Signature for a just decision on the Kotopanjang Dam
In 1996, with a fund of 31.2 billion yen from the Japanese ODA (Official Development Assistance), the construction of the
Kotopanjang dam in Sumatra, Indonesia entailed the forcible displacement of about 5,000 households, or 23,000 residents,
to barren lands, where even water can hardly be obtained. It led to the destruction of the indigenous culture they, the
Minangkabau people, had inherited from their ancestors, such as communal lands called "Tanah Ulayat" and traditional
gathering places called "Rumah Gadang".
On September 5, 2002, 3861 displaced residents sued the Japanese government, JBIC (Japan Bank for International
Cooperation), JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), and TEPSCO (Tokyo Electric Power Services Co., Ltd.) at
the Tokyo District Court. On March 28, 2003, with the second filing of the lawsuit, the plaintiffs were joined by additional
residents, totalling as many as 8396. At the same time, WALHI (Indonesia Environment Forum) took part in the struggle as a
plaintiff on behalf of the natural ecosystem.
The residents demanded that the defendants recommend the Indonesian government and PLN (Indonesia Electricity
Corporation) to decommission the dam and restore the original conditions before the dam construction as well as to pay five
million yen to each of the plaintiffs as damages. WALHI demanded the redemption of about five million yen spent for their
environmental conservation activities in the area. However, on September 10, 2009, the court made an unfair decision in
favor of the defendants, turning blind eyes to the destruction of residents' livelihoods and the environment in the area.
The plaintiffs immediately appealed to a higher court, expressing their determination to fight against the injustice to the
"No more wasteful public works such as dams" is now a common public opinion. We demand the Tokyo High Court to
annul the 2009 judgement by the Tokyo District Court and make a fair decision that prevents further destruction of plaintiffs'
livelihoods and the environment.
To: Presiding judge of the Kotopanjang dam trial at the Tokyo High Court
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