Opinion

The power of tourism in Urutsewu

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For some people, tourism is an activity for leisure. For some others, it is a way to escape from reality. Considering the problems it creates, tourism is an industry that has many topics left to discuss with a lot of such perspectives as ecological, economical, cultural and even political. Basically, we can draw our understanding on this phenomenon depends on the context. For those who have been skeptical with the practice of tourism because of the destruction it creates, the experience of tourism practice in Setrojenar, Urutsewu, would give us another insight.

The people in Setrojenar used to live in harmony with the nature before the Indonesian Army started to set Setrojenar into defense area, in which they rehearse and conduct weapon test. Setrojenar is a village located in Urutsewu coastal area in the southern part of Kebumen, Central Java. In this village, we can meet peasant community who fight for their life against Indonesian Army. And in the last two years, the conflict between civilian and soldier have been more intense. It is stimulated by the tragedy happened in April the 16th 2011, when four civilians were shot dead and other civilians were tortured. Since Indonesian army entered in the area and started to rehearse and conduct weapon tests, the people get annoyed. Five children died after the artillery mortar they found exploded. Peasants got hurt after the army tried to conduct weapon test.
In 1981, Indonesian army started to build infrastructure for the department of research and development of the land component of the Indonesian National Armed Forces. At the beginning, there was no conflict between army and civilian. The conflict began when the army started to rehearse and conduct weapon test. Besides, the location of the rehearsal is nearby the land in which the people usually plant and farm.
The social conflict in Setrojenar is caused by the army supported by the government. Setrojenar is a village located in Buluspesantren sub district in Kebumen Regency, Central Java. Beside Buluspesantren, such other areas in Kebumen regency as Mirit and Ambal are also in conflict. Mirit, Ambal and Buluspesantren sub districts are included into Urutsewu coastal area. The local government has arranged Urutsewu area for iron mining industry. They have released a letter of permission for ten years mining industry.

The mining industry has operated in 10 hectares of the land included into Urutsewu coastal area. People who live in Urutsewu area mostly work as farmers. They have cultivated the land for many years. For the people, being farmer doesn’t only mean to fulfill material needs, but also for spiritual needs. For them, agriculture has been a way of life, a way to live with the nature. The agriculture activity of the people doesn’t go in line with the activity of mining industry. And the people have realized that the activity of mining industry would produce terrible damage for the environment. For these reasons, the people have decided to defend and maintain their way of life that lives in harmony with the nature. For these reasons the people have to confront the mining industry. For them there is no better way than social movement and resistance with the power of solidarity.

In Setrojenar, in order to get their power back over their land, the people have started to develop tourism area on the beach. They have built a permanent gateway that mark the tourism area, they built food stalls and even swimming pool along the beach, to avoid people and especially children swimming in the beach since it is dangerous. At the beginning, the construction process of the gateway also raised conflict, but nowadays, thousands of people spend their holidays in there. During holidays, we can see many children with full of cheerful expression. The children can swim or just play around, enjoy some snacks or even eat in a food stall. The food price is affordable. People who spend the time in there don’t have to spend a lot of money. They just need to pay for the parking area since there is no entrance fee.

The development of the tourism area is a way to defend and reclaim the land that side by side with the struggle of peasant community.

Since some areas of Setrojenar is possible to cultivate, but some other areas are not. The area which is not possible to cultivate, which is very close to the coast is developed for friendly tourism. Those who spend their holiday in Setrojenar indirectly support the occupation done by the people. Being tourist in Setrojenar means supporting the community struggle to reclaim their land over the Army who brings many consequences people don’t like. The story of reclaiming doesn’t only belong to the people in Setrojenar. It also belongs to the people, who live in other villages included into Urutsewu coastal area, who have to struggle against land grabbing.
Spending time in Setrojenar beach is of course not the best way to escape from reality since the reality has been clearer in front of our face. The reality of conflict and on the other side is the story of solidarity. In brief, tourism is another term of solidarity in Setrojenar. Setrojenar is probably not the most beautiful beach on earth, but the story and the spirit of the people around, IS the beauty that lives and inspires us.

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