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Indonesia: Security guards of Asia Pulp and Paper's supplier allegedly beat farmer union member to death, environmental groups protest- includes company comments

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10 June 2015

Greenpeace resumes collaboration with APP after company commits to responsible operations

Author: Vaidehi Shah, Eco-Business

"Greenpeace lifts suspension on APP collaboration", 28 May 2015

Three months after Indonesian farmer Indra Pelani was allegedly killed in a confrontation with security guards of a pulpwood company supplying agribusiness Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), environmental group Greenpeace is satisfied enough with APP’s response to the incident to resume working with them on conservation efforts. The group’s announcement, made...through an open letter to APP’s chairman Teguh Ganda Wijaya, is a reversal of a decision by Greenpeace on March 2 to suspend its collaboration with APP on implementing its Forest Conservation Policy (FCP). This is a four-pronged commitment by the company to environmentally and socially responsible business operations. Under the FCP, APP and its suppliers pledge to avoid development on forest land, protect peatland, avoid and resolve social conflicts, and ensure that all the fibre entering its mills is sustainably sourced...APP “warmly welcomed” Greenpeace’s decision to re-engage with it, and agreed with the recommendations to review its security arrangements and address outstanding social and community issues.

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7 April 2015

Killing of farmer becomes flashpoint for land grabs issues in Indonesia - experts comment

Author: Alison Moodie, Guardian (UK)

"Death of an Indonesian farmer: are companies doing enough to protect local communities?", 1 Apr 2015

The death of Pelani, who advocated for the rights of tenant farmers against the corporate takeover of their lands, has become a flash point for a bigger set of issues plaguing Indonesia...His death highlighted the increasingly volatile relationship between corporations and the people whose land they use to grow their products. Human rights and environmental groups reacted swiftly. Twenty-five European NGOs signed a letter of protest demanding that APP cooperate with police investigators and re-examine its corporate policies around resource exploitation in fragile areas. Greenpeace took it a step further and, while not cutting ties with APP altogether, did curtail its much-highlighted cooperation with the company on its foresting practices...APP responded to Pelani’s death by meeting with the farmer’s family, appointing a new security company in the district where the incident occurred, and now cooperating with the independent investigation by the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM)...But some say APP could do more to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Christine Bader,...former manager of policy development for BP, said APP should adopt...the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights...“I can say from my personal experience working for BP in Indonesia that the Voluntary Principles absolutely helped shape our relationship with the military and police for the better, in terms of our long-term relationships with local communities...Local communities are losing their land without their consent to large companies due to so-called legal land grabs. There are more than 500 villages with unresolved land claims in the 2.4m hectares of plantations that feed APP’s giant pulp mills...National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) has received 1,126 complaints of human rights violations by corporations since 2012, with 446 cases related to land conflict.

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9 March 2015

Indonesia: Environmental groups protest over activist murder, send joint letter to Asia Pulp and Paper & govts.

Author: Paul Newman, Environmental Investigation Agency

"Environmental groups protest over Indonesian activist murder", 6 March 2015

The...Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is one of 25 organisations to send a joint letter of protest over the murder of Indonesian activist Indra Kailani, killed in a confrontation with security staff employed by a subsidiary of Indonesia’s largest pulp and paper company. The letter, below...has been sent...on...March 6, 2015 to Asia Pulp and Paper, the Government of Indonesia, the European Commission, the European Delegation in Indonesia and the Indonesian Embassy in Brusssels. 

On Friday, February 27, 2015 Indonesian community activist Indra Kailani was murdered following a confrontation with security guards working for PT Wirakarya Sakti (WKS) – a company owned by the largest pulp and paper company in Indonesia, Asia Pulp and Paper (APP).

An eye-witness reported that at least seven security guards began to beat Indra at a checkpoint he needed to pass to pick up a colleague and attend a rice harvest festival. The witness’ pleas for help were ignored. Indra’s body was found the next day, 7km away from the guard post and scene of attack. Local police are looking for seven suspects

Europe-based environmental and human rights NGOs condemn this brutal murder. Indra was part of a growing network of people monitoring illegalities in the forestry and agriculture sector. He and many others risk their lives protecting their forests and revealing forest crimes. It is enshrined within Indonesian law via the Sistem Verifikasi Legalitas Kayu – Indonesia’s timber legality assurance system, a part of the EU/Indonesian Voluntary Partnership Agreement – that independent forest monitors have a right to monitor their forests, that any member of the public has the right to conduct forest monitoring. 

This act of brutality shows how communities and activists are living under a constant threat from companies reliant on raw materials, often from lands the communities own under customary law. As European consumers, we rely on independent monitors from civil society organisations and communities on the ground to provide the truth behind opaque operations.

APP is well aware of the social conflicts that exist in areas it relies on for raw materials. Indonesian communities and NGOs have documented and provided information to the company about many of these conflicts. It is the responsibility of APP to clean its house from undisciplined security staff who to date have continued their unacceptable violent ways with impunity.

Conflicts over land are one of the major drivers of the rising violence against civil society and communities which rely on forested land. Combating corruption and defending local peoples’ economic, social and cultural rights is becoming more dangerous, especially when it exposes powerful interests who are benefiting from timber and land concessions which are increasingly being protected by security forces.

The undersigned European NGOs demand that APP cooperates fully with any investigation and ensures a transparent and open process takes place to avoid corruption. We demand that APP prioritises conflict resolution over ownership and access to land with the hundreds of communities affected by its sprawling company operations. Should evidence be found linking APP or its subsidiary company in any way to this brutal crime, it must be held accountable in accordance with Indonesian law.

The undersigned European NGO furthers ask the EU Delegations and the European Commission to inform APP and the Indonesian Government that violence of any kind toward local communities and independent forest monitors is totally unacceptable. Indonesia has made a commitment through the VPA (enshrined in law) for civil society and community-based groups and individuals to have the right to monitor their forests.

It is incumbent upon the EU and Member States, as major consumers of pulp and paper from Indonesia, to ensure that the EU is not complicit, through in its silence, in allowing this brutal crime to go unpunished.

Faith Doherty, Environmental Investigation Agency, UK & Saskia Ozinga, Fern UK, Belgium

on behalf of:

  • ARA, Germany, Wolfgang Kuhlmann
  • Both Ends, The Netherlands, Paul Wolvekamp
  • Client Earth, UK, Emily Unwin
  • BUND/ FoE Germany, Nicola Uhde
  • Denkhaus Bremen, Germany, Peter Gerhardt
  • European Environmental Paper Network, Mandy Haggith
  • Forest Peoples Programme, UK, John Nelson
  • Forum Ökologie & Papier, Germany, Evelyn Schönheit & Jupp Trauth
  • Friends of the Earth, The Netherlands, Anouk van Baalen
  • Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker, Switzerland
  • Christoph WiedmerIndigene Völker und Wälder (INFOE), Germany, Sabine Schielmann
  • Pro Regenwald, Germany, Hermann Edelman,
  • Rainforest Foundation Norway, Goril Andreassen
  • Rettet Den Renegwald, Germany, Reinhard Behrend/ Klaus Schenck
  • Robin Wood, Germany, Rudolf Fenner
  • Well Grounded, UK, Cath Long
  • Gesellschaft for Oekologische Forschung e.V., Germany, Sylvia Hamberger
  • Watch Indonesia! e.V., Germany, Johanna Lein
  • RAN, UK, Tom Picken
  • NC-IUCN, The Netherlands, Evelien van den Broek
  • Pro Wildlife, Germany, Sandra Altherr Qercus
  • ANCN, Portugal, Domingos Patacho
  • WOLF, Slovakia, Maria Hudokova

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4 March 2015

Greenpeace suspend cooperation with Asia Pulp and Paper after incident

Author: Jon Afrizal, The Jakarta Post

"Greenpeace halts APP deal after brutal murder", 3 March 2015

Environmental group Greenpeace has suspended cooperation with giant Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) as police are trying to prevent further violence after a farmer was allegedly beaten to death in Jambi by guards linked to the company. Bustar Maitar, the head of Greenpeace’s Indonesia forest campaign,... [said] that the group was temporarily withdrawing support for the company’s initiatives on forest conservation.
Maitar said support for APP would be suspended until the case was “settled in a transparent and fair manner”. “They have declared themselves to be a responsible company. If APP doesn’t take this seriously, it will cost them their reputation,” he said. The green lobby group had once been one of the strongest critics of APP, accusing it of destroying vast swathes of carbon-rich forests that were home to endangered species such as Sumatran orangutans and tigers. 

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4 March 2015

Security guards at Asia Pulp and Paper surrender after alleged murder of farmer, company comments

Author: Jon Afrizal, Jakarta Post

"APP-linked guards surrender after murder", 4 March 2015

Seven security guards of PT Wirakarya Sakti (WKS), a pulpwood supplier for giant Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), have surrendered to the police after allegedly beating a farmer to death in Jambi...The guards, who were members of the quick response unit (URC) contracted by PT WKS, reportedly fled the scene after beating the farmer, Indra Pelani, to death...near an acacia plantation by the company’s Kembar 803 post in Tebo regency, Jambi. Indra, a member of the Tebo Farmers’ Union, and his friend Nick Karim of the Jambi branch of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) had passed the post on a motorcycle and got into an argument with the URC team members. Indra was grabbed and beaten by the guards while Nick was aided by locals. Indra died during the incident and his body was dumped 5 kilometers from the company’s District 8 area.

APP, a member of the Sinar Mas Group of companies, said...that it had ordered WKS to suspend all personnel allegedly involved in the incident. “We condemn violence and we support Greenpeace’s decision to focus its efforts on this issue,” it said, adding that efforts would be made “to ensure justice is served”.

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