The Jakarta Post
The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) has urged the National Police and its personnel to carry out a comprehensive and in-depth investigation into the murder of environmental activist Jopi Teguh Lesmana Peranginangin.
Jopi, who was a member of the environmental group Sawit Watch, was stabbed to death outside a night club in Kemang, South Jakarta, on Saturday.
According to a press release published by Kontras on Saturday, a witness said that Jopi was attacked by a group of robust men with crew cuts after Jopi tried to mediate a fight between his friend, identified as A, and the group. The perpetrator, according to a witness, claimed that he was a member of the military.
'The murder of Jopi is added to the list of violent crimes against activists and human rights defenders in Indonesia, violence which is causing the society to feel unsafe,' said the press release by the Kontras deputy coordinator Krisbiantoro.
The latest case against an environment activist was on Feb. 27, when a farmer-cum-activist Indra Pelani, was murdered, allegedly by security guards of the forest industry company PT Wira Karya Sakti in Tebo, Jambi, which is owned by Asia Pulp and Paper (APP), according to a press release by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) in Jambi.
Jefri Gideon Saragih, the executive director of Sawit Watch, an NGO addressing the negative impacts of oil palm plantations, said on Sunday that before his death, Jopi had just finished research into massive oil palm plantation expansions that allegedly involved corruption and improper licensing procedures.
'The research was carried out in North Kalimantan and Central Sulawesi, and its goal was to draft local regulations that could limit and control plantation licensing,' he said over the phone, adding that the research results were going to be published in a book.
He went on to say that his office did not know yet if the incident had anything to do with the activities of Jopi, whose latest position in Sawit Watch was as a campaigner and project head of oil palm plantation licensing research.
'However, this incident has caused activists to be more cautious about what we are doing,' he said, expressing hope that the perpetrator could be nabbed soon and processed through the prevailing legal procedures so that no speculations spread out in the public.
According to Jefri, who started his tenure at the Sawit Watch in 2013 after years at the Indigenous People's Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), the case investigation was still running well.
'We have our in-house lawyer watching the investigation. Some NGOs, like Kontras and AMAN, are also accompanying the process so that the truth of the case can be revealed to the public,' he said, adding that his office would provide data and information required by the police in solving the case.
AMAN deputy secretary-general Mina Susana Sestra said on Sunday that Jopi's death was a big loss to her and her organization.
'He had done many things for AMAN. He initiated all of our media outlets, such as our magazine and community radio station, to disseminate information about our movement and encourage indigenous people to get involved,' she said over the phone.
Mina said Jopi had been involved in many organizations, such as the leftist League of National Students for Democracy (LMND), Tanah Merdeka Foundation, Greenpeace, AMAN and Sawit Watch.
'He was more than just an activist to us but also a cheerful friend with a straightforward manner. We are shocked that this kind of incident happened to someone in our close circle,' she said. (prm)