Greenpeace activists assaulted during palm oil protest in Southeast Asia

July 6, 2010

Greenpeace activists were brutally kicked and punched yesterday morning after they led a peaceful protest at the headquarters of Indonesia’s largest logging and palm oil company, the Sinar Mas Group, in Jakarta. Greenpeace is demanding a halt to continuing destruction of Indonesia’s last remaining ancient forests by the company. The forests are vital in the fight to stop the worst effects of climate change.

Twenty-five Greenpeace activists chained themselves at the entrance to the Sinar Mas building, and Greenpeace climbers deployed a huge banner to brand Sinar Mas as a “Forest and Climate Criminal.” Police then arrived at the scene and removed the activists.

“The excessive violence today by Sinar Mas security is testament to the way this company does business. Sinar Mas may think they are above the law, but the right to peaceful protest is enshrined in Indonesian constitution,” said Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest campaigner. “We took action because Sinar Mas and the Indonesian Government are failing to do so. We are facing the greatest threat to humanity==climate chaos==yet companies like Sinar Mas continue to destroy rainforests and peatlands rather than protecting them for future generations.

”Greenpeace has been monitoring Sinar Mas operations in Riau Province, Sumatra, West Kalimantan and Papua over the past years and has recently gathered fresh evidence of Sinar Mas Group’s ongoing destruction in these areas. Sinar Mas is also poised for massive expansion as they hold unplanted concession areas totaling another 770 square miles of Indonesian rainforest and have plans to acquire a further 4200 square miles, mainly in Papua. Furthermore, human rights organizations have raised serious concerns following the heavy handed repression of community protests against Asia Pulp & Paper (or APP, owned by Sinar Mas) in Suluk Bongkal, Riau at the end of last year.

“Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is saying internationally that he will reduce Indonesia’s greenhouse gas emissions, yet Sinar Mas continue their forest destruction unabated. If he is serious about Indonesia being a global leader in solving the climate crisis, he must take immediate action to stop this company destroying Indonesia’s greatest asset­ carbon rich forests and peatland,” urged Maitar.

Greenpeace is calling for an immediate halt to all expansion into forests and peatland by Sinar Mas and other companies. Further, they are calling on the Indonesian government to immediately implement a moratorium on any further forest conversion. This will not only help curb the country’s greenhouse gas emissions, and safeguard the wealth of endangered species in the region such as the orangutan, and Sumatran tiger. In addition, it will help protect the future of forest dependent communities all across Indonesia.

The Indonesian government needs to take action to protect the nation’s people from the impacts of climate change through reducing Indonesia’s emissions by 75 percent by 2012 and pushing industrialized countries to pay for this reduction in deforestation as well as cutting their own emissions dramatically.

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VVPR info: Daniel Kessler, Greenpeace Press Officer, cell: (970) 690-2728; email: dkessler@greenpeace.org Rolf Skar, Greenpeace USA Forest Campaigner; 415.255.9221 x305; email: rolf.skar@greenpeace.org

Notes: Photos available at http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/en/news/sinarmas_axn?content%5ftype%5fkey=image&mode=related%2ditems

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