Violence and arrests in Wada village, Central Java – Residents are against government’s mining operations

On 8 February 2022, around 250 joint military and police officers surrounded Wadas Village, Bener District, Purworejo Regency, Central Java Province. Wadas is currently a controversial spot since the government has mining plans in the village, which the villagers oppose. The joint, military and police action soon led to a violent clash with the residents. The authorities ill-treated and arbitrarily arrested dozens.  They were detained at the Purworejo Resort Police Station until 9 February.

The actions are closely related to the national strategic project (PSN) Dam in Purworejo Regency, Central Java. The project will supply water to the Yogyakarta International Airport. The project’s construction requires the supply of andesite rocks as construction material, and the government will fulfil the need for andesite stones by mining in Wadas Village. 

Julian Dwi Prasetya, the lawyer for the residents of Wadas Village, said that the authorities arrested 64 residents during the incident. Even though the security forces said their job was only to accompany 70 BPN and Agriculture Office officials who would be measuring and counting crops. “64 people were arrested, and we are representing 54,” Julian said. Some of the arrested residents experienced acts of violence from the authorities. “Some were treated cruelly during the arrest,” Julian said. 

Reasons for Community Resistance

They rejected the mining plan because they worried it would damage 28 water sources for the villagers. Damage to water sources will result in damage to agricultural land. There is a “Stop the Andesite Mining Plan in Wadas Village” petition page from the Wadas community and a lot of social media campaigning.

In addition to residents losing their livelihood as artisanal miners, there is also concern that Wadas Village will become more prone to landslides. Moreover, based on the Regional Regulation on the Regional Spatial Plan of Purworejo Regency 2011-2031, the Bener District, including Wadas Village, is part of a landslide-prone area.

The mining project in Wadas Village is a quarry or open pit mining (dredged without residue) that is planned to run for 30 months. The rock mining is carried out by drilling, dredging, and blasting using 5,300 tons of dynamite or 5,280,210 kilograms, to a depth of 40 meters. The andesite rock quarry in Wadas Village targets 15.53 million cubic meters of andesite rock material for the construction of the Bener Dam. If that happens, the village’s landscape will be lost and its ecosystem damaged, according to the Indonesian Forum for the Environment. (Walhi).

Violence against lawyers 

Zainal Arifin, Head of the Advocacy Division of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), said that several lawyers from the Legal Aid Institute who accompanied the residents of Wadas Village were attacked by unknown people. 

The attacks occurred when several lawyers from LBH wanted to enter Wadas village to monitor the residents’ condition. “When the police came (to Wadas), lawyers from LBH wanted to enter the village to see the situation and (provide) legal assistance. But then, at the entrance to the village, there were police and other parties. Then a group of people in plainclothes conducted beatings,” said Zaenal.

Komnas HAM’s findings

One of the conclusions reached by Komnas HAM is the excessive use of power by the Central Java Police on the residents of Wadas Village. According to Komnas HAM’s investigation, there was a large deployment of personnel and acts of violence in the arrest process. Komnas HAM Commissioner Beka Ulung Hapsara on 24 February 2022 said, based on Komnas HAM’s investigation, that the Central Java Regional Police had deployed 250 personnel when the incident occurred. Acts of violence were dominated by officers wearing civilian clothes or thugs.

As a result of the violent arrests by the authorities, several residents suffered injuries to their foreheads, knees and calves. However, none of the victims was hospitalised. Komnas HAM concluded that the rights of citizens arrested by the police had been neglected. Among them is the denial of access to information and legal assistance when arrested. Not only that, but the repressive actions of the police also traumatised Wadas residents, especially women and children. Some residents did not dare to return home until 4-5 days after the incident.

Komnas HAM has recommended that the Central Java Provincial Government seek trauma recovery or trauma healing to overcome the trauma of Wadas Villagers. Komnas HAM has also received a commitment from the Central Java Police Chief to sanction perpetrators of violence.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Wadas village (-7.628320629216709, 110.07779658317057)
administrative region: Indonesia, Central Java Province, Purworejo Regency, Bener District, Wadas Village
total number of victims: dozens
period of incident: 08.02.2022
perpetrator: police, other security forces
perpetrator details: 250 joint military and police officers
Issues: arbitrary detention, freedom of expression, ill-treatment
Sources:, Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolation
64unknownunknownunknownactivistarbitrary detention, freedom of expression, ill-treatment   
unknownunknownunknownunknownlawyer, HRDill-treatment