Protestors in Indonesia sew up mouths to demonstrate against rainforest concession
This week twenty-eight Indonesians took the extreme measure of sewing their mouths shut in a protest against a forest concession on Padang Island. According to the Jakarta Globe, this is a protest turned into a hunger strike.
The protest started when around a hundred protesters, mostly natives of Padang Island, started a camp outside the Indonesian Senate building on December 19th to protest a logging concession held by PT Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper (RAPP) on their island, which lies off the east coast of Sumatra. One of the protest coordinators, Isnadi Esman, said that this 41,000 hectare concession extended over 37 percent of the island’s total area.
The islanders claim that the concession, originally granted in 2009, occurs on customary lands and will threaten both the environment and the small-scale agriculture on. The latter they depend on for subsistence. RAPP argues that if the islanders can prove the land was customary the company would move off.
The protesters have chosen to demonstrate outside the Indonesia Senate building despite the fact that important decisions regarding logging concessions rests in the hands of the regional government.
Mongabay write that, “earlier this year, RAPP was accused of clearing high conservation value forest in Riau province on Sumatra. The forest was a known wildlife corridor for Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae), listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List, among other species. RAPP is a major supplier of timber to Asian Pacific Resources International Holdings Limited (APRIL)”.
Sources: Jakarta Globe and Mongabay