Greenpeace Southeast Asia

What happens when the good people do good – Part 3 by Chuck Baclagon

From Sarah Burton, now in Jakarta:

I have learned that in campaigning things can change overnight, of course, and in this campaign, I have learned that things can change two or three times overnight.  Here’s what happened overnight.

Yesterday one of our volunteers at the climate camp, a technical specialist from Brussels, was removed by the local police to their local station. Meanwhile a couple of journalists from India and Italy and a few more Greenpeace activists and campaigners were on their way from Pekanbaru to the camp. The police car hauling our volunteer away saw them coming down the road. The upshot is that all were detained at a local police station and questioned to the wee small hours. Then they were put up for the night locally and made to return next morning (that would be this morning actually) for more questioning.

And the story the authorities tells keeps changing: they are being detained on immigration charges, they are being detained but not charged, they are on the wrong visas, they have the wrong (or no) paperwork to travel in the region.  But we can see what is happening, there is a fear of international attention for the campaign.  And this is what gets me – this is not a local issue for Riau province, this is not even a national issue alone (for Indonesia I mean): the preservation of the rainforest is a global issue if ever there was one.  The destruction of Indonesia’s rainforest actually makes Indonesia the 3rd largest climate gas emitter after the Uand China!  How extraordinary is that?  The Indonessan President has started making commitments to address that at Copenhagen in December. His committments to reduce emissions were made on the international stage.  So saving these forests, stopping the destruction, is an issue for us all to help make happen.  And, as members of the international community, we must ensure that the Indonesian authorities responsible for this intimidation hear that loud and clear.

Oh, yes, more on the ground things happening of course.  The local community members who came out in such strong support for Greenpeace and our work in the forest when I last reported, are returning to the camp, furious at the removal of our Belgian volunteer, and wanting to defend the camp and the campaign. It is their campaign as much as ours of course, and we are delighted with that strong and evident support.

I expect that over the next hours and days things will change and change again. But what I know (for certain) is that this campaign will go on. That Greenpeace’s global community and the community beyond that with whom we work to preserve the forests will also do what is right and support our continued work here. That in this moment, on this issue, when we are effectively a few working days away from the Copenhagen summit, we will not falter and we certainly will not stop.

>> Read more about the Climate Defenders Camp

>> Join the call for an ambitious deal at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen this December including a forest fund

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