We have been warned that we may have to move out of our office in Jakarta early next week. This is the office that has been leading our campaign to stop Asia Pulp and Paper destroying the rainforests of Indonesia.
But, in this latest attempt to disrupt our work, we’ve been told that we have breached some local building regulations. We’ve got the documents to prove otherwise, but it seems that these may count for little.
Last year, when we started our campaign to end forest destruction by targeting parts of the palm oil industry, we experienced attacks on our work in Indonesia. We saw this as evidence that we have pushed the right buttons. And earlier this year, after we launched our global campaign against the world’s most notorious rainforest destroyer, APP, we again experienced concerted attacks.
But this time, they are bigger, and look much more organised.
We’re a campaigning organization. We expect these negative attacks, and we know that they will always be a risk. As long as we keep campaigning to end rainforests destruction, these attacks will keep happening.
Many civil society organizations here in Indonesia, such as the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation and WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia, along with some reputable public figures, have given us tremendous support. They take these concerted attacks very seriously, because they show the increasing attempts of large, unaccountable corporations to wield influence over our politicians. Together with them we will always fight with the government to stand up for the people and fight against the handful of shortsighted corporate fat cats who want only to make money out of environmental destruction.
It’s interesting to compare our situation in Indonesia right now with some of our previous forest campaigns around the world. We’ve come under this sort of attack before. In the spring of 1997, Greenpeace was referred to as ‘the enemy of British Colombia’, one of the provinces of Canada, for our work against destructive logging in the ‘Great Bear Rainforest’. Ten years later, in 2007, we celebrated an historic conservation agreement, with the Premier of the province, which is today highlighted as a model of cooperation for industry, government, First Nations communities and environmentalists. In September of this year, and the mayor of Vancouver, the largest city in British Columbia, honoured our work through declaring September 15th as ‘Greenpeace Day’.
It may be ten years until we have a similar situation in Indonesia. But, right now, we’re not going to stop campaigning to halt deforestation in Indonesia. We’re going to continue to take on the big corporations who often have huge influence with top bureaucrats and politicians. That’s because these big corporations have been destroying the forests, the habitats of many endangered species, disrupting the livelihoods of local communities who depend on the forests, and triggering social conflicts.
In Indonesia we have a wise quote: “Buruk muka cermin dibelah”. It means: “Instead of fixing your ugly face, you break the mirror.”
Those people who are behind these attacks should fix their face.