Alive and kicking in Indonesia
by Guest Blogger
November 15, 2011
Since our office was threatened with closure by the South Jakarta district authority last week, our staff pulled out all the stops to keep the office open. We have had great support from Indonesian civil society leaders who see this attack on Greenpeace as an attack on the rights of the wider movement. We have worked closely with other organisations like Indonesia’s Legal Aid Foundation and WALHI/FoE Indonesia to get clarity from the government about the situation. We have also provided the government with the paperwork that proves our legal registration to operate in Indonesia. and our building use permit, approved by the local sub-district and our landlord.
Our meetings with government officials over the past days have been friendly and our explanations have been welcomed. They said that they were not specifically targeting us; rather, it was part of their drive to improve enforcement of building use regulations in the wider area.
Of course, given our recent experiences of attempts to disrupt our work because of the pressure we’re putting on companies like APP, who are destroying Indonesia’s forest for toilet paper, we take this with a pinch of salt. We support government efforts to improve urban management, but it does appear that we were being singled out – despite having the right paperwork.
National media on the morning of November 14th carried stories about how the South Jakarta authorities would come to seal’ our office between 10-12 o’clock. Our staff had quickly prepared for the worst-case scenario, and we had taken up some of the generous offers we’d received for temporary accommodation to ensure that Greenpeace had a base to continue its operations in Jakarta although we can work from pretty much anywhere.
While some staff focused on preparing our office for the expected closure, the rest of us continued our campaign work over the weekend in several different parts of Indonesia, including running a workshop in Central Sumatra (Riau Province) with a local partner NGO, to support palm oil smallholder efforts to increase productivity.
We also ran a citizen’s journalism workshop in Bandung, West Java, for local communities living on the banks of one of the world’s most polluted rivers (Citarum River) to equip them with the skills to report industrial toxic pollution.
And we celebrated the government’s decision to postpone the construction of a nuclear power plant on Bangka island (between Java and Sumatra) with local groups and communities, and told heads of ASEAN countries ahead of this week’s ASEAN Summit in Bali “Don’t Nuke ASEAN!’
So, on Monday morning, following a very busy weekend of preparations and activities, we waited at the Greenpeace office for the officials to come and close us down but they did not come.
We held a short press conference in front of the office for the many assembled media, explaining the situation and emphasising that we had been cooperating with officials and had complied with all local and national regulations. We also said that we were planning to move in six months anyway, to more suitable premises. The journalists then continued to another press conference down the road at the District offices, where officials told the press that we’d cooperated and that they would give us the extra time to move.
On this occasion we have disappointed the people who want to silence us in Indonesia those who desperately want Greenpeace to stop campaigning. They should know by now that they will never stop us publicising their destruction of this beautiful nation’s last remaining forests, because we are fighting for a future for Indonesia’s people and are directly supporting President Yudhoyono’s commitment to stop deforestation by the end of his presidential term in 2014.
Those who try to stop us should just divert their energy to cleaning up their act instead.
Nur Hidayati (Yaya) is an Indonesia Country Rep for Greenpeace Southeast Asia
Photo: Nuclear Power Plant Protest in Indonesia, 13 November 2011.