Left Menu
Development News Edition

RPT-Murder of Indonesia palm oil activists shows growing threat, rights groups say

Reuters | Jakarta | Updated: 11-11-2019 07:58 IST | Created: 11-11-2019 07:56 IST
RPT-Murder of Indonesia palm oil activists shows growing threat, rights groups say
Image Credit: Pixabay

The murder of two Indonesian activists, which police say was ordered by a palm oil businessman, highlights the escalating violence and threats faced by environmentalists who challenge the industry, rights groups say.

Martua Parasian Siregar, 55, and Maraden Sianipar, 42, were found dead 10 days ago with multiple stab wounds near a palm plantation in the island of North Sumatra. Environmental campaigners and media watchdogs say the two men were former journalists who had got involved in a dispute between the palm oil company that operated the land and local residents.

Police said on Friday they had arrested the head of the Amelia palm oil company, who they identified only as "H" or "Harry", on suspicion of having paid several men about $3,000 to kill the two activists. "This strengthens our suspicion that human rights violations in palm oil companies are rampant," said Dana Prima Tarigan, who heads green group the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI), which had met with the men prior to the deaths.

"This is a threat to activists and journalists," she told Reuters. Police said the palm oil concession where the men's bodies were found was closed by the government in 2018 for illegally clearing hectares of forest area.

The two activists had been working with local farmers to gain control of the palm crop there, police said. "The motive of the incident revolves around a land conflict case," North Sumatra Police Chief Agus Andrianto told reporters, adding that four other suspects had been arrested in the case, with another three still at large.

"We highly believe that H instructed someone to get rid of the men ... or slaughter them when they came to the property," Andrianto said, adding that "H" had denied the allegations. Local media reports said "H" was businessman Wibharry "Harry" Padmoasmolo, who ran Amelia. Reuters was not able to immediately reach him for comment.

For civil society groups, the killings show that rights abuses in the $60-billion global palm oil trade remain widespread, with growing intimidation against those who investigate them. The murders come weeks after the death of WALHI environmental lawyer Golfrid Siregar in North Sumatra.

Although police have said his death was a road accident, rights groups say the circumstances were mysterious and have called for further investigation. Palm oil, the world's most widely used edible oil, is found in everything from margarine to biscuits and soaps, but has faced growing scrutiny in recent years from critics who blame its production for forest loss, fires and worker exploitation.

Indonesia and Malaysia produce 85% of global palm oil. "Our palm oil industry was, and is, built upon the smeared blood and suffering of residents," Greenpeace campaigner Annisa Rahmawati said when asked about the two activists' murders.



Turbulence surrounding tobacco control in Ghana

... ...

Smart healthcare: IoT redefining the way healthcare is delivered

As the world is embracing the new wave of digitalization triggered by the pandemic and the arrival of 5G, the adoption of IoT devices will further boom. With adoption set to soar, IoT security issues and other challenges cant be ignored any...

Refugee compassion and response: Ideas to mitigate disasters now and in their future

Their homeland becomes a forbidden territory for them and more likely than not, their journey to foreign soil is no less traumatizing, not to say deadly. It is crucial to help refugees live a life of dignity and purpose....

Inadequate water infrastructure causes a tidal wave of coronavirus in rural Alaska

... ...


Latest News

We've been forgotten in COVID-19 easing, say French restaurants

Restaurant owner Jean Avarello is struggling to understand why in the next few weeks the shops and theatres near him in the French city of Marseille will be allowed to reopen after a COVID-19 lockdown, but he has to stay shut. Thats not oka...

Pak looks forward to working with new US administration: top official

Pakistan looks forward to working with the new US administration to further strengthen bilateral ties and continue partnership to achieve peace, stability, and prosperity in the region, a top government official said on Thursday. In 2018, t...

Centre wants to suppress leaders from oppn parties in Kashmir: PDP

The PDP on Thursday alleged that the Centre wants to create an atmosphere of fear in Kashmir and suppress the leaders from opposition parties in the valley. Addressing a press conference at party headquarters here, PDP general secretary Ghu...

Farmers’ Delhi Chalo protest march: Patkar stopped at Raj-UP border

On her way to Delhi from Maharashtra to protest against the Centres farm laws there, Social activist Medha Patkar was on Thursday prevented from entering Uttar Pradesh at its border with Rajasthan, officials said. Patkar was stopped by the ...

Give Feedback