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Second Greenpeace activist deported from Indonesia

Andy Tait became the second Greenpeace campaigner deported from Indonesia in less than a week.

Tait, who was in Indonesia to visit areas of forest and peatland allegedly cleared in Sumatra by companies that supply Asia Pulp & Paper, was detained at Jakarta’s international airport when leaving the country. He was interviewed by immigration officials and then deported, despite holding an official business visa and having entered the country without incident last week.

Tait’s deportation came just days after Greenpeace UK’s Executive Director John Sauven was prevented from entering Indonesia. Immigration officials refused to explain why Sauven — who had a valid business visa — was not allowed to enter the country, but suspicion immediately fell on pressure from the private sector, specifically interests that have been targeted by Greenpeace’s anti-deforestation campaign. One high-placed official acknowledged as such, but wasn’t willing to speak on the record.

A network of tracks in a huge deforested area among pristine forest. © Greenpeace / Daniel Beltra

Reports in Indonesian media seem to support the official’s claim. Tait was earlier stopped by an immigration official when he tried to travel to Sumatra. During that incident, the official attempted to use a deportation letter that contained a number of errors and lacked an official stamp. Officials later “[fabricated] a story Tait had falsified his documents to come to Indonesia” but the UK Embassy quashed that assertion by confirming the validity of Tait’s passport, according to Greenpeace.

Greenpeace said the incidents reflect a smear campaign against Greenpeace in Indonesia.

“Greenpeace is coming under attack in Indonesia because of our work to stop deforestation in the country,” said Nur Hidayati, head of Greenpeace’s Indonesia office. “The strength of this attack has increased significantly as our work has focused on APP’s role in rainforest destruction.”

“But blocking Greenpeace campaigners from Indonesia won’t stop our work to end deforestation in the country and won’t help APP to hide from the truth about their role in rainforest destruction. The company is linked to corruption, illegal logging scandals and community conflicts but it appears to operate with impunity.”

A spokesman for APP had no comment on the action against Sauven.

“It is a matter for the Indonesian government,” said the spokesmen.

Map of APP's concessions in the Kerumutan Peat Swamp Forest
The 1.3 million hectare Kerumutan Peat Swamp Forest.

Map of APP's concessions in Sumatra
Click image to view map.

Sauven’s immigration incident came the same day a U.S. group that advocates on behalf of Indonesian pulp and paper suppliers launched an anti-Greenpeace web site.

Greenpeace is in the midst of a campaign against APP, which it says is destroying key tiger habitat and carbon-rich peatlands in Riau and Jambi provinces on the island of Sumatra. The campaign has highlighted products that contain “mixed tropical hardwoods”, which indicate they are sourced from logging of rainforests.

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Why is Indonesia afraid of Greenpeace?

(10/18/2011) Last week Indonesian immigration officials in Jakarta blocked Greenpeace director John Sauven from entering the country. Sauven, who two weeks earlier had obtained the proper business visa for his visit from the Indonesian embassy in London, was scheduled to convene with his team in Jakarta, travel to the island of Sumatra, and meet with officials and Indonesian businesses at a forestry conference. The following day, Greenpeace campaigner Andrew Tait was harassed by unknown individuals who attempted to serve him with a deportation warrant.

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