Greenpeace Activist Detained In Riau

Published: Thu 19 Nov 2009 12:54 PM
Foreign Reporters, Greenpeace Activist Detained In Riau
Budi Otmansyah & Fidelis E Satriastanti
Police in Riau’s Pelalawan district arrested two foreign journalists and a Belgian Greenpeace activist on Monday, saying that they had not provided authorities with the proper paperwork.
Raimondo Bultrini, an Italian reporter from la Repubblica newspaper, and a journalist identified as Kumkum from India’s Hindustan Times were arrested by the Pelalawan Police on Monday afternoon along with Belgian national Tom Keunen.
“We secured three foreign nationals, two journalists and a Greenpeace activist, for questioning at the Pelalawan Police headquarters,” said Adj. Chief Comr. Ari Rahman Nafarin, the district police chief. “They then will be asked to fill in all the required documents for reporting in Riau.”
Ari said the foreigners did not have the required permits needed from the National Police and the Ministry of Communication, such as a letter to report to local authorities and a permit for working and reporting.
“They have been asked to complete the paperwork so they can stay at the Greenpeace camp on the Kampar River. The arrests were conducted by the book,” he said.
Both journalists, Ari acknowledged, had reported to the Pelalawan Police station on Monday, but left without providing the required documents.
Meanwhile, Keunen reportedly only had his passport and a temporary visit visa. “He stayed at a local resident’s house in Meranti Bay,” Ari said.
“The presence of a foreigner in a local village is certainly questionable, and we only carried out the required procedures.”
The three detainees were accompanied by Greenpeace legal counselor Susila Ningtias and an interpreter.
“They were only asked for information,” Ari said, “if they complete their paperwork, we surely will let them go.”
Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s spokesman Zamzami said four police officers had used force to arrest Keunen. He said police had entered Greenpeace’s makeshift climate defenders’ camp without showing an arrest warrant or satisfactorily explaining their actions.
“Tom was nabbed by force to the police headquarters, while the arrested foreign journalists were also nabbed on their way to Pangkalan Bunut, Pelalawan,” he explained.
Authorities have already ordered the deportation of 11 foreign Greenpeace activists and detained 21 Indonesians from the group. They had taken part in a rally at a forest area recently cleared for a timber estate to supply a pulp and paper factory in the provine.
Meanwhile, the new minister of forestry, Zulkifli Hasan, denied allegations that action was being taken against Greenpeace.
He said that the company clearing the forest had all the necessary paperwork, including a recommendation from the local governor.
“If a national company is proven guilty of any violations, we will act,” he said. “But if not, then it could disrupt investment in Indonesia.”
Zulkifli also said that he had received reports that the environmental organization had tried to film their extreme protest actions to show at next month’s UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen.
“It was like a movie scenario. They were strapping themselves to the excavators, but when it rained, they took off,” he said.
Separately, the British government has announced that it will assist Indonesia to achieve its ambitious goal of reducing carbon emissions by 41 percent. It also vowed to gather further support for Indonesia from other developed nations.
“We would like to help the Indonesian government realize its target on carbon emission reduction,” said Joan Ruddock, Britain’s minister for energy and climate change. “It is in accord with the statement by the Indonesian president, who has an ambitious target of reducing carbon emissions by 26 percent [by 2020], and by 41 percent with the support of the international community.”
Speaking after attending a meeting in Pekanbaru with a local NGO about deforestation in Riau, Ruddock said her visit to the region had nothing to do with the issue surrounding Greenpeace.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced the lofty voluntary emissions targets at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh in September.

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