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Cablegate: Greenpeace "Forest Defender Camp"

VZCZCXRO8943
PP RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #3088 3101051
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061051Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6941
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1506
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 1976
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHHJJPI/USPACOM HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS JAKARTA 003088

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC EAGR PGOV PREL SENV SOCI ID
SUBJECT: Greenpeace "Forest Defender Camp"
1. (SBU) Summary: Greenpeace has established a "Forest Defenders
Camp" in Sumatra's Riau Province to protect the forest and climate
ahead of the COP-13 climate change conference in Bali. The 60-odd
camp members, including one American and 11 other foreigners, are

ostensibly investigating forest fires and land clearing, though the
endeavor appears more focused on publicity than genuine research.
While the group's activities could lead to a confrontation with the
authorities, local officials understand that this would be
counterproductive and so far have taken no action to remove them.
End Summary.

Greenpeace opens "Forest Defenders Camp"
-----------------------------------------
2. (SBU) On October 9, Greenpeace announced the opening of a
so-called "Forest Defenders Camp" near the village of Kuala Cemaku
in the southern part of Sumatra's Riau province. The camp is staffed
by 60 volunteers, including one American and eleven other
foreigners. According to camp members, Greenpeace established the
camp to ensure that forest protection is included in the next phase
of the Kyoto protocol and to highlight forest-destruction in the run
up to the December COP-13 meetings in Bali. One member of the camp
described the group's activities as fighting forest fires, surveying
the depth of peat underlying the forest, and assessing biodiversity.
To this end, he said, the organization uses micro-light paragliders
coupled with foot patrols to search for forest fires. As of early
November, group members concede, no fires had been spotted. Camp
members' most prominent activity so far has been hanging English
language banners calling for an end to deforestation in areas where
plantations are actively clearing land.
3. (SBU) Greenpeace's Senior Forest Campaigner for Southeast Asia,
Habsoru, said the issues Greenpeace seeks to highlight by
establishing the forest defenders' camp include environmental
destruction, rule of law and community rights. In this case,
Habsoru said the fundamental problem is that plantation companies
operating in the area have ignored or harmed local populations and
have not adhered to the terms of their land concessions.

Local Officials Criticize Plantation Companies
--------------------------------------------- --

4. Some village officials agree with Greenpeace's assessment. The
village chief, for example, told the consulate that people from
Kuala Cemaku have been protesting the nearby plantation since it
opened in 2004. The situation did not become serious until the
following year when the company began clearing the small forest
plantations villagers traditionally used to supplement their income.
Making matters worse, he said, the company pointedly refused to hire
local people to work the plantation but instead brought in families
from Java.
5. (SBU) Several officials critical of the plantations conceded that
the companies appear to have obtained the required land use permits,
but believe they were issued without a proper environmental impact
study and that the companies have not fully complied with a legal
requirement to pay compensation to villagers. The consulate's check
of zoning records indicates that at least part of the plantation
area had been officially designated as "protected forest," giving
credence to some of the villagers' and Greenpeace's claims. Senior
expatriate managers at two other plantation companies acknowledged
that problems with licensing, compensation, land zoning, and
environmental impact studies like those at Kuala Cemaku are
widespread, particularly in South Sumatra and Riau provinces.
Reaction from the Authorities
-----------------------------
6. (SBU) In several conversations with Consulate Medan, Hayden
Llewellyn, the American at the camp, described Greenpeace's recent
activities and run-ins with local authorities. According to
Llewellyn, local and provincial police visited the camp on three
occasions between October 9 and October 27 requesting information on
the foreign volunteers. According to Llewellyn, the local Police
asked all foreign nationals to leave the Greenpeace site, but backed
down once the volunteers asked the police to put the request in
writing.
7. (SBU) Consulate staff discussed the case with the Deputy
Director for Police Intelligence in Riau Province, Mr. Dodi, on
October 29 in regard to the assertions made by Hayden Llewellyn.
Dodi confirmed the police visits, and also noted that Riau Police
Chief General Sutjiptadi had visited the camp. Llewellyn described
the visit as helpful. According to Dodi, the police's primary
concern was that Greenpeace Indonesia had not followed proper
procedure and failed to notify the National Police Headquarters in
Jakarta that the organization was bringing foreign nationals to work
in Riau. There are also issues concerning the use of unlicensed
aircraft operating without proper flight clearances and possible
trespassing on land belonging to plantations. The police are not
acting on those issues for the moment, in part because they realize
that a confrontation with the group could have extremely negative PR
consequences.
Hume

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