Suspected Arson Burns Greenpeace Camp in Indonesia

by Rolf Skar

April 12, 2010

Just as illegal fires are used to slash and burn the Paradise Forests of southeast Asia to make way for palm oil and tree plantations, a suspected arson fire was used to burn the Greenpeace Climate Defender’s Camp in Indonesia’s Kampar Peninsula yesterday.

A gathering place for community members and international forest advocates alike, here is what the Climate Defenders Camp looked like before the suspected arson blaze:

Climate Defenders Camp before blaze

Please support Greenpeace activists and community volunteers in Indonesia by standing up to violence and intimidation, and saying no to deforestation and peatland destruction. Take action and share this story with others. International attention is needed to protect the safety of forest advocates working on the front lines to save Paradise.

This incident shows that when growing demand for commodities like palm oil is not paired with corporate responsibility, greed, corruption and violence can flourish alongside rainforest destruction. This suspected act of arson also underscores the importance of companies like Nestle — the ultimate users of commodities that are driving Paradise forest destruction — cleaning up their supply chains and being vocal advocates for comprehensive political solutions. Even if you’ve sent a message before, take a minute to tell Nestle that we need rainforest and peatland protection now!

A press release from the Greenpeace Paradise Forest team in Indonesia is below. You can also read more from the Jakarta Post here.

Climate Defenders Camp Burned

Greenpeace will continue fight for Kampar Protection despite camp burning down

Jakarta, 12 April 2010: Greenpeace today stated that the burning down of the Climate Defenders Camp in Riau’s Kampar Peninsula this weekend will not stop it from campaigning with the local community to stop the destruction of the area’s forests and carbon-rich peatlands. The Climate Defenders Camp was built in October 2009 with community help in the run up to the Copenhagen climate summit to highlight the cost of forest destruction to the climate, local communities and biodiversity.

“The fire which has partially destroyed the camp is a set back but we are now more committed than ever to helping the local community fight the destruction of the Kampar. We are redoubling our efforts to save Indonesia’s environment and make sure that the forests and peatlands of Kampar Peninsular Forests are fully protected,” said Bustar Maitar, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Forest Campaign Team Leader.

The fire broke out in the early hours of Sunday morning and flames were spotted by villagers across the Kampar river in Teluk Meranti. The fire severely damaged the main hall and prayer room but there were no injuries. Initial investigations by the local police indicate that the fire was started deliberately. Greenpeace has reported the case to Riau Province Police Headquarters, urging them to investigate the case seriously and rapidly,” added Bustar.

The Kampar peninsula is one of the largest peatland areas in the world and is under threat of destruction from pulp-and paper companies APRIL and APP. The camp has been visited by a host of international guests, like the US ambassador to Indonesia and French movie star Melanie Laurent. In November, using the camp as base, Greenpeace took action against the ongoing clearance of peatlands by APRIL, blocking the company’s excavators and exposing the company’’s illegal activities. Not long thereafter, Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan ordered APRIL to stop clearing practices in the area, while their permits where under investigation.

The people of Teluk Meranti have been very supportive of the Greenpeace campaign and have organised a thousand-signature petition to reject the expansion of APRIL into the forests in the Kampar. “We need Greenpeace to help us protect the forest against the company because the company has everything — money, power, and political influence" said Pak Yusuf, Teluk Meranti community leader.

The Greenpeace campaign will not stop until the Kampar is fully protected. “We welcome President Yudhoyono’s statement last week that asked NGO’s like Greenpeace to work together with the government to save Indonesia’s environment. As a first step, we urge the President to immediately implement a moratorium on deforestation and peatland destruction,” Maiter concluded.

Climate Defenders Camp Damage

Rolf Skar

By Rolf Skar

Rolf Skar is the Campaigns Director at Greenpeace USA. Since 2007, Rolf has contributed to international Greenpeace campaigns to stop deforestation in the Canadian boreal forest, the Paradise forests of Southeast Asia, and the Brazilian Amazon.

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