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JAVA – An Indonesian textile mill which allegedly polluted communities close to its site in Surakarta, Central Java is facing the wrath of 100 lawyers who are preparing criminal and civil lawsuits on behalf of local residents. The lawyers, working under the auspices of the Indonesian Advocates Association, are calling for an investigation into alleged pollution by PT Rayon Utama Makmur (RUM).

The Semarang Legal Aid Institute (LBH) has previously supported local people detained by the Central Java Police over their protests against alleged pollution committed by PT RUM. The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) and the Surakarta Muhammadiyah University’s (UMS) legal division have also said they will give legal assistance to protesters.

In late February, several protestors were arrested by the police over their alleged involvement in the destruction of assets belonging to PT RUM in retaliation for the alleged pollution of local communities.

“We prepared 100 lawyers to file a lawsuit against PT RUM. We have data support from Walhi and UMS’ investigation team,” Indonesian Advocates Association chairman Badrus Zaman told local reporters.

He added that there were two procedures lawyers could use to submit their lawsuits – a class action or via Walhi. “In principle, we want to ask the government to share responsibilities in the management of environment that has been affected by industrial pollution,” said Badrus.

The Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, recently announced plans for new regulations to make it easier to prosecute textile facilities found to be polluting Indonesia’s Citarum River. The river, regularly cited as one of the most polluted waterways in the world, has hundreds of textile mills and dyeing houses along its banks. A number of mills along the river have been closed in recent months, however, violation of local environmental regulations is an ongoing issue.

Note: the image here, from Wikipedia, shows the Citarum River, one of the most polluted waterways in the world.

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