MAC: Mines and Communities

Indonesian authorities arrest local and overseas coal activists

Published by MAC on 2010-07-09
Source: Statements, Mindanao Examiner (2010-07-07)

Over a dozen environmental activists were arrested while attending a press conference organised by Greenpeace and local groups in Western Java, Indonesia. They included Jean Marie Ferraris, from Mines & Communities editorial group LRC-KsK (Friends of the Earth Philippines). Jean Marie was eventually deported without charge.

In a clear example of intimidation, the arrests involved over 100 police allegedly accompanied by representatives of the local coal power plant company involved, Cirebon Elektrik Power Ltd. It seems the real aim was to intimidate the local community which is strongly opposed to the presence of the coal plant.

Indonesia arrests Pinay activist, other environmentalists in West Java

Mindanao Examiner

6 July 2010

MANILA, Philippines - Indonesian authorities have detained over a dozen people, including a Filipino environment activist, during a news conference in Western Java, the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center in Manila said.

It said Jean Marie Ferraris was arrested Monday along with other activists who are mostly members of the Greenpeace during a press conference in Cirebon City, site of a proposed coal-fired power plant.

"We denounce in the strongest possible terms the unwarranted arrest of Ms. Jean Marie Ferraris by misguided elements of the Indonesian police, who apparently barged into a peaceful press conference being held after a training activity organized by our friends from Greenpeace," said Judy Pasimio, of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center.

She said Ferraris and 13 other NGO workers were arrested while they were explaining the harmful impact of coal plants on the environment and local communities.

"Jean was merely there to share the experience of our own partner communities who are also facing the threat of coal mining and environmental degradation from coal-fired power plants. She entered Indonesia legally and was attending a legitimate activity organized by an internationally-recognized environmental NGO. Her arrest and the arrest of the other participants were completely unjustified," Pasimio said in a statement released Tuesday.

The arrests, she said, were conducted by some 100 Indonesian policemen who were reportedly accompanied by representatives of the coal power plant operated by Cirebon Elektrik Power Ltd.

"Clearly Indonesia still hasn't completely shrugged off its authoritarian past. This latest episode evokes the time of Suharto when the coercive power of the state, through the police and the military were used to sow terror and choke democratic space. This abusive behavior has no place in a supposedly democratic country," Pasimio said.

"We call on our government to act swiftly to affect the release of Ms. Ferraris and demand an immediate explanation from the Indonesian government. The new administration of President Aquino must send a strong message to the international community that it is committed to protecting our citizens from abuses committed on foreign soil, even if it is by a foreign government."

Pasimio's associate, Erwin Quinones, said the Filipino woman and the others are still being held in Western Java. He said four Indonesian journalists who attended the news conference witnessed the arrests.

"We are communicating with everybody about this incident," he told the Mindanao Examiner


Illegally Detained Activist in Indonesia deported - No formal charges filed

LRC-KsK Press Release

7 July 2010

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY-The 15 international environmental activists who were arrested and detained "for more than 24 hours," after Indonesian police dispersed what one of the green group member described as a "peaceful" press conference last Monday, are now safe and on their way to their home-countries, a local network member said Wednesday.

In an interview, Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan (LRC-KsK)-a legal and policy research non-government organization (NGO) Executive Director Judith P. Pasimio said that on July 5, Jean Marie M. Ferraris, Team Leader of LRC-KsK's Davao office, together with 14 other green activists were in a middle of a press conference on the ill-effects of coal-fired power plants, when some 100 Indonesian police barged in and arrested the activists.

"This outrage only shows what appears to be collusion between the Indonesian government and the Cirebon Elektrik, Ltd. We denounce how the police violently disrupted a peaceful and legitimate practice in the defense of the environment and the rights of its people," said Ms. Pasimio.

She said the international environmental watchdog Greenpeace, along with network organizations, attended a peaceful press conference-organized by anti-coal communities in Cirebon, West Java, Indonesia-a five-hour train ride from capital city, Jakarta.

"Jean went to Indonesia to share the Philippine experience on the deadly impact of coal and our own learnings from our anti-coal campaigns, particularly in Maasim, Saranggani," Ms. Pasimio said in an emailed statement. "She kept her humor throughout the ordeal. (I) am just really worried about her health, as they were not given proper meals, no rest, and of course the tension. While she is a very strong woman and activist, she has her physical limitations, but am sure that this experience will keep her stronger, and more determined in our advocacies,"

Here in the city, LRC-KsK Cagayan de Oro Regional Office team leader officer Ma. Zherwinah B. Mosqueda , in an interview Wednesday, that by 5pm, Tuesday, the detained NGO workers, including Ms. Ferraris, were already turned over to their respective embassies.

"Our last communication with the delegation, she (Ms. Ferraris) is set to arrive today. She's safe, although she still shaken from the ordeal," said Ms. Mosqueda.

"Still, we maintain that the Indonesian government should explain this affront against the rights of peoples to peaceably assemble and pursue genuine solutions to our deteriorating environment and rational utilisation of natural resources for the national interest and not for the profits of corporations," she said.

She added the delegation claims representatives of coal-fired power plant Cirebon Elektrik, Ltd. accompanied the 100 Indonesian police when they were arrested.

An emailed statement from LRC-KsK, appealed for President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III to immediately intervene and demand an explanation from the Indonesian government.

"The new administration of President Aquino must send a strong message to the international community that it is committed to protecting our citizens from abuses committed on foreign soil, even if it is by a foreign government," an emailed statement of LRC-KsK reads in part.

Illegally detained

In an email, Tuesday evening, Amalie Conchelle C. Hamoy-Obusan-one of the anti-coal campaign network members detained-said that she, together with other activists from Greenpeace and other communities in China, Indonesia, Thailand and India were apprehended at around 2pm, Monday and detained for more than 24 hours.

"We were in the village simply to give support and learn from the experiences of our brothers and sisters who share the same plight as our countrymen living around coal-fired power plants," Ms. Hamoy-Obusan said in her email.

She claimed that while at the Cirebon police station, they were accused of "visa irregularities" and "engaging in activities that create instability."

"The interrogation lasted through the night and we've had little sleep," said Ms. Hamoy-Obusan.

One of the unilateral agreements of member-nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is that visa is not required if a citizen of any member-nation-visiting an ASEAN country-for visits of less than a week.

"On behalf of Greenpeace, I would like to express my personal appreciation to the network for being quick on denouncing this injustice. Rest assured that I will return to the Philippines in good health but with greater hope that we are all in this together," she added.

Beyond common sense

In a phone interview, Greenpeace Southeast Asia-climate and energy campaigner Arif Fiyanto claimed the reaction of the Indonesian police was "exaggerated."

He alleged that the officers acted beyond common sense.

"We are here to educate local people and fishermen regarding (the ill-effects of a) construction of a coal-fired power plant in Kanci. They have lost their jobs since the power plant was built," said Mr. Fiyanto.

This reporter tried to contact the Indonesian Embassy Office in the city, to confirm the arrests and subsequent investigation. However, they declined to comment on the incident pending the official statement from their foreign affairs minister.

For more information please contact us: +632 926 4409; +632 92813 72; +6388 856 5045; +6388 272 9853


Environmental groups in the Philippines, Rep. Bello blast Indonesian detention of climate activists in Cirebon

Greenpeace & LRC-KsK joint press release

7 July 2010

Manila - Greenpeace and The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth Philippines (LRC-KsK) released a statement today denouncing the unwarranted and unjust detention of anti-coal activists by police authorities in Cirebon, West Java, since July 5. Police and then immigration officials have detained 12 foreign activists for over 40 hours, subjecting them to continuous interrogation procedures, even before filing any charges and on the basis of what the groups said was an outrageous and unsubstantiated allegation that the activists were supposedly causing "social instability".

The activists apprehended by the local police were from Greenpeace and from communities who have been campaigning against the expansion of coal power plants across Asia - from China, India, Thailand and the Philippines. They went to Cirebon to share with local communities their experiences of living with the deadly impacts of coal mining and coal-fired power plants, and to learn lessons from each other about how to campaign for clean and renewable energy solutions. The activists were apprehended by police authorities while they were attending a press conference organized by local groups to launch a regional manifesto against the expansion of coal power plants in Asia.

Among the 12 activists were three Filipinos: Amalie Obusan, climate and energy campaigner of Greenpeace Southeast Asia; Albert Lozada, Solar Generation-Pilipinas coordinator of Greenpeace Southeast Asia; and Jean Marie Ferraris, team leader of the LRC-KsK Davao Regional Office.

"We condemn in the strongest terms this latest harassment by the Indonesian police and immigration authorities on peaceful activists, as well as on communities who are opposing coal because of its impacts on the local environment, the health of host communities, and on the global climate," said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia. "It is lamentable that campaigning to uphold environmental justice through non-violent means has now become an offense worthy of heavy-handed tactics on the part of Indonesian authorities."

Two months ago, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated that he welcomed working in partnership with NGO's, including Greenpeace, especially to address deforestation and ecosystem damage in the country. "However, the actions of police and immigration authorities that wilfully violate the human rights of local and international activists, especially without basis, reflects badly on the country's reputation as a genuine and robust democracy and can only fuel concerns that the law is being abused to serve the interests of those who are profiting from the destruction of the environment," Hernandez added.

Judy Pasimio, Executive Director of LRC-KsK, said that the anti-coal community will be urging the Indonesian administration to condemn this most recent act by the local police and Immigration authorities. "The Indonesian government needs to condemn this very hostile act against legitimate, peaceful meeting of coal campaigners and human rights defenders. We challenge President Yudhoyono to expose the implicit connivance of police and coal companies out to protect their own, selfish interests. This unfortunate incident will not silence us, nor the communities we work with. In fact, this has strengthened our stand against corporations willing to use force against the people for their own profit," Pasimio stated.

Congressman Walden Bello, Akbayan Representative, who had made calls to the Indonesian Embassy in the Philippines and the Philippine Embassy in Indonesia for the immediate release of the Filipino nationals, echoed the sentiments of the environmental groups. "Illegal arrests of environmental activists are becoming a trademark of the supposedly liberal government of Indonesia. We ask President Yudhoyono to order the security forces to stop their harassment of activists and to give safe passage and clearance to these activists who were unjustly detained," Bello said.

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Contact Information:
Judy Pasimio, LRC-KsK Executive Director, +639175268341
Ronald Gregorio, LRC-KsK Team Leader, +639175481674
Von Hernandez, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director: +639175263050
JP Agcaoili, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Media Campaigner, +639176312750, +6324146512 loc 121


RIMM letter for Indonesian Government

International Women & Mining Network (RIMM) letter

6 July 2010

BAGUIO CITY, PHILIPPINES - WE, women and member organizations of the INTERNATIONAL WOMEN AND MINING NETWORK (RED INTERNACIONAL 'MUJERES Y MINERIA') ("RIMM"), join Philippine citizens, activists and civil society organizations in denouncing the reported unwarranted arrest and interrogation of environmental activists from China, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, made yesterday by Indonesian police in the state of West Java.

Around 100 misguided members of the Indonesian police apparently barged into a peaceful press conference in Cirebon, West Java, held after a training activity organized by internationally-recognized environmental NGO Greenpeace, regarding the harmful impact of coal plants on the environment and local communities. The police officers were reportedly accompanied by representatives of the coal power plant operated by Cirebon Elektrik Power Ltd.

Among the arrested group of 13 international NGO workers is Filipina Miss Jean Marie Ferraris, a campaigner from the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center ("LRC"), a legal and policy research NGO known for its work on indigenous peoples rights and natural resources issues, and a member organization of RIMM.

Miss Ferraris - and the other Asian environmental activists - was in Indonesia to share the experience of communities that are facing the threat of coal mining and environmental degradation from coal-fired power plants. Their entry in the country was legal, and the activity organized by Greenpeace was legitimate. The environmental activists are still being held at the Indonesian immigration office.

We join the call for the Indonesian Government to shrug off its authoritarian past, and to refrain from sowing terror and choking democratic space, and to immediately release all the environmental activists.

We join the call for the Philippine Government to act swiftly to effect the release of Ms. Ferraris and to demand an immediate explanation from the Indonesian government.

We join the call for the new administration of Philippine President Aquino to send a strong message to the international community that it is committed to protecting its citizens from abuses committed on foreign soil, even if it is by a foreign government.


In Solidarity,

Siti Maemunah, TKPT - JATAM, Indonesia
Grace Villnueva, Legal Right Action - FoE Phlilipine, Philipine
Meggie Nollasco, Kalikasan - PNE, Phillipine
Jill K. Carino, Cordilera People Alliance Phillipina
Matilda Coma, CERD - Centre for Environmental Research and Development in
Papua New Guinea
Virginia Damay, APITAKO, Phillipina
Sushila Marar, DHAATRI India
Bhanumati Khaluri, DHAATRI India
Barbara Gala, RIMM International secretariat
Martha Agbani, Lokiaka Community Develpoment Centre, Nigeria
Ana Maria Anaribar, Latin Amerika Network of Women and Mining, Bolovia
Donna Villamor - Cordilera People Alliance Phillipina
Sarah Dekdeken, Cordilera People Alliance Phillipina
Beth Bughtong, Tebtebba Phillipina
Rosario Laime , Red National Mujeres y Mineria, Bolivia
Vernie Diano, Innabuyog Phillipina
Emi Careon, Innabuyog Phillipina
Blanca Alcaion, Latin Amerika Network of Women and Mining, Chile
Olindo Orosco, Latin Amerika Network of Women and Mining, Peru

The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center is a legal and policy research nongovernmental organization in the Philippines known for its work on indigenous people's rights and natural resources issues. (Mindanao Examiner)


We Condemn the Arrest of Anti-Coal Campaigners in Indonesia and

Call for Greater Regional Solidarity Against Deadly Coal Projects

LRC-KsK letter

7 July 2010

Quezon City, Philippines - We strongly condemn the baseless arrests of our colleague Jean Marie Ferraris and her fellow international anti-coal campaigners by Indonesian police in Cirebon, West Java on July 5. The apprehension of the 12 activists from the Philippines, China, Thailand and India came on the last day of peaceful training activity hosted by an anti-coal coal community in Cirebon.

Jean, and the other anti-coal activists came to Cirebon to talk about the experience of their own countries where coal projects are facing increasing resistance. Jean in particular was there to share with local communities the experience of our own community partners in Lake Sebu, South Cotabato and Maasim, Sarangani,both in the Southern Philippines who are also facing the threat of coal mining and environmental degradation from coal-fired power plants. The activists were also attending a training on campaigning for clean renewable energy alternatives.

The surprise arrests came as they were attending a press conference organized by Greenpeace and local groups in Indonesia to launch a region-wide manifesto against the expansion of coal power plants in Asia. The activists were detained and interrogated for almost 48 hours, first on the basis of "visa irregularities" and later, after this was disproved, on the nebulous charge of "causing instability".

We believe there can be no justification for the grossly exaggerated response from the Indonesian police authorities. The deployment of over a hundred police elements to arrest a handful of activists who were already on their last day in Indonesia clearly suggests that the apprehension was really aimed at harassing the support groups and intimidating the local community which is strongly opposed to the presence of the coal plant operated by Cirebon Elektrik Power Ltd, a consortium of Japanese, Korean ad Indonesian investors.

We are outraged that Iocal authorities attempted to disrupt a legitimate, non-violent gathering of international activists and communities. We are disturbed that this was apparently done because of their firm stand against coal and it's deadly impact on peoples health and livelihood, the environment, and the worsening climate crisis.

The misguided move by the Indonesian authorities has clearly backfired. Their heavy-handed act has only served to draw more attention to the growing opposition to deadly coal and has strengthened the solidarity between peoples of the region who want nothing to do with this dirty and deadly source of energy.

The Indonesian government should realize by now that no amount of harassment and threats can quiet enraged communities nor quell protests and struggles against the devastation of the environment, the plunder of natural resources and the destruction of life.

No to Deadly Coal!

Protect the Rights of Community Rights Defenders!

Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan
(LRC-KsK/Friends of the Earth-Phils)

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