The rainforest defenders are coming

Visitors from Indonesia:

From December 7th to 20th, victims from Sumatra and Borneo report on the palm oil disaster in their home country

 

The rainforest defenders are coming

Palm oil is the cheapest vegetable oil on the world market. And for this reason, it is in high demand: It serves as a basic commodity for food, soap and biodiesel and is also used in combined heat and power plants. However, nature and people in Indonesia pay the highest price for the sake of its production: The Indonesian rainforest is cleared for palm oil plantations, and the natives are forcibly driven off their land.

Now, the organisations Rainforest Rescue, Robin Wood and Watch Indonesia! have invited a group of indigenous people, environmentalists and human rights activists to visit Germany. The visitors want to inform politicians as well as the public personally about the consequences of “green” energy and the so-called renewable resources for nature and people in Indonesia. And they want the criminal companies to return the stolen land to them.

 

For more than 20 years, a large part of the Indonesian population is suffering from the extreme expansion of the palm oil industry. Indonesia is the world champion in exports: The palm oil monocultures already take up nine million hectares of land. In order to make room for new plantations, the rainforests and peatlands in Borneo and Sumatra are being cleared.

For years, environmental and human rights organisations are collecting proof that many palm oil companies cut down the forest without having valid permits – repeatedly, these permits are being “bought”.

The palm oil companies resort to using sheer brutality against farmers and indigenous people: They disregard the people’s rights, their land ownership and culture. Anyone who resists the destruction of his or her livelihood is threatened, beaten or arrested. Over and over again, our partner organisations report on such acts of violence. One of the most recent cases that occurred in the province of Jambi in Sumatra is particularly shocking:

In August 2011, three indigenous villages were completely destroyed by a special operations force unit of the police which had been called in by the palm oil company Asiatic Persada. The inhabitants were shot at; threats of violence and intimidation still persist to this day. The indigenous people of the Suku Anak Dalam have been living in this territory for many generations. By now, their forest has been cleared, and they are struggling to survive amidst a giant palm oil plantation. They refuse to be driven off their territory which is the land of their ancestors – a fact they can prove by means of certificates. The plantation belongs to Wilmar International, the world’s biggest palm oil company.

Repeatedly, Wilmar’s numerous subsidiaries have been convicted of illegal deforestation and severe human rights violations. For this reason, the World Bank imposed a worldwide moratorium on palm oil in 2009. Yet, some of Wilmar’s plantations even received sustainability labels issued by TÜV Rheinland Indonesia. The German and European policies and laws concerning agrofuels and green energy also contribute significantly to the palm oil boom.

“I want the people in Europe to be more aware of the fact that their use of palm oil poses a threat to our forests, our source of life and our future”, says Nordin, founder of the organisation Save our Borneo. Nordin is one of the activists visiting Germany. Portraits of all activists from Indonesia can be found here:
The rainforest defenders are coming!

Dates and contact persons concerning interviews and off-the-record conversations:

Hamburg, 14.12. and 17.–19.12.2011
Robin Wood:
Ute Bertrand, Phone: +49 (0) 171 835 95 15
Ute.Bertrand@robinwood.de

Rainforest Rescue (Rettet den Regenwald):
Christiane Zander, Phone: +49 (0) 170 9666 431
christiane.zander@regenwald.org

 

Berlin, 10.–13.12.2011
Watch Indonesia!:
Marianne Klute, Phone: +49 (0) 176 245 265 49
klute@watchindonesia.org

Rainforest Rescue (Rettet den Regenwald):
Christiane Zander, Phone: +49 (0) 170 9666 431
christiane.zander@regenwald.org

Bremen, 15.12.2011
Rainforest Rescue (Rettet den Regenwald):
Christiane Zander, Phone: +49 (0) 170 9666 431

Robin Wood:
Ute Bertrand, Phone: +49 (0) 171 835 95 15