Rainbow Warrior success in Indonesia

Illegal log vessel expelled thanks to local action

Feature story - 24 February, 2004
Thanks to the Rainbow Warrior's persistence in monitoring the waters in Central Kalimantan, the Indonesian Navy has today expelled an illegal log vessel owned by the Vietnamese government.

Activists circle the Vietnamese vessel, Ha Tihn 06 with a banner reading - stop forest crime - Greenpeace assisted the Indonesian Navy to expel the vessel, as part of a blockade in Central Kalimantan that has been ongoing for 10 days.

The Ha Tinh 06, owned by the Vietnamese government and registered in Haiphong, had been waiting to load in the Kumai Bay area for 10 days, but has been prevented from loading thanks to our sustained presence in the area. Central Kalimantan is notorious for illegal logging, and the power and violence of the timber mafia.

Andrew our web editor on the Rainbow Warrior explains how t he action unfolded: "We've been quietly dogging the Vietnamese flagged Ha Tinh for the last 10 days. We first found the freighter trying to get a pilot (guide) for the Kumai River. There's not much to load up the Kumai except illegal logs and timber from unlicensed sawmills. The Ha Tinh is a good-sized ship that could hold more than a million dollars (US) worth of illegal logs.

"For four days the Vietnamese government owned Ha Tinh called over and over by radio for a pilot. They were ignored - we suspect because everyone knew the Rainbow Warrior was in the area, which made the Ha Tinh too hot to deal with. Finally though, the Ha Tinh went up the river. Then, after a few days, it came back down the river, and returned to anchor (empty). But two days later it went back up the river."

To try and find out what the Vietnamese boat was doing a spotter plane was hired to fly up the river, find out what was going on and to gather evidence. The plane found the Ha Tinh, hatches open, docked at a yard full of squared off logs, which are illegal for export.

This is in direct contravention of an Indonesian Ministerial Decree. We sent the photographic evidence taken from the plane to the Minister of Forests, who urged the navy to intervene. This action resulted in today's win as there was soon an Indonesian navel ship in the area.

"This morning - with a patrol ship in tow - the Rainbow Warrior returned to Kumai Bay, we launched our boats, radioed the Ha Tinh, began driving in circles around the freighter and generally raised a ruckus," explains Andrew

"What followed was a conversation between the navy ship and the Ha Tinh. At this point we backed the Rainbow Warrior off. The navy boarded the Ha Tinh, and later ordered them out of Indonesian waters.One freighter sent home empty won't save Indonesia's forests, but today did show that it is possible to stop the timber mafia."

Currently Indonesia and Vietnam have no bilateral agreement in order to combat the illegal timber trade. Options are available to them to open up and conclude an agreement under the Forest Law Enforcement and Governance process.

The extent of the illegal logging in this region is massive. We are calling on the international community and their law enforcement agencies, to swiftly make inroads to end the destruction. In particular the Indonesian regional police need to enforce the law of Indonesia.

More information

Check out the narrated slide show of the aerial photos taken by the Rainbow Warrior crew up the Lamandau River

Check out the live weblog from the Rainbow Warrior, on forest patrol in Indonesia.

Check out the live weblog from the Arctic Sunrise, on forest patrol in Patagonia.

Take Action

Become a Forest Guardian