Friday, May 2, 2008
| MAYDAY IN JAKARTA
|The Jakarta Post, Jakarta, 2 May 2008
Thousands join May Day rally, urge fair treatment
The heat of the capital's sweltering sun on Thursday did not stop thousands of people from joining the World Labor Day rallies, closing down Jakarta's major thoroughfares and halting traffic.
Some 18,000 people held two large rallies in front of the State Palace and the House of Representatives, shouting out their demands for higher wages and their objections to the current contract system for blue-collar workers.
"The government has yet to show its support for the country's working class, who have been denied their rights. We gather here to tell them that the government is responsible for their labor problems," said Ansari, one of the rally's field coordinators.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said the government would continue to consider the fate of workers to ensure a good relationship between them and their employers.
"Employers and workers need each other. It's impossible for employers to be without workers, and vice versa," said presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng, as quoted by Antara on Thursday.
In one of the May Day rallies, as the day is popularly known, thousands of people from 30 workers' associations and non-governmental organizations swarmed around the Hotel Indonesia roundabout from 10 a.m. Using buses and trucks, the protesters came in colorful clothes, holding banners and flags and yelling out chants. Later on, some 8,000 people started to march to the State Palace.
The rallies forced the Jakarta Police to close down Jl. M.H. Thamrin, Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat and Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara as the protesters walked 2.5 kilometers and stopped a few times for speeches.
"Workers rule! The people should be prosperous!", "Destroy capitalists!", "Long live the people, long live the workers!" were chanted by the crowd. They were welcomed by the police in front of the Palace with barbed wire and a water cannon car.
It was a similar situation outside the House where thousands of workers staged another rally. The Jakarta Police's Traffic Management Center reported people who gathered in front of the House before joining in the May Day Fiesta and the nearby Bung Karno Stadium. The event featured the People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Hidayat Nur Wahid and famous pop group Nidji.
Some 200 protesters rallying in front of the Wisma Bakrie in Kuningan, South Jakarta, about the effect of the Lapindo mudflow were arrested by South Jakarta Police for not holding a police permit for a rally.
Separately, the Asian Migrant Domestic Workers Alliance, the International Labor Organization and several local organizations held a protest at Tugu Proklamasi in Menteng, Central Jakarta, urging the government to recognize domestic helpers.
"We want domestic helpers to have the same protection, salaries and working contracts like other legal jobs," said Sumiati, a secretary at the Alliance.
The city administration, police and army deployed up to 15,000 personnel to guard the rallies.***
| A Glimpse of The Future
|** The study shows that without better defences, in 2025 the sea will reach the presidential palace around five kilometres (three miles) inland as well as completely inundating Jakarta's historic old city to the north. ….. The problem has been exacerbated by factories, hotels
and wealthy residents drilling deep water bores to bypass the city's shambolic water grid, sucking out the groundwater and causing further subsidence. … "If you do nothing about the groundwater problem, parts of Jakarta will sink five metres (by 2025)," Brinkman says.
** A glimpse of the future can be seen in the shacks of Muara Baru, where the city's north meets the sea, and where flood levels late last year reached up to two metres. The few trees that shaded this fishing slum were underwater for so long they are now dead and bare. Muara
Baru is bordered by just the kind of high-rise towers, luxury homes and mega-malls that are pushing the area into the sea.
Indonesia's thirsty capital is a sinking city by Aubrey Belford, Mon Apr 14
JAKARTA (AFP) - Separated by a road and a viscous finger of black, garbage-choked water, the stilt-house slum of Muara Baru and the BMW car dealership that faces it appear as if from different worlds. But on December 6, 2025, these two extremes of the Indonesian capital will
have something in common as a World Bank study shows that unless action is taken, they and much of the coastal city of 12 million will be submerged by seawater.
Experts have pinpointed that date as the next peak of an 18.6-year astronomical cycle, when sea levels will rise enough to engulf much of Indonesia's low-lying capital. Climate change is causing sea levels to rise, but the study's authors say the main problem is that Jakarta is sinking under the weight of out-of-control development. "The major reason for this is not climate change or whatever, but just the sinking of Jakarta," says JanJaap Brinkman, an engineer with Dutch
consultancy Delft Hydraulics who worked with the World Bank on the study. "We can exactly predict to what extent the sea will come into Jakarta."
By 2025, estimates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change show, sea levels will have risen by only about five centimetres (two inches). But Brinkman says Jakarta, which spans a flat plain between mountains and coast, will be between 40 and 60 centimetres lower than
it is now. The study shows that without better defences, in 2025 the sea will reach the presidential palace around five kilometres (three miles) inland as well as completely inundating Jakarta's historic old city to the north. December 6 will be the highest point of the tidal
cycle, but Brinkman warns there are likely to be plenty of floods before then. Brinkman blames the swelling city's over-development,which is compressing the land it is built on.
The problem has been exacerbated by factories, hotels and wealthy residents drilling deep water bores to bypass the city's shambolic water grid, sucking out the groundwater and causing further
subsidence. The World Bank has called for a halt to deep groundwater extraction, and the city administration has raised the price ofgroundwater but so far there has been little progress. "If you do nothing about the groundwater problem, parts of Jakarta will sink five metres (by 2025)," Brinkman says.
A glimpse of the future can be seen in the shacks of Muara Baru, where the city's north meets the sea, and where flood levels late last year reached up to two metres. The few trees that shaded this fishing slum were underwater for so long they are now dead and bare. Muara
Baru is bordered by just the kind of high-rise towers, luxury homes and mega-malls that are pushing the area into the sea.
There is little water to drink in the slum itself -- around 40 percent of Jakarta's population is not connected to the water grid, said Achmad Lanti, the city's water regulator. Jakarta's water was
privatised in 1997 in the hope of improving services. But Lanti said the two foreign operators brought in to run it had failed to live up to pledges to bring water to 75 percent of the population by 2007. The shortage leaves many Jakartans with limited options: buy the water at a marked-up price, dig for it, or steal it.
Around half of the water from Jakarta's pipes disappears through a combination of leaks and theft, Lanti said. "Sometimes (those who steal) are only individuals, sometimes they form a kind of organised crime, what I call a water mafia," he said. In Muara Baru, Sayong, a 65-year-old grandmother, and Aris, who says he is in his 70s, skid down hill holding a push-cart filled with jugs of fresh water.
Each day Sayong fills three carts full of water from a pump and sells it on to other residents. After using the water she needs and selling the rest, Sayong, who lives with two adult children and two grandchildren, said she earns a maximum of 20,000 rupiah (2.20 dollars) a day. Her tiny income means she has no option but to stay in Muara Baru, where the floods are a constant threat. "It's serious, I can't sleep because I'm always afraid that there will be flooding
from the sea," she says.
The waste-filled canal that runs up to the slum's edge shows the effect of the city's chaotic development. Massive buildings have taken over natural drainage sites, while human waste and rubbish clog waterways, causing freshwater floods that surge up from the ground
during the rainy season.
The drainage system built by the Dutch who once ruled Jakarta is unable to cope with the city's rapid growth, said Hongjoo Hahm, the top infrastructure specialist at the World Bank in Indonesia. "Every year we get floods," he says. "The scale of the floods (the Dutch) were talking about every 25 years are happening every year."
| WOMEN AND BIODIVERSITY DECLARATION
|South Asian Conference Statement
WOMEN AND BIODIVERSITY DECLARATION
March 12, 2008
Women farmers, local artisans, grassroots' activists, NGOs, representatives from the women's movement, biodiversity networks and concerned citizens from across South Asia – Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka gathered in Tangail Bangladesh during 10 -12 March, 2008 in peace, solidarity and friendship on the occasion of International Women's Day, 2008 to share concerns about the deepening crisis of biodiversity and with that the impacts on
women's lives, community livelihoods and diverse cultures.
Our governments continue to keep women issues INVISIBLE in biodiversity planning both domestically and globally. The text of the global biodiversity treaty – Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) -- recognises the roles of women in preserving biodiversity. The Ninth
Global Conference of Parties (COP9) of the CBD (of which all our governments are parties) will be held in May 2008 in Bonn, Germany. We demand that globally governments reaffirm the key role of women as biodiversity keepers and knowledge holders and pledge to further that in their national and sectoral programmes.
TECHNOLOGY – The violence and violations
The main cause of the increasing disenfranchisement of women is the modern technology employed to further the profits of multinational corporations and private enterprise. Apart from devaluing women's knowledge, several "modern" technologies are doing great harm.
Chemicals are poisoning our food, our water and all forms of life in our farms. The heavily mechanised garment industry is using women as cheap labour and ruining our own local industry, which for centuries has taken advantage of the skill of local women to produce a wide
diversity of extraordinarily beautiful fabrics, particularly in silk and cotton. Our rich heritage of thousands of local seeds is being wiped out by imported so-called high yielding varieties and hybrids.
More recently, the threat is intensified with the widespread application of genetic engineering in agriculture encouraged by our governments in collusion with the biotech majors. Reproductive
technologies for fertility control and infertility treatments are turning women's bodies and body parts into commodities and pose threats to women's health and their social condition. We also decry the increasing use of military technologies in many parts of the South Asian region, including in Afghanistan. Increasing industrialization, dominated by corporate multinationals, means more women are being forced into dangerous trades. Trafficking, prostitution and the trade of body parts have been increasing.
Foreign investment and aid for agriculture have been leading to the takeover of common resources and local knowledge: this knowledge is then repackaged and sold back to the people in patented form. This is happening as part of a process that also imposes superfluous and toxic
technologies, such as the 'Green Revolution package' and now GMOs.
This is creating permanent dependency and a captive market, which means that economic sovereignty is taken away from countries, with women being the most seriously affected.
IDEOLOGY – The enclosures and injustices
Not only is the present corporate-sponsored, government-supported global pattern of production and consumption destroying biological resources, but is also continuing to the destruction and misappropriation of the biodiversity-related traditional knowledge of
our grandmothers, mothers, sisters and daughters, our midwives, women healers, farmers and artisans. Privatisation of both this women's wisdom and the living matter to which it is linked is putting trade concerns over and above the real needs of peoples. This misappropriation of local resources and knowledge is justified by a new ideology, the ideology of privatization. A new international order is being built on the basis of this ideology, the foundation of which is so-called Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs). This ideology has no room for women's traditional knowledge. Every time a woman is removed from her territory, a part of our culture and knowledge dies. In contrast with the enormous support from the authorities for foreign
investment and export-oriented industry, traditional practices, which have been guaranteeing the health and the nutrition of millions of poor people for centuries, receive very little official support.
OUR STRUGGLES AND SURVIVAL – The diversities
Women's cultures, dignities and women's skills -- our songs, our dances, our arts, our crafts, are severely threatened. These jewels, which are of inestimable value in their own right, also play a vital role in preserving biodiversity. If they - and the biodiversity to which they are linked -- are to survive, they need urgent support.
Biodiversity in crises, creates food and farm crises which pushes women into unsafe lives and demeaning livelihoods such as trafficking and prostitution. If our biodiversity-based ways are destroyed, our souls will be shredded and the world will be pushed at an ever increasing pace into environmental disaster.
Never before have our identities were at such risk. Our farmer sisters can not be farmers any more if they do no have seeds. Our traditional health practitioners can not cure and be still revered as healers, if they are denied access to herbs or the habitats of medicinal plants
are destroyed. Our fisher folk sisters can not be called fishers, if they can not fish in their waters. Our tribal sisters can not keep their cultural practises in their society, if they are driven off
Our own practice across South Asia has demonstrated that women can take care of their families and the social and natural environment, regenerating commons and improving the health of their families, when they have received some support. Biodiversity and its keepers need to be nurtured as an insurance as tomorrow's threats become today's reality. The region has been particularly vulnerable to natural disasters, such as cyclones, tsunamis and earthquakes. With the climate change crises making the region even more susceptible to god-made calamities, trade adds to the man-made disasters. If life, culture and identities of peoples of South Asia has to not only go on but thrive then both its women and biodiversity warrant due attention.
We call upon the governments in the South Asian region:
-- to support the efforts of small and marginal farmers to promote
-- to protect indigenous knowledge by refusing to patent life forms;
-- to stop the onslaught on natural resources and local ecosystems
through trade—oriented and profit-focused policies;
-- to prevent any so-called "development" programmes that come in the
way of biodiverse farming practices;
--to support women's efforts to maintain and improve crop and forest diversity;
-- to secure agricultural land for women and to put an end to
anything that severs good community relations;
-- to stop imports of chemical fertilisers, pesticides and hybrid
seeds &GE seeds;
-- to help us help ourselves to conserve and control our own
indigenous seeds and animal breeds;
-- to put an end to our eviction from our homes and lands;
-- to remember that any assault against food, farm and feed is also a
violence against women.
[ This statement was adopted by 245 women participating in the South
Asia Women and Biodiversity conference held during 10 – 12 March, 2008
in Tangail Bangladesh. The conference was organised by UBINIG,
Narigrantha Prabartana, Nayakrishi Andolon and GRAIN]