Release : Civil society denounces Indonesia’s government siding with companies threatening Indigenous Peoples, endangered species and the environment

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by Sergio Baffoni | Jun 4, 2020 | Media Release, Social Responsibilty

https://environmentalpaper.org/2020/06/civil-society-denounces-indonesias-government-siding-with-companies-threatening-indigenous-peoples-endangered-species-and-the-environment/

Jakarta, 4 June 2020 – The National Coalition to Preserve Natural Resources (GN-PSDA) has called on the Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry to stop ignoring the environmental and criminal destruction caused by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), one of the world’s largest paper producers. (1)

The Ministry chose APP as a sponsor of “Indonesia Climate Change & Environment,” an event planned for World Environment Day on 5 June, despite the fact that the company has been threatening Indigenous communities in the Riau and Jambi provinces, where it has pulp extraction concessions. The sponsorship announcement came just days after a Sumatran tiger was found dead in an APP concession.

The Ministry also invited an APP representative to speak at a session dedicated to “Building a New Paradigm and Public Awareness of Local Wisdom.” 

Syahrul Fitra, Communication Director at AURIGA, member of the National Coalition to Preserve Natural Resources (GN-PSDA), said: “Inviting APP to talk about public awareness of local wisdom on a day dedicated to the protection of the environment and biodiversity shows little understanding of the situation. In the last two years, APP and its suppliers have repeatedly risked Indigenous Peoples’ safety and threatened endangered wildlife. If it is serious about protecting Indonesia’s environment and local communities, the government should review this decision.

APP is not the only controversial sponsor of the event: despite wide global consensus about the urgency of phasing out energy from burning coal, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the event is being sponsored by coal mining companies that also control coal power plants in South Sumatra, PT Bukit Asam, PLTU MT Banjarsari, PLTU Bukit Asam, PLTU Sumsel-8. This is in sharp contrast with Indonesia’s declared objective to combat climate change and to preserve the environment.

The National Coalition to Preserve Natural Resources, a group of civil society organizations concerned with the rights of Indigenous Peoples and the protection of the environment, is demanding that the Minister of Environment and Forests:

  1. Cancel any support or sponsorship by APP to all Ministry’s activities;
  2. Stop the Ministry’s partnership with APP and other extractive companies in the organisation of the meeting “Indonesia Climate Change & Environment”  that will be held as a webinar on June 5, 2020;
  3. Stop the criminalisation of Indigenous Peoples and environmental defenders by APP and its affiliated companies;
  4. Investigate in a transparent way the case of the use of pesticides on Indigenous Peoples’ lands;
  5. Investigate cases of tiger deaths in concessions held by APP affiliated companies.
  6. Revoke the permit to pulpwood companies who damage the forest, breach the regulations, violate local communities or indigenous rights and are found associated with the death of endangered species.

A comprehensive mapping done by EPN, together with a coalition of Indonesian NGOs, revealed that APP’s affiliates or suppliers are involved in conflicts with 107 communities in 5 provinces in Indonesia ; West Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, South Sumatra, Jambi and Riau, involving around 350,000 ha of active disputed land and about 2 millions ha of potential lands conflicts.

Contact:

  • Made Ali,  JIKALAHARI, Phone : +6281275311009, Email : madeali26@gmail.com
  • Syahrul Fitra, AURIGA, Phone : +628116611340, Email : syahrul@auriga.or.id

Notes to Editors:

  1. On May 23, 2019, M. Amri, a worker of an APP sister company, PT Riau Indo Agropalma, was found dead in the concession after a tiger attack. On October 24, 2019, Wahyudi, a villager, was also killed by a tiger. These endangered animals are being pushed more and more towards human settlements – and towards extinction – by the rapid expansion of plantations in their habitat. 
  2. On March 4, 2020, APP controlled plantation company PT Wira Karya Sakti (WKS) sent drones to spray herbicides on the community gardens in the village of Lubuk Madrasah, destroying their vegetables in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. Two hectares of rubber, palm and vegetable crops were irremediably damaged. WKS is the same company whose security brutally killed the villagers’ activist Indra Pelani, in March 2015.
  3. On May 18, 2020, the Bengkalis District Court sentenced a member of the Sakai Indigenous community, Mr, Bongku, 58 years old, to one year in prison and a fine of Rp. 200 million. Mr Bongku was denounced by APP controlled PT Arara Abadi, for planting on a half-hectare pulp-fibre plantation that had encroached on his traditional land. 
  4. On May 18, 2020, a Sumatran tiger was found trapped and dead at a pulp plantation operated by APP and controlled by PT Arara Abadi, in the very same area hit by major forest and peat fires in the recent years.