April 16: Surabaya, East Java. Thousands of residents affected by the Lapindo mudflow blockaded the railway, stormed the governor’s office and clashed with police in a protest about delays in compensation from the company that caused the mudflow.
Thousands of families lost their land when a mud volcano erupted in May 2006. The eruption was caused by the blowout of a natural gas well drilled by PT Lapindo Brantas, although company officials contend it was caused by a distant earthquake. It is now the biggest mud volcano in the world. People are angry about a delay in compensation payments promised them by Minarak Lapindo Jaya, the holding company for the gas drilling firm.
Protesters at the East Java governor’s office demanded that high-ranking officials come out and meet them. When officials refused, protestors forced their way into the governor’s building and threw stones and bottles at the police officers.
The demonstration’s main orator, speaking through a loudspeaker, tried to get people to simmer down: “Let’s not get provoked. We’re here to hold a peaceful rally. Don’t do anything anarchic. Calm down.”
Instead of following his instructions, however, the protesters started hurling projectiles at him, too.Trying to regain control of the situation, the police fired water cannons and tear gas at the angry crowd.
Before the rally, protestors blocked access to Jalan Raya Porong. They also blocked the railway in front of the Sidoarjo Mudflow Mitigation Agency (BPLS) post, causing a traffic jam of 2 kilometers.
Lapindo is a subsidiary of the Bakrie Group, whose main patron, Aburzial Bakrie, is running for president in 2014.