mandiri
PT Konawe Bakti Pratama
PT Hasta Karya Megacipta
PT Pasir Berjaya Mining
PT Cipta Puri Sejahtera
PT Natanya Mitra Energy
PT Investa Pratama Inti Karya
Relevant government actors:Konawe Kepulauan (Konkep) Regency
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:- Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA)
- Indonesian Environmental Forum (Walhi)
- Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS)
- Indonesian Farmers Alliance (API)
- Mining Advocacy Network (Jatam)
- The People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice (KIARA)
- Bina Desa (Bindes)
- Participatory Mapping Networking (JKPP)
- Institute of Policy Research and Advocacy (ELSAM)
- Public Interest Lawyer Network (PILNET)
- Commission for “the Disappeared” and Victims of Violence (KontraS)
- Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN)
- Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS), http://en.ihcs.or.id/
- Islamic Student Association (HMI)
- Indonesian National Student Movement (GMNI)
- Wawonii Student and Community Association (PMMW)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Landless peasants
Farmers
Local ejos
Social movements
Fisher people
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Religious groups
Trade unions
Industrial workers
Forms of mobilization:Street protest/marches
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Development of a network/collective action
Property damage/arson
Artistic and creative actions (eg guerilla theatre, murals)
Development of alternative proposals
Blockades
Objections to the EIA
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Public campaigns
Referendum other local consultations
Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Strikes

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Global warming, Oil spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Militarization and increased police presence, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Specific impacts on women

Outcome

Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Criminalization of activists
Institutional changes
Negotiated alternative solution
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:The common ambition of the involved EJOs, residents and recently also the local government, is to get all mining permits on the island revoked in line with the Coastal and Small Islands Law.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Despite many years of protest, not all permits have been canceled and there is no promise of new permits not being granted. However, 9 permits were revoked tanks to continuous mobilization and resistance by the islanders.

Sources & Materials

Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Decree number 63/2007

Environmental Protection and Management Law No. 32/2009

Decree number 63 of 2007

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

On an island coveted by miners, villagers prepare to raise a ruckus. 13 Sept 2019. Mongabay
https://news.mongabay.com/2019/09/on-an-island-coveted-by-miners-villagers-prepare-to-raise-a-ruckus/

Not Mining and Violence, but Agrarian Justice to People of Wawonii Island, Southeast Sulawesi
https://elsam.or.id/not-mining-and-violence-but-agrarian-justice-to-people-of-wawonii-island-southeast-sulawesi/

An island mapped for mines gets a reprieve after violent protests. 19 March 2019. Mongabay
https://news.mongabay.com/2019/03/an-island-mapped-for-mines-gets-a-reprieve-after-violent-protests/

Demo Tuntut Pemerintah Sultra Cabut Izin Tambang di Wawonii, Warga Alami Kekerasan Aparat. 8 March 2019. Mongabay
https://www.mongabay.co.id/2019/03/08/demo-tuntut-pemerintah-sultra-cabut-izin-tambang-di-wawonii-warga-alami-kekerasan-aparat/

Pemerintah Sultra akan Cabut 15 Izin Tambang di Wawonii
https://www.mongabay.co.id/2019/03/14/pemerintah-sultra-akan-cabut-15-izin-tambang-di-wawonii/

Indonesian villagers fighting planned mine garner national support. 29 Oct 2019.Mongabay
https://news.mongabay.com/2019/10/indonesian-villagers-fighting-planned-mine-garner-national-support/

[1] Mongabay (2015). Dari Pulau Wawonii: Lahan Warga Terampas Tambang, Protes, Berbuah Aniaya dan Penangkapan.
https://www.mongabay.co.id/2015/05/12/dari-pulau-wawonii-lahan-warga-terampas-tambang-protes-berbuah-aniaya-dan-penangkapan/

[3] Mongabay (2019b). On an island coveted by miners, villagers prepare to raise a ruckus.
https://news.mongabay.com/2019/09/on-an-island-coveted-by-miners-villagers-prepare-to-raise-a-ruckus/

[4] Mongabay (2018). Warga, DPRD dan Pemerintah Konawe Kepulauan Tolak Tambang, Bagaimana Sikap Gubernur?
https://www.mongabay.co.id/2018/11/12/warga-dprd-dan-pemerintah-konawe-kepulauan-tolak-tambang-bagaimana-sikap-gubernur/

[2] Mongabay (2019a). Demo tuntut Pemerintah Sulta Cabut Izin Tambang di Wawonii, Warga Alami Kekerasan Aparat.
https://www.mongabay.co.id/2019/03/08/demo-tuntut-pemerintah-sultra-cabut-izin-tambang-di-wawonii-warga-alami-kekerasan-aparat/

[5] Mongabay (2019c). An island mapped for mines gets a reprieve after violent protests.
https://news.mongabay.com/2019/03/an-island-mapped-for-mines-gets-a-reprieve-after-violent-protests/

[6] Mongabay (2019d). Demo Tuntut Pemerintah Sultra Cabut Izin Tambang di Wawonii, Warga Alami Kekerasan Aparat.
https://www.mongabay.co.id/2019/03/08/demo-tuntut-pemerintah-sultra-cabut-izin-tambang-di-wawonii-warga-alami-kekerasan-aparat/

[7] DetikSultra (2019). Ali Mazi Ogah Cabut IUP di Konkep.
https://detiksultra.com/ali-mazi-ogah-cabut-iup-di-konkep

Mongabay (2019e). Indonesian villagers fighting planned mine garner national support.
https://news.mongabay.com/2019/10/indonesian-villagers-fighting-planned-mine-garner-national-support/

Mongabay (2019f). Gubernur Sultra Cabut 9 Izin Tambang di Wawonii, Bekukan 6 Lainnya.
https://www.mongabay.co.id/2019/04/25/gubernur-sultra-cabut-9-izin-tambang-di-wawonii-bekukan-6-lainnya/

Humanitarian News (2019). Watchdog denounces arrests of four anti-mining activists in Indonesia.
http://humanitariannews.org/20191126/watchdog-denounces-arrests-four-anti-mining-activists-indonesia

Asia Times (2019). Mining permits revoked after Wawonii protests.
https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/03/article/mining-permits-revoked-after-wawonii-protests/

ChinaDialogue (2019). Nickel mining resisted in Indonesia.
https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/11727-Nickel-mining-resisted-in-Indonesia

[2] Mongabay (2019d). Demo tuntut Pemerintah Sulta Cabut Izin Tambang di Wawonii, Warga Alami Kekerasan Aparat.
https://www.mongabay.co.id/2019/03/08/demo-tuntut-pemerintah-sultra-cabut-izin-tambang-di-wawonii-warga-alami-kekerasan-aparat/

ChinaDialogue (2019). Nickel mining resisted in Indonesia. Hans Nicholas Jong. 12.12.2019. A looming export ban on raw nickel has prompted a wave of Chinese investment in nickel smelters, prompting local resistance.
https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/11727-Nickel-mining-resisted-in-Indonesia

[6] Mongabay (2019e). Demo Tuntut Pemerintah Sultra Cabut Izin Tambang di Wawonii, Warga Alami Kekerasan Aparat.
https://www.mongabay.co.id/2019/03/08/demo-tuntut-pemerintah-sultra-cabut-izin-tambang-di-wawonii-warga-alami-kekerasan-aparat/

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Mongabay (2019). Indonesian communities protest mining. Mongabay.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hmp_Dl_q54

Police armed with batons beat and kick an unarmed, screaming man protesting mining in Wawonii in Southeast Sulawesi Tuesday.

from a journalist there (@ianjmorse 7 March 2019 twitter)
https://twitter.com/ianjmorse/status/1103650461997948933

On Twitter: The #savewawonii campaign.
https://twitter.com/hashtag/savewawonii

Indonesian communities protest mining.Mongabay. 19 Set 2019
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hmp_Dl_q54

#savewawonii campaign
https://twitter.com/hashtag/savewawonii

Kasus Tambang Wawonii: Polisi Cenderung Membela Investor daripada Rakyat
https://twitter.com/jatamnas/status/1165870450288672770?s=20

A woman, Marwah, yelling at an excavator belonging to PT Gema Kreasi Perdana (GKP), which is plowing over her land
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SKawkQyaV0

Woman yelling at an excavator belonging to PT Gema Kreasi Perdana (GKP), which is plowing over her land
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SKawkQyaV0

Meta information

Contributor:ICTA-UAB
Last update11/01/2020

Images

 

Image by Kamarudin for Mongabay.

Students stage a mock burial to express their opposition to mining in Wawonii.

Image by Kamarudin for Mongabay.

Lukman Abunawas, the deputy governor of Southeast Sulawesi, addresses the protesters on March 13. 2019

Image by Kamarudin for Mongabay.

A woman faces the police at one of the protests in Kendari.

Image by Fajar A. Sidik.

A graphic being used to promote the #SaveWawonii campaign against mining on the island.

Image by Kamarudin for Mongabay.

Lukman Abunawas, the deputy governor of Southeast Sulawesi, addresses the protesters on March 13. 2019

Image by Kamarudin for Mongabay.

Students stage a mock burial to express their opposition to mining in Wawonii.

Image by Kamarudin for Mongabay.

A woman faces the police at one of the protests in Kendari.

Image by Fajar A. Sidik.

A graphic being used to promote the #SaveWawonii campaign against mining on the island.

Image by Kamarudin for Mongabay.

Lukman Abunawas, the deputy governor of Southeast Sulawesi, addresses the protesters on March 13. 2019

Image by Kamarudin for Mongabay.

Students stage a mock burial to express their opposition to mining in Wawonii.

Image by Kamarudin for Mongabay.

A woman faces the police at one of the protests in Kendari.

Image by Fajar A. Sidik.

A graphic being used to promote the #SaveWawonii campaign against mining on the island.