The business of globally-acting enterprises follows colonial patterns. Resources and workers are exploited where they are cheapest and where law and law enforcement are weak. HeidelbergCement, one of the worlds biggest cement producers, is no exception to this rule. In reports to their shareholders they draw a successful and beautiful picture, but in reality their activities cause environmental and social destruction.
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When a group of German activists learned about the threat to the environment at the Kendeng Mountains in Central Java, Indonesia, they spread the word in Germany, where HeidelbergCement’s headquarters is based. The consistent and non-violent struggle of the farmers living there against the planned cement factory of HeidelbergCement’s Indonesian subsidiary Indocement is an ongoing reminder of what many populations face around the world. The messages below are sent in solidarity, to the Kendeng Community, and as a show of support to many others in similar situations.
Sara Kuru: “People and nature before profit maximization!”
The persistent resistance of the people in the Kendeng Mountains made me aware of the disastrous effects of the cement industry on people and nature. That is why I have been taking part in the protests outside HeidelbergCement shareholders' meetings since 2017. In 2019, I had the opportunity to be a guest of the Samin, to get to know their community and the Kendeng Mountains. Their peaceful and creative protest to fight for their land and rights touch me. Whether I cement my feet in solidarity with the Kendeng women, set up information booths at markets or in the park, host supporters from far away, read Gunarti's words at rallies, or tell family and friends about the issue – I raise my voice against oppression and exploitation and for the people who care about the Kendeng Mountains. People and nature before profit maximization! Kendeng Lestari! [For a sustainable Kendeng!]
Basilisa Dengen: Persistence in fighting for basic values
The struggle of Mbak Gunarti and her community in the Kendeng Mountains made me think a lot about my consumptive lifestyle and modern society in general, and about its impact on humans and the environment. What I learned from meeting with Mbak Gunarti is an attitude of simplicity as well as persistence in fighting for important basic values, not only for oneself, but also for living together. Participating in actions of solidarity with JM-PPK (Jaringan Masyarakat Peduli Pegunungan Kendeng / Community Network Concerned for the Kendeng Mountains) and against HeidelbergCement’s (Indocement) plans to build a cement factory at the Kendeng Mountains is one of the concrete things that I can do at least. Beside this, I engage in networking and disseminating information on various occasions, so that this important issue is not forgotten.
Felix Girault: Developing alternatives to cement
Cement is a disaster for global climate. It can also lead to huge social and environmental threats, as we see in the Kendeng Mountains. I am deeply concerned about the mining activities in the karst landscapes of the Kendeng Mountains and stay in solidarity with the JM-PPK as well as all people defending their land and struggling for environmental justice. Together with many other people from the climate movement in Germany, I am fighting against the harmful politics of HeidelbergCement, LafargeHolcim and other cement companies. This means, for example, organizing protests and taking to the streets. But it also means developing alternatives to cement: building and renovating houses with as little cement as possible. In Heidelberg, we are currently building a self-organized housing project out of wood and straw for 250 young people. It will be a place where people defending environmental and social justice will always be welcomed.
Anett Keller: “We are ONE family living on ONE planet”
"Guardians of the Earth" was the headline I gave to the first article I wrote about the people of the Kendeng Mountains in 2013. And that is exactly what they are for me still to this day. During my visits to Pati and the surrounding area, I have met many people who stand up for Mother Earth in an authentic, sincere and peace-loving way; people who think of the generations coming after us and want to leave them a healthy environment. These encounters have left me with a feeling of deep connection. In many political and/or environmental movements, a ‘being against’ dominates. At the JM-PPK, however, I found a ‘for’ – for the Kendeng Mountains, for the water, for the land, for healthy food, for us, for our children and grandchildren. It is a ‘for’ that I wish all people would share. That's why I co-founded the Save Kendeng solidarity network: to tell people what is at stake when our long-term livelihoods are put at risk for short-term profits. To tell others what we can learn from the people of the Kendeng Mountains – that we are ONE family living on ONE planet.
Marianne Klute: “The Kendeng karst gives life”
A karst with caves and underground watercourses, the Kendeng Mountains provide water, food and clean air for thousands of people, animals and plants. The Kendeng karst gives life. Its integrity is of great importance for ecology and climate in this populated area in Central Java. It literally determines the life and death of the local population. Furthermore, intact karsts are also of great importance for the entire planet Earth. Limestone quarrying causes huge environmental damage of ecosystems, water cycles and landscapes. Concrete production requires high energy consumption. Not to mention the emissions of greenhouse gases, dust and toxic gases. As a nature lover who lived in Java for many years, I am very aware of the ecological importance of the Kendeng Mountains for all of humanity. I appreciate the conscious decision of the Samin to treat Mother Earth with respect. Women like Ibu [‘Mother’] Gunarti maintaining a holistic relationship with nature and future generations are a role model for all of us.
Yvonne Kunz: Standing up for justice and a self-determined life
Nothing much feels as right as supporting JM-PPK. People taught me that growing agricultural products is a very noble thing to do. Fighting, creatively, enduringly and in a non-violent way, to be able to continue being a farmer, is even nobler to me. The opponents of the Kendeng farmers are gigantic companies. Together, as a network, with support from places around the globe, JM-PPK continues to stand up for justice and a self- determined life, and against destruction for profit. I’ve had the pleasure of accompanying the group for several years now. This started during my time at the NGO Watch Indonesia! And it continues until today. I have learned so much, about being self-organized, about sticking to one’s own conviction, and about embracing people on the basis of their words and actions rather on who they are or want to be.
Josephine Sahner: “Their struggle is also ours”
Supporting the JM-PPK and their fight against HeidelbergCement and showing my solidarity is a matter of my heart. I admire the people of the Kendeng Mountains, their strength, their will, their creativity and their perseverance with which they lead their struggle against the construction of a cement factory by Indocement (HeidelbergCement), for so long now. A multinational corporation against a small group of people – a hopeless situation? In the past years I’ve had the chance to meet members of their community in Germany, visited them in Central Java and could better understand their daily life. The JM-PPK is not only fighting for themselves and the preservation of their livelihood, but for all of us, for their sisters and brothers all over the world, to preserve Mother Earth. We must realize that their struggle is also ours. If we do so, the big corporation will be opposed by a mass of people and nothing will be hopeless anymore. Kendeng Lestari! [‘For a sustainable Kendeng!]
The Save Kendeng network started to inform the public about the impact of cement production for land, water, plants, animals, humans and the climate in 2017. Save Kendeng invited activists from the Kendeng Mountains to Germany to talk to the public and the shareholders of HeidelbergCement. From that time till today, the Save Kendeng network, working closely together with human rights and climate activists, has been constantly collecting and disseminating information and raising concerns. If transnational greedy and hazardous companies destroy our future, we need transnational solidarity to protect it.
Save Kendeng can be contacted via: firstname.lastname@example.org