A worker unloads palm fruit in a palm oil plantation in Peat Jaya, Jambi province, on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, September 15, 2015. (Wahyu Putro A / Antara Foto / Photo file via REUTERS)
JAKARTA: The killing of two Indonesian activists, allegedly ordered by a palm oil businessman according to the police, highlights the escalation of violence and the threats that face environmentalists defying the industry, according to human rights groups.
Martua Parasian Siregar, 55, and Maraden Sianipar, 42, were found dead 10 days ago, stabbed wounded around a palm grove near the island of North Sumatra.
Environmental activists and media guards said the two men were former journalists who had been involved in a dispute between the palm oil company that was exploiting the land and the residents local.
Police said Friday they arrested the oil company manager Amelia, identified as "H" or "Harry," suspected of paying several men about $ 3,000 to kill the two activists.
"This reinforces our suspicion of human rights abuses in palm oil companies," said Dana Prima Tarigan, who heads the green group of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI), who had met the men before the death.
"It's a threat to activists and journalists," he told Reuters.
Police said the palm oil concession where the bodies of the men were found was closed by the government in 2018 for illegally clearing acres of forest.
The two activists were working with local farmers to take control of the palm harvest in the area, the police said.
"The motive for the incident revolves around a land dispute case," North Sumatra police chief Agus Andrianto told reporters, adding that four more suspects had been arrested and three others still in custody. leak.
"We firmly believe that H asked someone to get rid of the men … or to slaughter them when they went to the scene," said Andrianto, adding that "H" had denied the charges.
According to local media reports, "H" was the Wibharry businessman "Harry" Padmoasmolo, who headed Amelia. Reuters could not reach him immediately for a comment.
For civil society groups, the murders show that human rights abuses in the world's $ 60 billion palm oil trade remain widespread and widespread. that bullies are more and more intimidating.
The killings took place a few weeks after the death of Golfrid Siregar, an environmental lawyer at WALHI in North Sumatra.
Although police said his death was a car accident, human rights groups said the circumstances were mysterious and called for further investigation.
Palm oil, the most widely used edible oil in the world, is found in margarine, going through biscuits and soaps, but has been subject to monitoring Increased in recent years critics who accuse his production of being responsible for the loss of forest, fires and exploitation of workers.
Indonesia and Malaysia produce 85% of the world's palm oil.
"Our palm oil industry was and remains built on the stained blood and suffering of the locals," said Annisa Rahmawati, a Greenpeace activist, when she was questioned about the murders of the two activists.
(tagsToTranslate) Indonesia (t) assassinations of oil palm kernels (t)