Suspicions raised surrounding attempt to deport activist
The immigration office claimed on Monday that it did not issue a warrant to deport Greenpeace campaigner Andrew Ross Tait, prompting speculation that the warrant shown to him and other Greenpeace activists on Saturday was fake.
Events surrounding the attempt to deport Tait were also suspicious.
According to Greenpeace, Tait had been followed by two unknown individuals while he waited for a cab at his hotel in Kemang, South Jakarta. Tait was traveling to Halim Perdanakusuma Airport, where he planned to join Greenpeace’s flyover to Sumatra (not Kalimantan, as earlier reported) to observe forest deforestation on the island.
As Tait mingled with other Greenpeace members at the airport, three men, including the two individuals who had followed him from the hotel, approached the group and showed a deportation warrant, which ordered that Tait be deported back to England, his home country. The deportation attempt failed as Tait and other Greenpeace members found out that the deportation warrant contained many irregularities. No photograph of Tait and no official stamp from the directorate general of immigration could be seen on the warrant. Even Tait’s full name and passport number were written erroneously.
On Monday, Maryoto, spokesperson for the immigration directorate general at the Law and Human Rights Ministry, told The Jakarta Post that the immigration directorate general had never issued a deportation warrant to any Greenpeace campaigner on Saturday. “There was no deportation attempt by the immigration directorate general to Andrew Ross Tait,” Maryoto said.
This statement raises suspicions over the possibility of efforts directed at intimidating Greenpeace, which has made many enemies following its recent revelations of forest destruction, allegedly carried out by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), one of the world’s largest paper companies that is controlled by Sinar Mas Group. The revalations are included in a report entitled How Sinar Mas is Pulping the Planet.
Since Greenpeace’s allegations against APP were made public, the organization had experienced various forms of intimidation and attacks, apparently directed toward halting the former’s investigations.
In addition to the recent deportation attempt against Tait, on Thursday last week, Greenpeace UK executive director, John Sauven, was denied entry to Indonesia by the government at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, in spite of Sauven holding an official visa that had been issued from the Indonesian Embassy in London.
Greenpeace Indonesia media campaigner, Hikmat Suryatanuwijaya, said on Monday that efforts to suppress Greenpeace were normal, since Greenpeace’s work and published reports placed various industries’ interests at stake.
“These deforestation acts were carried out by industries, and here we are talking about big, big industries with massive financial power and political clout,” Hikmat said.
APP has repeatedly denied Greenpeace’s string of allegations. In its official release, distributed to the press on Jun. 7, APP’s Head of Sustainability and Stakeholder Engagement, Aniela Maria, urged Greenpeace to “Do the responsible thing and share with the public the detailed scientific analysis and independent results.”
“Regarding the recent Greenpeace issues, [the attacks on Greenpeace] are in no way related to our operations,” said Aniela when she was contacted by the Post on Monday. (sat)