Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Indonesia arrests Pinay activist, other environmentalists in West Java

Jean Marie Ferraris. (Photos courtesy of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center)

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 6, 2010) – Indonesian authorities have detained over a dozen people, including a Filipino environment activist, during a news conference in Western Java, the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center in Manila said.

It said Jean Marie Ferraris was arrested Monday along with other activists who are mostly members of the Greenpeace during a press conference in Cirebon City, site of a proposed coal-fired power plant.

“We denounce in the strongest possible terms the unwarranted arrest of Ms. Jean Marie Ferraris by misguided elements of the Indonesian police, who apparently barged into a peaceful press conference being held after a training activity organized by our friends from Greenpeace,” said Judy Pasimio, of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center.

She said Ferraris and 13 other NGO workers were arrested while they were explaining the harmful impact of coal plants on the environment and local communities.

“Jean was merely there to share the experience of our own partner communities who are also facing the threat of coal mining and environmental degradation from coal-fired power plants. She entered Indonesia legally and was attending a legitimate activity organized by an internationally-recognized environmental NGO. Her arrest and the arrest of the other participants were completely unjustified,” Pasimio said in a statement released Tuesday.

The arrests, she said, were conducted by some 100 Indonesian policemen who were reportedly accompanied by representatives of the coal power plant operated by Cirebon Elektrik Power Ltd.

“Clearly Indonesia still hasn’t completely shrugged off its authoritarian past. This latest episode evokes the time of Suharto when the coercive power of the state, through the police and the military were used to sow terror and choke democratic space. This abusive behavior has no place in a supposedly democratic country,” Pasimio said.

“We call on our government to act swiftly to affect the release of Ms. Ferraris and demand an immediate explanation from the Indonesian government. The new administration of President Aquino must send a strong message to the international community that it is committed to protecting our citizens from abuses committed on foreign soil, even if it is by a foreign government.”

Pasimio’s associate, Erwin Quinones, said the Filipino woman and the others are still being held in Western Java. He said four Indonesian journalists who attended the news conference witnessed the arrests.

“We are communicating with everybody about this incident,” he told the Mindanao Examiner.

The Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center is a legal and policy research nongovernmental organization in the Philippines known for its work on indigenous people’s rights and natural resources issues. (Mindanao Examiner)

No comments: