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Legal organization backs Greenpeace in fighting eviction for alleged zoning violation

The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and other local NGOs are supporting Greenpeace as it battles eviction from its office in Jakarta over an alleged zoning violation, reports The Jakarta Globe.

Alvon Kurnia Palma, deputy chairman of YLBHI, told the Jakarta Globe that the eviction notice against Greenpeace is flawed.

“It did not mention what bylaw the letter was issued on,” Alvon said. “The letter only said, ‘based on a DKI bylaw.’”

Alvon added that Greenpeace’s troubles come under wider persecution of local NGOs that receive funding from overseas and are challenging powerful interests.

“Other NGOs such as ICW [Indonesia Corruption Watch] also had to face scrutiny when it was revealed they received funding from abroad,” Alvon told the Jakarta Globe.

Greenpeace has found itself under increasing pressure since stepping up its campaign against Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) for conversion of tropical forests in Sumatra for acacia and eucalyptus plantations used for wood-pulp production. Last month Greenpeace’s Executive Director John Sauven was refused entry to Indonesia despite having a valid permit, while forest campaigner Andy Tait was harassed by individuals posing as authorities and then asked to leave the country when passing through immigration on his way back to the UK.

APP has denied any role in the Sauven incident, calling it “a government issue.”

Curiously, coinciding with Greenpeace’s legal troubles, was the launch of an anti-Greenpeace web site by the Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity, a U.S.-based group that advocates for the Indonesian pulp and paper industry, but won’t disclose its funding sources. Comments on the group’s Facebook page call for violence against Greenpeace activists, including assassination. APP says it supports, but does not fund, the group.

Greenpeace says these developments are part of an orchestrated smear campaign. The group told the Jakarta Post its operation in Jakarta has the proper permits which were approved by the district and subdistrict office in Jakarta. Greenpeace moved to the office last year from Central Jakarta.

Local authorities say they will “seal off” the building today.

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