Violence in Uganda and Indonesia: Why plantation companies can’t be trusted to police themselves
Posted Mar. 16, 2015 / Originally posted by Jeff Conant
On February 27, Indra Pelani (left), a 22 year-old farmer and environmental defender from Jambi, Indonesia, was travelling to a harvest festival when he was brutally murdered by the security force of PT WKS (Wirakarya Sakti), a subsidiary of Asia Pulp and Paper, an Indonesian company with a long history of conflict in the region.
Pelani, a member of the Tebo Farmers’ Union, was travelling with Nick Karim of the Jambi branch of WALHI/Friends of the Earth Indonesia, when he was attacked, brutally beaten and killed. The seven guards suspected in the killing surrendered to police a few days later.
“This appears to be a pre-meditated, brutal murder,” said Riko Kurniawan, Executive Director of Walhi / Friends of the Earth Riau. Pelani’s community had been engaged in a decade-long conflict with WKS over the ownership of 2,000 hectares of farmland. “We hope that justice is done this time,” Kurniawan added, “unlike 2010 and 2012 cases in which two farmers were killed under similar circumstances arising from social conflicts with APP suppliers in Jambi and Riau.”
The murder comes on the heels of APP’s efforts to reverse its reputation as one of the world’s most notorious tropical deforesters. The company is one of many in the sector to have issued a zero-deforestation Forest Conservation Policy in 2013, and is a signatory to the New York Declaration on Forests, a pledge from companies, governments and NGOs to cut deforestation in half by 2020.
Friends of the Earth International sent a letter to Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo asking for swift and positive action to bring Pelani’s killers to justice and prevent future violence by APP. Another open letter is being circulated by Walhi Jambi, asking for immediate prosecution of all actors involved in the crime.
This incident is just the latest in a long string of killings associated with forest exploitation; but the violence takes other forms as well.
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Friends of the Earth International and Friends of the Earth groups from all over the world sent the letter below to Indonesian authorities:
Mr. Joko Widodo, Komjen. Pol Badrodin Haiti, Hafidz Abbas, Brigjen Pol. Drs. Satriya Hari Prasetya, SH
March 10, 2015
By now you are aware of the murder of Indra Pelani by private security forces working on behalf of Wirakarya Sakti (WKS), a subsidiary of Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), on February 27.
Indra Pelani, a farmer and environmental defender, was just 22 years old.
We write to you on behalf of environmental and social justice organizations from around the world to ask you to do everything in your power to ensure the investigation into Indra’s death is transparent, impartial and rigorous. Indra was part of a network of people monitoring illegal activities in the forestry and agriculture sector.
Conflicts involving private security forces are common in Indonesia. Without an urgent and thorough review of the role of private security forces and how they are deployed, it is unlikely that Indra will be the last to die under these tragic circumstances. We urge you to work to ensure the protection of peaceful protesters and activists, bearing in mind that their activities will often challenge and oppose business interests and other powerful actors.
Indra Pelani worked to protect the environment and to stand up for human rights. Fair societies need such people. We need them to enjoy the full protection of the law. We need their personal security to be absolutely guaranteed.
We look forward to your swift and positive action. Please update us on the steps you take to follow up on this matter
Friends of the Earth International
JA! / Friends of the Earth Moçambique
COECOCEIBA /Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica
Amigos de la Tierra Espana/ Friends of the Earth Spain
Friends of the Earth Canada
Amis de la Terre France/ Friends of the Earth France
Center for Environment/ Friends of the Earth Bosnia and Herzegovina
Amigos da Terra Brasil/ Friends of the Earth Brasil
KFEM/ Friends of the Earth Korea
Friends of the Earth Scotland
Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Friends of the Earth Australia
CESTA/ Friends of the Earth El Salvador
Friends of the Earth Malta
Amigos de la Tierra Argentina
groundWork/ Friends of the Earth South Africa
Centre for Environmental Justice/ Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka
Sahabat Alam Malaysia/ Friends of the Earth Malaysia
Pro Natura/ Friends of the Earth Switzerland
Friends of the Earth Togo
NOAH/ Friends of the Earth Denmark
Pro Public/ Friends of the Earth Nepal
RSEU/ Friends of the Earth Russia
Movimiento Madre Tierra Honduras/ Friends of the Earth Honduras
Milieudefensie/ Friends of the Earth Netherlands
Maan ystävät/ Friends of the Earth Finland
Friends of the Earth US
Hnuti DUHA/ Friends of the Earth Czech Republic
Friends of the Earth Luxembourg
PENGON/ Friends of the Earth Palestine
National Society of Conservationists/ Friends of the Earth Hungary
Friends of the Earth Papua New Guinea
Jordens Vänner/ Friends of the Earth Sweden
LRC/ Friends of the Earth Philippines
Friends of the Earth Croatia
Friends of the Earth Germany/ BUND
Friends of the Earth Uganda
ERA/ Friends of the Earth Nigeria