This new report ‘Solidarity Calls for Kulon Progo Farmers against Airport and Airport City’ about farmers’ resistance against eviction for New Yogyakarta International Airport (NYIA) gives many insights into one of Indonesia’s key land rights struggles. An ‘airport city’ or aerotropolis is planned around the new airport, comprising shopping malls, hotels and industrial zones, increasing the land area to 2,000 hectares. The site, in Kulon Progo on the south coast of Java, comprises six villages with 11,501 residents and resistance against eviction for the airport dates back to 2011.
Farmers have worked hard for many generations to increase the fertility of the land, establishing successful farms and thriving communities. If they are evicted from their farmland many thousands of agricultural labourers will also lose their livelihoods. The megaproject was approved without the requisite Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and there are serious concerns over destruction of sand dunes which act as a bulwark protecting from coastal erosion and tsunamis and prevention salinization of groundwater.
The airport plan has divided the community. Many citizens have refused to sell their land for the airport, whilst some are willing to sell their land for compensation. It is thought that supporters of the airport have worked to widen the social, economic and political rifts, which serves to facilitate the project. Resistance to land acquisition has met with state intimidation, repression and criminalization with four farmers being imprisoned. Residents have formed a new organization opposing the airport, Paguyuban Warga Penolak Penggusuran Kulon Progo (PWPP-KP), which is allied with an organization of neighbouring farmers resisting sand mining, and is supported by many citizens and environmental activist groups.