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Mudflow victims urge govt to complete payment

Victims of the Sidoarjo mudflow disaster urged the government to speed up compensation payments to them, following a new agreement between them and government representatives last week.

On Tuesday, the victims’ lawyer, Paring Waluyo Utomo, said they were demanding concrete actions to realize the agreement, despite government assurances that the disbursement would be expedited.

Some 25 representatives from 10 villages in Sidoarjo, East Java, came to Jakarta on Friday to seek certainty about the compensation, which has yet to be completed two years after the disaster struck.

The representatives are staying at the National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) headquarters in Menteng, Central Jakarta.

On Friday, they met with Public Works Minister Djoko Kirmanto and representatives from the Social Services Ministry, National Land Agency, PT Lapindo Brantas and PT Minarak Lapindo Jaya, in which the parties drew up a new agreement.

One of the main points in the agreement obliges Lapindo to immediately complete the payment of 20 percent of the required compensation to the victims, whose lands were engulfed by the mudflow.

It also stipulated the remaining 80 percent should be paid before the end of a two-year house leasing arrangement.

“The victims are not satisfied with the promises in the agreement. They want it to be truly realized. Many victims have not received the 20 percent installment, let alone the 80 percent,” Paring said after a press conference at Komnas HAM headquarters.

“We are seeking more support to force the government and Lapindo to finalize this, including from Komnas HAM and the House of Representatives.” He said the victims no longer wanted to deal with PT Lapindo Brantas and PT Minarak Lapindo Jaya and would leave the government to deal with them.

“We can’t force Lapindo (to pay), so we will leave it to the government, which has the power,” he said. He said the victims would monitor the implementation of the agreement at the site.

“We will sue if they fail to comply with it,” Paring said.

The agreement also stipulates the government will provide a clean water facility and build drainage for villagers whose lands were not included in the map of affected zones.

Paring said the villagers also demanded the government immediately issue a revised 2007 presidential instruction that includes all victims in the map, thus entitling them to compensation.

Mahmuda, a victim from Renokenongo village, said the representatives would stay in Jakarta until they had secured the government’s promise to undertake its responsibility toward them.

She also said they wished to meet with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to demand their rights be upheld.

“We don’t know how long we will stay here, but we really expect to meet the President. He is our only hope because he is the one who issued the policy,” she said.

“We want to know how much attention he pays in ensuring our rights are upheld.”

Desy Nurhayati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

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