For generations, the Indigenous Batak communities of Northern Sumatra have harvested and traded the sap from the trees in their sacred benzoin forests. The sap is used for the production of incense and perfumes, and exported to the international market. The villages thrived and forests were healthy.
Today, these communities are fighting for their lands and livelihoods against the controversial paper giant APRIL. Please write to APRIL’s CEO Sukanto Tanoto today and ask APRIL to peacefully resolve this conflict now and return the community lands it has stolen.
Earlier this week, hundreds of villagers risked life and limb by standing between their forest home and the machinery of APRIL’s logging operations. In response, Indonesia’s notoriously abusive security agency, known as Brimob, was called in to forcibly suppress the protest. At least 16 village members have now been arrested in connection to this latest dispute.
This land conflict is just one example of the widespread human rights violations that have plagued APRIL’s operations for many years. This case has been simmering since 2009, when an APRIL affiliate began deforesting the community’s territory and planting eucalyptus plantations on their ancestral land.
Last September, APRIL workers and security forces again began to clear forest on the Batak communities’ land. The community gathered in large numbers to stop the machinery, confiscating weapons and chainsaws from the logging crew. Three days later, eight villagers were summoned to the police station. Instead, nearly 1,000 community members arrived in an inspiring act of solidarity.
We must stand with these communities. This remains a dangerous and unresolved confrontation between a major corporation seeking to maximize profits and an Indigenous people desperately seeking to preserve their identity and ancestral lands.
APRIL’s massive logging operations have run roughshod over the rights of local communities for far too long. Please write to APRIL’s CEO and let him know these practices are unacceptable and must stop now.
For the forests, Lafcadio CortesiRainforest Free Paper campaigner
Rainforest Action Network425 Bush Street, 3rd Floor, San Francisco, CA 94108 USA Phone: (415) 398-4404 Fax: (415) 398-2732