Girding Our Loincloths
It's not just the middle classes which are revolting, although their fight against the alliance between the court mafia, businessfolk and their political chums for the country's all-pervading corruption is what must worry SBY the most.
Elsewhere, such as in Riau, Sumatra, (part of which is currently submerged
following heavy rains), villagers are rallying
in support of an environmental camp
established two years ago to protect the forests against their rapacious destruction by PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper
, one of Indonesia's largest paper companies. 11 foreign Greenpeace activists have been deported, ostensibly for violating their tourist visas by joining the protest against forest destruction. They had packed ready to leave last week but had stayed at the request of the local villagers.
It has been alleged that PT. RAPP had paid up to Rp.200,000 to a group which had tried to forcibly remove them, so the police acted "for security reasons".
The camp remains, now run by the Forest Rescue Network Riau
(Jikalahari), an alliance that includes the Indonesia Forum for the Environment (Walhi), Transparency International Indonesia and local tribal groups.
Elsewhere in Sumatra forests have been destroyed in order to create palm oil plantations, but 'suitable' land is just about exhausted, as it is in Kalimantan. The largest remaining forests are in West Papua, a province under military rule.
News is scarce from there as few can get the necessary permits to visit. However, what does leak throgh makes disturbing reading
A new report
released by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak
entitled “Up for Grabs” exposes how five million hectares of land, most of it forested, is being targeted in Papua by powerful companies seeking to cash in on projected demand for biofuels, derived from crops such as oil palm, and other commodities. This land grab is provoking conflicts with local communities and threatens the third largest area of remaining tropical forests on Earth.Field investigations carried out by EIA/Telapak at seven locations in Papua and West Papua Provinces during 2009 reveal a stark picture of government condoned exploitation of traditional landowners, many of whom are being enticed, tricked and sometimes coerced into releasing large swathes of forested land for plantations on the basis of unfulfilled promises of development benefits such as improved transport, schooling, and housing.In one case EIA/Telapak encountered a four year old boy, son of a local landowner, who had to sign a contract so that the plantation company could ensure control of the land for decades.
This does not fit well with the closing remarks
at the weekend of the Papuan Biodiversity Conference from the Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu. He said that the residents of Papua and the central government must work together to encourage the international society to preserve the environment for the future."I challenge all parties to better conserve Papua's natural environment," Barnabas said. "Hopefully we can be an example for other countries."Let us save Papua, Indonesia and the planet."
Methinks that this is yet another cause that the 'street parliament' should examine.