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When life is made impossible PARANGTRITIS - Together we are sitting below a blue plastic cover that is used as roof for a bed and some personal possessions. That is all that Kudasi has left. Together we look back at the earthquake that struck some one and a half year ago first. It caused the death of several thousand people and tens of thousands ended up in the same situation as he is in now. He was lucky then, in Parangtritis, a village at the southern beach directly south of the city of Yogyakarta, damage was limited. Now however he became one of the victims, but not from an earthquake. It were the 'new colonials' as he describes it. It is a commonly used term to represent a government that is pushing it's own ideas forward not listening to the people they ought to represent.

"New colonials they are They are even worse than the Dutch, because they at least gave us something to eat when we were forced working. Here we don't get anything and all of a sudden they also destroy out houses," tells Kudasi with a slightly raised but still relatively calm voice. The big flood of reporters came here on the 26th, the day that the government rolled in with bulldozers and other heavy equipment to destroy an entire residential area. That is news, but what happens next doesn't really matter, because people are used to seeing that because of all disasters in Indonesia at the moment. He - and several hundred other resident of Parangtritis - done have a house anymore now.

A group of people is sipping tea while they discuss the day in Parangtritis, Yogyakarta province.
A group of people is sipping tea while they discuss the day in Parangtritis, Yogyakarta province.

"The word is that there is a Japanese investor which is planning to build a resort here, like those in Bali," he tells me. "There has never been a plan however where we as residents were also involved in. In the past there were some talks about compensations, but like usual the government stalls the entire show so it ends up in nothing." That strategy seems to work, because somewhat helpless the former residents spend their time in makeshift tents made of plastic and materials that originate from their bulldozed houses. It doesn't look like there is any form of humanity here, just flatten everything all at once. Unfortunately such a strategy usually results into nothing here.

It is not the first time that an investor shows interest in making an investment in a part of the development of Indonesia. It must be the case that some very active civil servants at certain locations must be triggered all of a sudden so they rush in bulldozers to clean the designated area so the investor can start building the next day and the civil servant can fill his or her pockets because those permits are so darn expensive. Adding some more fees is even better, so they all profit from it. In real life it simply doesn't add up like this and that is exactly the fear among the residents here.

Now the houses are demolished, and at some distance there are building activities, but that is another project. The investor here is the local government. On just a little higher ground a number of buildings is constructed which will eventually be used as some kind of tourist market. It seems to be pretty well-planned with streets and a parking lot at some places. That is however, directly along the main road and it just borders the area that has been leveled with violence in the recent days. The only advantage now is that the newly built area has a free view on the beach and the ocean, but if that is so beautiful with debris in the foreground can be taken into doubt of course.

"I can help myself here, but of course I don't hope it will stay like this. The situation is much worse for families with children however. They have become homeless all of a sudden as well. These children need to go to school, baby's have to be fed under a sheet of plastic. I know for sure that I think that is a whole lot worse than my situation to be honest," told Kudasi. He still has his mobile phone and his new motorbike is parked safely under the blue sheet of plastic that is his new home as well. It's not that bad, is it? A motorbike nowadays is the way of moving yourself to places quickly, work for example. But if you have to clean your plastic house and eat together with others there is little time left for working at the end.

Bapak Kudasi invited me to make a walk around the destroyed village which resembled scenes I had earlier seen after the earthquake of 27 May 2006, virtually everything flattened. However it already was hot here at the beach, I wanted to make that walk to shoot some additional pictures. The first blue plastic cover we found was house to two families which were forced to stay under one roof now. Two closets, a gas burner and some little wooden benches was all they were able to salvage from their former house with stone walls. Fortunately there is some money left or some cigarettes and tea. When meeting them I was offered tea directly, like you can expect if you visit someone.

Visiting someone gets a different meaning here, but I was welcomed with very sweet tea with a layer of sugar at the bottom of the glass here as well. There was no ice, the fridge is broken, joked an older man which had the conversation with me. Two women and three other men listened to us in silence until one of them offered me a cigarette. I refused politely, however I like to smoke a 'kretek' cigarette every once in a while. I just didn't see it as appropriate to accept more than that glass of sugared ice tea, above all it was Dji Sam Soe, too strong for me anyway. This live is that they have earned according to the government which has the biggest plans with this estate.

It was the same sad story again that I was told about how they managed to handle themselves in the last few days. In between a joke or two and still a smile on his face when they see that people from outside their community are interested in their story. "The Indonesian press only wants to se sensation," the man tells out loud. That is in fact nothing else but the truth. If there are no victims, no blood or nothing destroyed completely then the press is not there as well. Sensation is what brings in money in Indonesia nowadays. And when I arrive there a few days later to make some pictures I also get the attention from the people there which is more honest than against the press, because they don't help them as well.

On the way back to the 'house' of Kudasi I saw in all sadness a elderly women with a basket on her back moving big bricks. One by one they were brought to a pile which had steadily grown over the last couple of days to the size it had now. By now it was around eleven in the afternoon. The hottest part of the day where the clouds start to form at the still blue sky and the sun is at the highest. My congratulations to the regional government here; they managed to destroy several dozens of houses here "without any feeling for human rights and human dignity" for a plan which is far from worked out at the moment.

Also take a look at the photobook
When live is made impossible



Posted in Culture @ 04 February 2008 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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