The Jakarta Post
Thirty Greenpeace activists and members of veteran Indonesian rock band Boomerang occupied a palm oil refinery belonging to Singapore-based palm oil trader Wilmar International on Tuesday in protest of the company’s alleged “dirty palm oil” practices.
“Wilmar has been promising to clean up its supply chain since 2013. Yet it is still buying palm oil from forest destroyers,” Kiki Taufik, head of Greenpeace’s global Indonesia forests campaign, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Wilmar should only buy palm oil from producers it can prove are clean. That is what Wilmar CEO Kuok Khoon Hong promised almost five years ago.”
In a report released last week, Greenpeace claimed that 25 palm oil producers had cleared 130,000 hectares of rainforest since 2015, 18 of which supplied palm oil to Wilmar.
Indonesian rock band Boomerang performs on top of a silo at the Wilmar International refinery in Bitung, North Sulawesi. (Greenpeace/Dhemas Reviyanto)
“This refinery is loaded with Wilmar’s dirty palm oil and if we weren’t here it would be on its way to factories and supermarkets all over the world,” said Yeb Sano, executive director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia, speaking from one of the activist boats at the palm oil refinery.
“The message to big brands like Unilever, Nestlé and Mondelez is simple: cut Wilmar off until it can prove its palm oil is clean.”
The Greenpeace team occupying the refinery included activists from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, the United Kingdom, France and Australia.
Boomerang, which has become known for its activism, also performed on top of storage tanks at the refinery.
“The state of Indonesia’s forests is very saddening, which has motivated me to get involved in this peaceful protest,” Boomerang vocalist Andi Babas said. “Hopefully this can serve as a warning for companies to be more careful about the environmental impacts of their activities.”
In 2015, Boomerang took part in efforts to mitigate forest and peatland fires in Kalimantan. In October 2016, the group released the song "Rakyat Hutan" (Forest People) to raise awareness about deforestation in the country.
In response to the occupation, Wilmar urged Greenpeace to take “collaborative action” with the company if it wanted to improve the palm oil industry.
“Greenpeace’s action at Wilmar’s palm oil refinery in Bitung is not only a criminal act of trespassing and vandalism but a safety risk to the activists as well as Wilmar staff,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
Greenpeace activist from Malaysia Farhan Nasa (left) is escorted by immigration officials during the action in Bitung, North Sulawesi. (Greenpeace/Dhemas Reviyanto)
“No organization is above the law, and we urge Greenpeace to adopt a collaborative mindset and work with the palm oil industry to take genuine and positive action.”
Wilmar also disputed Greenpeace’s claims about the companies it sourced palm oil from.
“It must be clarified that, out of the 25 companies listed , Wilmar is buying from 13 supplier groups, not 18 as alleged in the report,” the company said, adding that 11 of the 13 companies have been put on Wilmar’s grievance list.
“Greenpeace’s allegation that Wilmar is failing at monitoring our supply chain is based on a willful lack of understanding of our work on the ground.” (kmt/ahw)