This article was co-produced with The Gecko Project. Serene, prosperous, fertile. These words come to mind as I stand at the top of a hill in Tegaldowo village, on the island of Java, in Indonesia, one Sunday evening in 2019. It is an idiom used to describe this giant island, with its rich soils, verdant rice paddies and teak forests. But the tranquility hides a more turbulent story. Across Indonesia, the world’s third largest democracy, mass demonstrations have erupted. Some 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) to the east, anger at decades of mistreatment of indigenous Papuans has spilled over into violence. In the capital, Jakarta, students are taking to the streets in their thousands, protesting against a raft of new laws many fear will erode civil liberties. Among the most contentious features of the new legislation is concern that it will enable the government to criminalize farmers and activists fighting against extractive companies taking their land. Already, hundreds of communities are locked in simmering conflicts with firms that have logged their forests, mined their mountains, and transformed their farmland into plantations. Many of these people once hoped that the president, Joko Widodo, would tip the scales in the favor of the powerless. But in the coming months those hopes will be dashed. By November 2020, the government will sign into effect sweeping new legislation that appears to entrench the power of oligarchs, and of the private firms responsible for damaging the nation’s environment, including its vast rainforests. For many communities engaged…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer