Religions unite in aid of the Porong mudslide victims
Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Leaders of various religions have united in an expression of solidarity for the victims of the boiling mudslide which buried the area of Porong, in eastern Java last year, and the homeless who are still awaiting compensation. August 23rd representatives of the provincial inter-religious Forum organised prayer meetings and a conference Pasar Baru refugee camp in Porong. Their aim: to encourage the population to have courage and to push ahead with their fight for justice. “It is our duty to help these people” Fr. Luluk Widyawan, parish priest of Porong told AsiaNews.
In the period running from the end of May to November 2006, boiling hot mud poured from a fracture which had damaged the Lapindo Brantas Inc oil well. The company was sounding for natural gas reserves in the area. The mud buried 8 villages – all declared inhabitable by Jakarta – and covered at least 1810 homes, 20 farms, paddy fields, 18 schools and 2 mosques forcing the evacuation of 12 thousand people. It is believed that the company had not respected safety standards; the managers have defended themselves by pointing to the May 27th 2006 earthquake in Yogyakarta, maintaining that the underground tremor created the fracture.
P. Widyawan tells that at the August 23 saw the coming together many members of local NGO’s and hundreds of people affected by the ecological disaster. The initiative was part of the All People’s Lapindo Brantas Victims Movement to fight for justice, which also involves numerous representatives of the various religions with the aim of “reigniting” the authority’s moral values. The parish priest explains “The issue is about morality, since Lapindo Brantas had previously agreed that all victims would be given financial package of compensation for the property and belongings lost; but there has been a radical change of the scheme: Lapindo Brantas with the help of the government has manipulated the scheme into an agreement of selling property to the oil company. So that many victims find themselves forced to sell out to the company, often at ridiculous prices”.
The 50 religious leaders present at the meeting are now asking authorities that “every single government intervention in the issue has the best interest of the victims at heart”.