Hundreds of farmers demonstrate against water privatisation

Source – June 4, 2005
Protest against the privatization and commercialisation of water (Borneo News)
Protest against the privatization and commercialisation of water (Borneo News)

Bagus Kurniawan, Yogyakarta – Law Number 7/2004 on Water Resources continues to encounter opposition. Actions against the law were once again organised by hundreds of farmers, students and non-government organisations in the Central Java city of Yogyakarta on Saturday June 4.

The demonstrators, who were from the People’s Water Concern Alliance (ARPA), protested by holding a long-march from the Yogyakarta North Square to the South Square. The march started at 10am and passed by the central post office on Jalan Senopati and then on to the Gondomanan intersection on Jalan Brigjen Katamso

Demonstrators were demanding that water management be returned to a social not commercial function. They are also asking for the rights and sovereignty of the people over water resources to be reinstated.

During the action, farmers brought posters with the slogans “Reject the buying and selling of water resources”, “Reject Law No 4/2004 on Water Resources”, and “Water’s scarce, who’s at fault”. They also brought five large earthenware water bowls standing one meter tall by becak (pedicab). The water bowels had writing on them such as “Reject water privatisation, water is for the people”.

One of the water bowels was then placed in the middle of the intersection in front of the post office as a symbol of opposition against the water resources law. Throughout the protest demonstrators shouted “Privatisation no” and “Water for the people yes”.

In his speech action coordinator M. Chabib said that the enactment of the water resources law had created a shift in the way water is valued with its social function becoming an economic one.

Water used to be a public commodity and could be used by the general pubic including farmers to irrigate agricultural land. After the law was enacted it opened up the way for the commercialisation of water. “This could have the impact of threatening the availability of water as a result of the exploitation of water by capitalists who are not concerned over water conservation”, he said. (iy)

[Translated by James Balowski.]