Press Release: Call for Enforcement of Law against illegal activity destroying Tripa’s Peat Swamps continues to escalate
JOINT PRESS RELEASE
For Immediate Distribution
Call for Enforcement of Law against illegal activity destroying Tripa’s Peat Swamps continues to escalate
FROM: Alliance of Environmental and Human Rights NGOs
Wetlands International Indonesia Program
Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari
Yayasan Ekosistem Sigom Aceh
PanEco Foundation – Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme
Yayasan Orangutan Sumatera Lestari –OIC
The Nature Conservancy
Profauna Indonesia LASA
Orangutan Foundation International
Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation
Flora and Fauna International
Centre for Orangutan Protection
Yayasan IAR Indonesia
Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trusts
Forum Konservasi Orangutan Sumatera
Institute Pertanian Bogor (IPB)
Universitas Indonesia (UI)
Universitas Nasional (UNAS)
Environmental and Human Rights NGO’s are increasing their campaign to save the Tripa Peat Swamp Forest.
Human rights and Environmental NGOs, Academic and other Civil Society groups met today at a meeting hosted by the Research Centre for Climate Change, University of Indonesia, in the campaign to save Rawa Tripa, following reports of increased intimidation of local villagers by palm oil companies and of health problems associated with smoke from fires illegally set to clear peat lands, with some villagers from communities surrounding Tripa requiring medical treatment. Local people have already lost their livelihoods due to the massive clearance of this unique wetland forest for oil palm, which is now threatening its total destruction. Numerous huge fires were reported by ground and aerial observers at the end of March, and over 100 fire hotspots were recorded by satellite in a period of only 10 days, the highest frequency of hotspots recorded in Tripa since records began in 2001. The head of the President’s Satgas REDD+ team, Ir. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, in a press release of 13 April reported that his investigation team found fires had been deliberately set in the concessions of PT Kallista Alam and PT Surya Panen Subur 2, breaking several laws and regulations and causing negative environmental impacts. These fires caught the world’s attention when Sumatran orangutan experts warned of the imminent extinction of the species in Tripa, a UNEP/UNESCO GRASP global priority site for the species, before the end of 2012.
Pak Ibduh a village head representing the local communities of Tripa added, “The communities are living in fear of the companies. They use brimob (Indonesia’s mobile police brigade) as a private security force, evicting people from their land, preventing access across plantations and clearing local landowners farms for palm oil. The palm oil companies seem to operate as if they are above the law and we see the results every day. Clean water supplies are vanishing and it is increasingly difficult to catch fish and obtain other natural resources as the forests are cleared and drained by the many canals. Our people are suffering and we want immediate action to stop this and restore Tripa’s forests”.
Pak Ibduh joined lawyer, Kamaruddin, and former senator of Aceh, Adnan NS, in Jakarta in late November last year to file a report of a criminal offence with the National Police. “The central police then issued a letter to the police of Aceh to investigate the case, in which they confirmed that it does meet the criteria for a criminal investigation, but as of now, nearly 5 months later, we have not seen any attempt at an investigation from the Aceh Provincial Police” stated Kamaruddin
In the press release of April 13, Ir. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto, also announced that his investigation team reported indications of several other violations such as the converting of peat swamp forests inside the Leuser Ecosystem, converting peat swamp forest on deep peat, and converting forest before a permit had been issued. He has formally requested an immediate investigation by the Ministry of the Environment and the National Police. Four days later, on April 17th, the Jakarta Globe newspaper reported that the Environment Ministry said it will launch an investigation into the issuance of a plantation concession inside the Tripa peat swamp forest in Aceh province.
We the NGO’s gathered here today at the Research Center for Climate Change, University of Indonesia, fully support the call of the Satgas REDD+ for an immediate investigation into the crimes committed in Tripa, including the criminal case filed with the National Police by Pak Ibduh in November last year and request an explanation of why it has not yet been properly followed up. We also express our full support to WALHI (Friends of the Earth Indonesia) in their legal challenge against the concession issued to PT Kallista Alam by the former Governor of Aceh in their appeal at the high court in Medan, North Sumatra.
We request that the responsible National Ministries, namely the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of the Environment, and the Ministry of Forestry order an immediate halt to all deforestation and land degradation in the Tripa peat swamps. We request that these Ministries assist the National Police to quickly implement a thorough investigation of all illegal activities and dealings that have been perpetrated in the Tripa peat swamps, including the illegal PT. Kallista Alam concession permit and land use practices that contravene laws on National Spatial Planning, and those protecting the Leuser Ecosystem, the environment, peatlands, endangered species, and that forbid the burning of land.
In the face of such blatant and widely publicized law-breaking it is imperative that the laws of Indonesia be upheld openly and transparently, and that guilty parties be held accountable to the full extent of the law. Failure to do so will further damage the credibility of Indonesia’s law enforcement and legal system, its commitment to GHG emissions reduction, and its attempt to develop sustainable palm oil,and without urgent and immediate action, if current destruction is allowed by President SBY and the Indonesian Government, then the critically endangered Sumatran Orangutan population is likely to become extinct this year.
We simply want to see Indonesia’s laws enforced. We support and encourage the forthcoming International Day of Action on April 26th, where supporters and partners from around the world will be taking action calling on Indonesian President SBY to publicly state his support to enforce Indonesian laws, protecting Tripa, the community of the region, and its Sumatran Orangutan population. Without immediate action, then Tripa’s unique population of the Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutan, at this continued rate of destruction, will be gone by the end of this year.
Notes for Editors:
The press release following the report delivered by REDD+ Taskforce is
available for download, with contact details here:
For further comment or contact,
Teguh Surya: Walhi / Friends of the Earth Indonesia; Mobile: +62-8118204362 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yuyun Indradi, Greenpeace / Forest Political Campaigner; Mobile: +62-812 2616 1759 Email: email@example.com
Dr Ian Singleton, Director of Conservation / Sumatran Orangutan Conservation programme. Mobile: +62-811650491 Email firstname.lastname@example.org