Indonesia updatePublished by MAC on 2007-08-31
31st August 2007
Human Rights Groups defend WALHI against terrorism slur
Joint Press Release by Indonesian Human Rights Groups
31st August 2007
Human Rights Working Group; Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras); Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial); Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI); Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI); Institute for Policy Studies and Advocacy (ELSAM); Demos Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies; Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta).
Indonesian human rights groups have defended WALHI against accusations made by Australian Senator Ian MacDonald and President Director of Newmont Minahasa Raya Richard Ness that the Indonesian Forum for Environment/Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) is affiliated with terrorist groups in Indonesia. The groups view the false claims as a reckless, manipulative and anti-democratic act, aimed at curtailing the freedom of human rights defenders.
In his speech in the Australian Senate on 9 August 2007, Senator MacDonald claimed that WALHI is allied with terrorist organisations in Indonesia, in similar language to that used in a letter sent to various parties and published on the internet by the President Director of Newmont Minahasa Raya. The accusations included repeating false claims made in a Straits Times newspaper article of 22 April 2006.
We have long known WALHI, which is the largest environment organisation in Indonesia, with 438 member organisations and which has been operating for over 27 years to defend the environment. WALHI clearly takes seriously its commitments to pluralism, democratic principles and non-violence, and is opposed to terrorism. The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH Jakarta), and the Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) are active members of WALHI. The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial), the Institute for Policy Studies and Advocacy (ELSAM), the Demos Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies, and the Commission for Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras) are strategic partners of WALHI in advocacy work on environment protection and human rights. In addition, as an organisation which campaigns for human rights, WALHI itself is an active member of the Human Rights Working Group.
Stigmatising an environmental and human rights organisation as being a part of a terrorist network severely impedes its ongoing advocacy work. We view these false accusations as part of a systematic attempt to distract the public by human rights and environment offenders who have been exploiting Indonesia’s natural resources. PT Newmont Minahasa Raya is currently facing a public interest civil lawsuit by WALHI over impacts on the environment and livelihoods in Buyat Bay, North Sulawesi, part of WALHI’s ongoing advocacy which began seven years ago. WALHI together with other environment and human rights groups also conducts advocacy in cases involving other Australian mining companies such as PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals (Newcrest Australia) in North Maluku since 2004.
1. Convey our strong protest against the acts of Senator Ian MacDonald and President Director Newmont Minahasa Raya Richard Ness in falsely claiming that WALHI / Friends of the Earth Indonesia is involved with terrorist networks;
2. Urge Senator Ian MacDonald and President Director Newmont Minahasa Raya Richard Ness to withdraw their claims against WALHI which are not based on facts and strong evidence;
3. Urge the President of the Australian Senate and the Directors of Newmont in the United States to immediately take firm steps against the claims made by Senator Ian MacDonald and President Director Newmont Minahasa Raya Richard Ness;
4. Support all environmental advocacy efforts made by WALHI / Friends of the Earth Indonesia in continuing to oppose environmental offenders and to protect Indonesia’s natural resources.
Jakarta, 31 August 2007
Rafendi Djamin (HRWG) / Usman Hamid (KontraS) / Asmara Nababan (DEMOS) / Poengky Indarti (Imparsial) / Agung Putri (ELSAM) / Patra M. Zen (YLBHI) / Asfinawati (LBH Jakarta) / Syamsudin Radjab (PBHI)