Indonesia: Success Story of Our Partner Organisation

Protesters hanging up a banner: forest for people, not for sale SOB protest at "Peoples’ Climate Movement" GCF at the end of September in Palangkaraya

Nov 2, 2011

Our rainforest campaigner’s work continues bearing fruit: At the beginning of July, Nordin, from SOB, informed us that the provincial police of Central Kalimantan has initiated official investigations against ten palm oil groups.

Our rainforest campaigner’s work continues bearing fruit: At the beginning of July, Nordin, from SOB, informed us that the provincial police of Central Kalimantan has initiated official investigations against ten palm oil groups. Among them are major companies such as Wilmar, Agro Hope Group or Best Agro Group.  “Typically, serious violations of the Forestry Code are the most frequently committed offences, i.e. the cutting down of trees to set up new plantations without prior approval of the Ministry in Jakarta“, explains Nordin.In July, numerous residents of various communities protested in the provincial capital of Palangkaraya against land theft and rainforest destruction by subsidiaries of palm oil giants Sinar Mas and Wilmar; the protesters being also supported by student organisations. The participating farmers urged the district government to revoke their prior permission for setting up new plantations of PT AMP until the protester’s demands have been met. For three days, they camped in front of the district parliament; however, the head of district, Darwan Ali, was not willing to enter into any dialogue. This should not come as a surprise, considering the fact that the activists of SOB and Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) have been on to him and his illegal doings for quite a while:

Report on Corruption in Central and West Kalimantan
After ten months of intense research, SOB and ICW presented their disturbing report to the governmental Corruption Eradication Commission on 26 September 2011: District governments in the provinces of Central and West Kalimantan had issued illegal operating licenses to several companies in order to enrich themselves. “These are mainly violations of the Forestry Code“, Nordin comments on his report. “In all the cases examined, forest was cut down to set up new palm oil plantations, despite the land not having been classified as available for agricultural use.“Darwan Ali, the Head of District of Seruyan, alone had issued licenses to 15 companies covering altogether 522,825 acres of forest area in Central Kalimantan. “It was tricky to find anything on these so-called companies,“ says Nordin. “Our research finally showed that all the companies joined the Wilmar Group. Once more, Wilmar is deeply involved in corruption and violations of several laws.“ According to the authors of this study, damages caused by these uncovered offences cost the Indonesian State about one billion US dollars.

Landmark Judgement: Numerous Plantations Deemed to Violate Indonesian Constitution As reported in our previous article, on 19 September 2011 the Indonesian Constitutional Court revoked two articles of the so-called ‘Plantation Law’ of 2004. This sensational court decision holds that numerous plantation companies were violating the Indonesian Constitution when they drove indigenous people and peasants off the plantation areas and had them arrested based on the sole fact that they did not tacitly acquiesce to being robbed off their own land and having their forests destroyed.Nordin – who, together with many other activists and affected parties, contributed considerably to this Constitutional Court ruling – now calls for swift consequences: “A great number of prior proceedings will have to be reopened, and affected parties need to be compensated for the injustice they have suffered. The companies involved must apologize for having criminalized, mistreated and arrested all these people. Also, this court ruling has now clearly proved that at the latest since 2004, many plantations have been in breach of the Indonesian Constitution, and their palm oil was produced illegally. This, in turn, means that all buyers of this palm oil have maintained business relations with Indonesian companies which violated our Indonesian Constitution.“And now, environmentalists are saying, nobody can rely on alleged sustainability labels such as RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palmoil) any longer – because these illegal monocultures even included so-called ‘certified plantations’...