Climate defenders to stay; Police reverses eviction order under pressure from communities

Feature story - November 15, 2009
In a surprising move, the chief of police of Pelalawan district revoked an earlier order of Governor of Riau to evict Greenpeace activists participating in the Climate Defenders camp on the threatened Kampar Peninsula and has permitted them to stay following massive support from local communities.

Bustar Maitar mengucapkan terima kasih kepada para warga masyarakat yang datang untuk mendukung Greenpeace untuk tetap tinggal. Suatu kejutan di saat-saat Greenpeace harus meninggalkan kamp karena desakan penjahat huta.

In a day filled with high drama and emotions, over 300 community members of Teluk Meranti village arrived at the camp in the morning to prevent Greenpeace activists from leaving the camp under police escort as per the orders of Riau police.

"We are overwhelmed and humbled by this extraordinary support from the people of Riau, it confirms our belief that the people of Indonesia wish their forests to be protected." said Zulfahmi, of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, " This is a very important signal to President Yudhoyono, that his people are willing to help him honor his ambition to reduce emissions from deforestation. He should take immediate action to prosecute those who are destroying forests, while protecting our forests, biodiversity and the people dependent on them." he added.

Greenpeace opened the camp three weeks ago to bring urgent attention to the role that rainforest and peatland destruction play in driving dangerous climate change in the run up to the critical UN Copenhagen Climate Summit this December.

"We want Greenpeace to stay in this camp as long as possible. Their presence in Semenanjung Kampar is really helping us to protect this forest from destruction," said Suwandi, a school teacher in Teluk Meranti, "If in the future Greenpeace is forced to leave Kampar, we demand that APRIL should also get out of Kampar" he added.

The police action occurred following the Greenpeace unfurling of a huge banner in an area of freshly destroyed rainforest reading "Obama: you can stop this" and other activists locking themselves to seven excavators owned by APRIL.

The 'non-violent direct action' was also intended to remind world leaders, particularly US President Obama who is visiting Asia for the APEC summit, that he has to take decisive action to avert runaway climate change by stopping deforestation and committing to deep and binding emissions reductions at UN Climate summit in Copenhagen in December.

Globally, a million hectares of forests are destroyed every month - that's 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. Greenpeace is calling for an end to deforestation globally by 2020