Environmental group Greenpeace has lashed out at the Jakarta administration’s decision to seal off its office for zoning violations, calling the move just the latest attack in a corporate-backed smear campaign against the organization.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia media campaigner Hikmat Soeriatanuwijaya said the group had been unfairly targeted.
“The continued attacks against Greenpeace started when we launched our global campaign against Asia Pulp and Paper by exposing evidence of APP forest destruction in early June this year,” he said.
He declined, however, to say who Greenpeace believed was behind the smear campaign.
“Although we know who it is, we don’t want to mention the particular company or party because we don’t have a capacity to investigate it,” Hikmat said.
The statements came as the Jakarta Building Control and Monitoring Office (P2B) said it had served notice to Greenpeace on Wednesday about the closure and would proceed with sealing off its office on Jalan Kemang Utara in South Jakarta next Monday.
Agus Supriyono, P2B’s head of enforcement, said the office had been built in an area designated for residential buildings only.
“Like any other building that violates regulations, we will have to seal off this building,” he said.
“We will only unseal it once the building owners have restored it as a residential property. So that means that come Monday, Greenpeace must stop all activities at its office.”
Agus denied that his office had been pressured by outside parties to move against Greenpeace, calling the matter a simple zoning issue. He added that an office building next to the Greenpeace office would also be sealed off.
However, several other office and commercial buildings on the same street have been allowed to operate as usual.
“We don’t have a problem with Greenpeace. We’re just doing our job, which is to enforce zoning regulations and take measures against violating buildings,” Agus said.
“If Greenpeace wants to relocate its offices, they’re welcome to do so, just as long as they do so in an area where it’s permissible.”
Widyo Dwiyono, head of the South Jakarta P2B office, echoed the point that the entire Kemang area was designated as a residential zone, making it imperative that Greenpeace move.
Kemang is also home to scores of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops, very few of which have ever been sealed off or cited for zoning violations.
Hikmat said Greenpeace found it humorous how its “persecutor” kept coming up with different ways of attacking the organization, including past allegations that it was funded by lottery money and that it was intent on stalling Indonesian economic development by attacking the country’s palm oil industry.
“We’re not against the palm oil industry, nor do we want to stop Indonesian economic development,” he said. “All we are asking for is responsible industrial practices by implementing sustainable industrial development rather than destroying and exploiting the rainforest.
“It needs to be understood that Greenpeace’s campaigns focus on saving the Indonesian rainforest, hence we continue to urge all companies to save the rainforest through sustainable industrial development.”
Hikmat added that Greenpeace was aware it faced opposition to its work, but said attacks and pressure would not stop it from campaigning for better environmental stewardship.
“We just hope that the media and society don’t get the wrong idea about our mission in Indonesia because we just want to save the Indonesian rainforest,” he said.
Last month, a Greenpeace UK forest campaigner was deported from Indonesia for reasons that were never made clear. That incident took place less than a week after the Greenpeace UK director was denied entry into the country despite arriving with a valid visa.
Nur Hidayati, head of Greenpeace Indonesia, said at the time that the group was “coming under attack in Indonesia because of our work to stop deforestation in the country.”
Lawmakers and religious leaders have publicly questioned the source of the group’s funding, while hard-line groups have claimed it is working in the country illegally because it is not registered with the Jakarta administration.
Critics of Greenpeace have also accused it of targeting APP while ignoring foreign companies that operate in Indonesia. APP, though, is foreign, being based in Singapore.