Transparency Crucial to Prevent Forest Fires; FOI Case Aims to End Map Secrecy

Press release - November 12, 2015
Jakarta, 12 Nov 2015 — Greenpeace accompanied by public interest lawyers today announced a legal case demanding the government make public detailed digital maps of who controls Indonesia’s forest areas. Greenpeace’s official request to put this crucial information into the public domain under the Freedom of Information law began on 8 September 2015, and after an initial refusal and subsequent appeal, may run as far as the Supreme Court. Greenpeace also introduced on Thursday a number of public figures who are supporting the transparency push.[1]

Teguh Surya, forest campaigner at Greenpeace Indonesia said,

“Indonesia is currently trying to recover from months of devastating fires and toxic smoke haze. Everyone, including the president, acknowledges this was triggered by widespread forest clearing and peatland drainage for plantations. Public support for the “Kepo itu Baik” (Curiosity is Good) movement shows that Indonesians from public figures to thousands of ordinary people understand they have the right to know what is happening to their forests. Yet the government still refuses our request to release the maps in the digital form needed to analyse which companies are profiting from ongoing forest clearing and peat draining that makes each year’s fires worse than the last.”

Refusing to accept the government’s refusal, Greenpeace is pleased to announce that noted public interest law firm Widjojanto, Sonhaji & Associates have signed on as advocates in this FOI case. Lawyer Iskandar Sonhaji, S.H. said, “We will pursue these maps, as far as the nation’s highest court, if needs be, because the public has the right to know who controls land in Indonesia. Millions of people were impacted by months of smoke this year — they have the right to this information which is crucial to ensuring we don’t see a repeat of this year’s devastating fires.

Indonesia has a serious problem with corruption in forest-based industries. The KPK reports that the nation has about lost $9 billion over the past decade due to illegal operations in forests.[2] As the saying goes, ‘sunlight is the best disinfectant’ - these maps are key to combating corruption through transparency,” said Iskandar.

Concerned about the impacts of the fires, last month Faried M. Badjeber and Ahmad Afandi of rock band Boomerang travelled with Greenpeace to Central Kalimantan, and bore witness to the human suffering and environmental destruction. Vocalist and guitarist for Boomerang, Ahmad Afandi (Andi Babas) said,

“Over the years we’ve enjoyed touring across the country. But our tour of the forest and peat fires heartland was something else entirely. We’ve never seen such tragic and unnecessary suffering. All of us owe a debt to this land that raised us, to look after it, its people and its irreplaceable forests and wildlife. Being Kepo is a good thing, when it’s what’s needed to turn the tide of forest destruction.”

Notes for editors:

[1] These include musicians Boomerang, Ballads of the Cliche, Kedai Santai, Rayhan and The DayDreamers; writers, public commentators and other public figures such as DJ Ninda Felina (@nindafelina), Trinity (@trinitytraveler), Mia Ismi (@miaismi), Jui Purwoto (@juipurwoto), Nyimas Laula (@nyimaslaula), Danar Triatmojo (@danartriatmojo), Renata Owen (@renataowen); and digital collaborators KokBisa, Beritagar.id, Selasar.com, Festivo, Movio and Anatman Pictures.

[2] See http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/09/indonesia-forests-kpk-idUSL3N1280PE20151009#8qLDlHZEdA6Oh84H.97

Media contacts:

Teguh Surya, Forests Campaigner, Greenpeace Indonesia, 081915191979

Igor O’Neill, International Media, Greenpeace Indonesia Forests Campaign. +62-8111-923721

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