Offener Brief

Protestbrief wegen der Waldbrände in Indonesien

04. Oktober 1997



Foto: Nordin

Viele Leute haben uns gefragt, was sie tun können, um der derzeitigen Katastrophe in Indonesien Einhalt zu gebieten. Leider mußten wir ihnen sagen, daß man von außen nicht allzuviel tun kan, außer vielleicht Geld an Hilfsorganisationen zu spenden, die die betroffene Bevölkerung in Kalimantan, Sumatra, Irian Jaya und anderswo mit Atemschutzmasken und Medikamenten zu versorgen. Die andere Möglichkeit ist, Protestbriefe an Präsident Suharto zu schreiben, denn er ist verantwortlich für diese Verwüstung seines wunderschönen Landes. Es ist nicht das erste mal, daß Indonesien mit Bränden wie diesen konfrontiert ist, und bislang versäumte es die Regierung Vorsorgemaßnahmen zu ergreifen, um eine immer und immer wiederkehrende Wiederholung zu vermeiden.

Viele von Ihnen finden wohl kaum die Zeit, einen eigenen Brief zu formulieren. Wir haben uns daher entschlossen, einen Protestbrief für Sie zu entwerfen. Bitte senden Sie diesen Brief im Wortlaut oder schreiben Sie ähnliche Briefe in Ihren eigenen Worten. Senden Sie den Brief per Post oder schicken Sie ein Fax an eine der folgenden Nummern:

+ 62 – 21 – 345 77 89 oder
+ 62 – 21 – 360 517 oder
+ 62 – 21 – 345 26 85

Vielen Dank!



The President of the Republic of Indonesia
Mr. Suharto
Istana Negara
Jl. Veteran

Dear Mr. President,

I am very concerned about the continuous flow of news on devastating forest fires throughout the Indonesian archipelago. Not only that these fires destroyed up to 1 million hectares of the most diverse and valuable tropical forests on earth, but also causing hardship and even death to millions of people in Indonesia and its neighboring countries. The fires have caused dangerous smog of most of Asia, with the Air Pollution Index reported to be six times higher the normal level in parts of Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia. More than 40,000 people have been hospitalized. It is estimated that the fires released 220 to 290 million tons of CO2 (about 50% of UK’s annual emission) increasing climate change with effects such as the current El Niño in the future.

Clear evidence obtained from satellite imagery shows that 42% of the area affected by forest fires is caused by plantation companies using fires for land clearing and 37% by timber concessions. Small slash and burn farmers account for only 9%. The Ministry for Environment has approved these figures.

Nevertheless almost no legal actions have been taken by the Indonesian authorities. Out of 176 companies named by the government for being responsible for forest fires only 29 have been announced for cancellation of their logging licences. The Indonesian law on the environment says that people responsible for environmental crimes may be fined or even jailed. Arson is clearly punishable under the criminal act. So far, major responsible companies such as PT. Musi Hutan Persada, PT. Kiani Lestari, PT Indah Kiat all owned by well connected timber and plantation tycoons, Prajogo Pangestu, Bob Hasan and Eka Tjipta Widjaya, despite a well documented history of forest mismanagement, unsustainable logging, expropriation of local people, and their widespread use of fire for land clearing, are again no subject of law enforcement.

So far only 20 poor migrant farmers in East Kalimantan have been arrested once again misusing small-scale farmers as scape-goats, shamefully inadequate given the magnitude of the tragedy.

In the light of this disaster it is unbelievable that the Indonesian government is going ahead with the plan of clearing 1 million hectare of peat swamp forest for transmigration in Central Kalimantan. To prepare the peat soil for cultivation the top peat layers and forests would be burned, releasing additional 20 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. It is even more shameful that for the realization of this plan Indonesia’s reforestation funds will be misused in the same manner as they were misused earlier by the Minister of Technology to help financing the aircraft industry. By law this reforestation funds is set aside side solely for reforestation.

I call on you,

1. To ensure that all responsible companies and their managers will be prosecuted,
2. To compensate all affected people in Indonesia and elsewhere for economic losses and damages to their health,
3. To cancel plans for large scale forest conversion in Central Kalimantan and the Mamberamo watershed in Irian Jaya,
4. To stop misusing reforestation funds,
5. To stop scape-goating local communities,
6. To stop corruption, incompetence, and pure profit-seeking in Indonesia’s forestry sector,
7. And to check your and your family’s personal responsibility for this massive ecological, social, and economical disaster affecting not only Indonesia but also the whole earth.

Yours sincerely

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