Human rights award for anti-cement activists

Protest against HeidelbergCement on December 8, 2017 Honor for nature defenders: Yap Thiam Hien Human Rights Award for environmental activists in Indonesia (© Dewi Candraningrum)

Jan 9, 2019

The renowned Yap Thiam Hien Human Rights Award 2018 will go to the “Friendly Minded” activist community that is resisting the destruction of the Kendeng karst mountains by multinational cement companies, and Eva Bande, who is working to stop mining and oil palm companies on Sulawesi.

For years, the community of the “Friendly Minded” have worked tirelessly to stop the cement industry from destroying their homeland – going on long marches, protesting in front of the presidential palace and the German embassy in Jakarta, and taking legal action against multinational cement companies. One activist, Gunarti, even traveled to the shareholder meeting of HeidelbergCement in Heidelberg, Germany, and put in an impassioned plea for the company not to destroy the Kendeng karst mountains on Java.

Now, the work of the community has been honored with the Yap Thiam Hien Human Rights Award. “They have made a major contribution toward protecting the environment. They are honored for helping to preserve Mother Earth,” said jury member Yosep Stanley at the awards ceremony in Jakarta.

With their commitment to nonviolent action to protect nature against destructive corporations and corrupt politicians, the “Friendly Minded” have become role models for others similarly impacted.

They share the prize with Eva Bande from Sulawesi, an activist who is standing up against land grabbing, violence and rainforest destruction by palm oil and mining companies. Eva Bande spent four years in prison for her resistance. She is one of numerous environmental activists who are increasingly being criminalized, harassed and put behind bars.

The award of the Yap Thiam Hien Human Rights Prize to Sedulur Sikep and Eva Bande is a signal against land grabbing, environmental destruction and the resulting conflicts between people and corporations. 

Like our partner JATAM, Eva Bande is fighting the destruction of Sulawesi by mining and sand excavation. You can support them by signing this petition.