Indonesia: terror and eviction for palm oil

An indigenous woman stands in shock in front of her demolished houseA shattered village community

The consequences of soaring demand for palm oil for biodiesel are becoming increasingly brutal: 1,500 armed men demolished four indigenous settlements in Indonesia and displaced inhabitants who were not willing to surrender their land to a palm oil company. Please call on the EU stop imports of palm and soybean oil.

“On the morning of December 11, I heard men rattling my door,” said Basron, a 41-year-old resident of the Pinang Tinggi settlement. He then found himself confronted by an armed troop of soldiers, police officers, staff of the PT Asiatic Persada palm oil company and hired thugs.

“These houses are all slated for eviction and demolition today,” one of the men said. A little later, Basron watched as a bulldozer reduced his hut to splinters.

In Jambi Province in Sumatra, a total of 1,500 men descended on the helpless indigenous Suku Anak Dalam and evicted them from their huts. At least 296 houses in four villages were looted and demolished in early December 2013.

For almost three decades, Asiatic Persada has been persecuting the forest dwellers – in 1986, the company started to cut down their rainforest for plantations. Yet the people stood firm – until December 2013.

Vast rainforest areas are being cleared for new palm oil plantations in response to the EU’s agrofuel policy. Palm oil imports from the tropics are soaring to meet growing demand for biodiesel: 2.5 million tons were imported in the first half of 2013 – a 63 percent increase over the same period the previous year.

The most important producer of palm-oil biodiesel is Neste Oil Corporation. The Finnish government maintains a 51% controlling interest in the company, which operates the world’s largest biodiesel refineries in Singapore and Rotterdam, each with an annual capacity of one billion liters.

Please call on the EU and the governments of its member countries to stop the mandatory blending of biofuels and abolish imports of tropical vegetable oils.

Start of campaign: Dec 23, 2013

Neste Oil and Wilmar

Neste Oil is the largest European producer of biodiesel from palm oil. The Finnish government maintains controlling interest in the company, which caters to the European market by operating the world’s largest biodiesel refineries in Singapore and Rotterdam. Both plants have an annual production capacity of 1 billion liters. More than half of the biodiesel produced is based on palm oil, which Neste purchases from Wilmar, a certified palm oil company in Singapore.

Wilmar, in turn, was the owner of PT Asiatic Persada, a palm oil company in Jambi on Sumatra, until last spring. Asiatic Persada was sold to the Ganda Group, a company owned by the brother of Wilmar founder Martua Sitorus, but it continues to sell its palm oil to Wilmar.

Further information:
please visit our palm oil and biofuel information pages. 

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