Indonesian authorities deport Greenpeace activists and members of the press

Media release - November 17, 2009
Greenpeace today condemned the intimidation tactics used by the Indonesian authorities against members of the press as well as Greenpeace activists and local community members who are supporting efforts to prevent forest and climate destruction in the heart of the rainforest.

The Indonesian authorities are in the process of deporting four 'foreign nationals': two Greenpeace activists and two members of the press. (1) Three of the 'foreign nationals' - an Italian journalist from l'Espresso, an Indian journalist from the Hindustan Times and an Italian Greenpeace campaigner - were stopped on Monday, along with two Indonesian Greenpeace campaigners, while observing the devastating effects of deforestation on the side of a public road outside Pekanbaru, Sumatra. They were taken into custody and questioned throughout the night.

The fourth 'foreign national', a Greenpeace activist from Belgium, was detained for questioning at the Greenpeace Climate Defenders' Camp earlier that day. Greenpeace opened the camp in the Indonesian rainforest three weeks ago to highlight the central role that deforestation plays in driving global climate change in the run up to December's critical UN Copenhagen Climate Summit.

According to police, the reasons for the deportation, due to occur in the early hours Wednesday, varies from allegations that the 'foreign nationals' were "about to undertake an illegal activity" to being in "association with illegal activities".

Nur Hidayati, Country Representative for Indonesia, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, said: "Despite having valid travel documents and the correct visas, these people are being deported from Indonesia by the Immigration Authorities on questionable, whimsical and seemingly contrived grounds. They have done nothing wrong."

"Rather than trying to silence Greenpeace and prevent it from helping President Yudhoyono achieve the CO2 emissions cuts he has promised by reducing deforestation, the authorities should be spending their time tackling the companies that are destroying the forest and driving global climate change."

Immigration authorities have already deported eleven international Greenpeace activists who participated in a non-violent direct action at a site of forest and peatland destruction by APRIL, one of Indonesia's largest pulp and paper companies. (2) It also follows an eviction order by police over the weekend in an attempt to shut down the Climate Defenders Camp. The order was revoked after mass protests in support of Greenpeace by local communities. Melanie Laurent, star of Quentin Tarantino's new film, 'Inglourious Basterds', has visited the camp and it has also been supported by Indonesian folk-rock star Iwan Fals. In addition, the US Ambassador to Indonesia visited the area with Greenpeace as the camp was opening.

Globally, a million hectares of forests are destroyed every month - that is an area the size of a football pitch every two seconds. This emits so much CO2 that deforestation is one of the main causes of climate change and is responsible for about a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Indonesia is the world's third largest climate polluter, after China and the United States, largely as a result of emissions from deforestation.

Greenpeace is calling for an end to deforestation globally by 2020 as a key part of the UN climate deal this December.

"We will not be intimidated. We will continue to take action at the frontline of forest and climate destruction and to call on world leaders to avert a climate catastrophe by making far deeper emissions cuts and committing to a fair, ambitious and legally binding deal that includes the funds needed to end global deforestation at December's UN Copenhagen Climate Summit," concluded Hidayati.

Greenpeace is an independent, global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment, and to promote peace.

VVPR info: In Asia: Nur Hidayati, Greenpeace Country Representative, Indonesia: +62 (0) 08129972642 Von Hernandez, Executive Director, Greenpeace Southeast Asia (In Manila):+63 9175263050 Hikmat Soeritanuwijaya, Media Campaigner - Greenpeace Southeast Asia: +62 (0) 818930271 In Europe: Belinda Fletcher, Greenpeace International forest campaigner: +44 (0) 7801212991 Photos, B roll and a video feature package are available from: Maarten van Rouveroy, Greenpeace International video producer: +31 (0) 646197322 John Novis, Greenpeace International photography: +44 (0) 7801 615 889 Notes to editors: (1) Press release 17 November, ‘Reporters Without Borders’: http://www.rsf.org/spip.php?page=article&id_article=35023 (2) On Thursday, several Greenpeace activists unfurled a huge banner in an area of freshly destroyed rainforest that read: “Obama: you can stop this”, while others locked themselves to seven digging machines owned by pulp and paper company, Asia Pacific Resource International Holdings (APRIL), to prevent it destroying the forest and draining the carbon rich forest peat soil in order to grow plantations. For further information please visit: http://www.greenpeace.org/climatedefenders Background media briefing on Indonesia’s forests and climate change is available at: www.greenpeace.org/climatedefenders/rainforests-and-climate-change.