Greenpeace U.K. forests campaigner Andy Tait second executive to be detained then deported by Indonesia; organization says it will not stop campaigns to halt deforestation

JAKARTA, Indonesia , October 20, 2011 (press release) – After Preventing Greenpeace UK’s Executive Director John Sauven from entering Indonesia, Immigration authorities today clamped down further on Greenpeace by detaining Andy Tait, a forests campaigner focused on Greenpeace’s work to reform pulp and paper giant Asia Pulp and Paper. No reason was given for the authorities’ action.

Andy Tait was picked up by immigration officials at Jakarta’s main airport when leaving the country to return to the UK yesterday evening. Tait had previously been stopped by immigration official whilst travelling from Jakarta’s Halim airport to Sumatra on Saturday. Officials at that time attempted to use a deportation letter for Tait that contained the wrong name, date of birth, passport number and had no photograph. The letter had no official stamp and the Directorate General of Immigration has since claimed that no deportation letter was issued.

The incident on Saturday attracted considerable media attention in Indonesia, with officials later fabricating the story that Tait had falsified his documents to come to Indonesia. The British Embassy has confirmed the validity of his passport.

During the visit to Sumatra, Greenpeace saw large-scale clearances of natural forest areas, including inside APP concessions. Some of these concessions are mapped as containing areas of deep peat, which it is illegal to clear according to Indonesian law. This continued destruction of natural forests undermines President Yudhoyono’s commitment to prioritise rainforest protection for the rest of his presidency.

Tait was interviewed at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport airport last night by immigration officials, who repeatedly asked him if he had a second passport. He was then deported from Indonesia. He had a valid business visa for his trip and had last week been allowed into the country without any problems at immigration.

On Thursday (13/10), Immigration officials blocked John Sauven as he arrived at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, despite being in possession of a valid business visa for his trip. Sauven was put on the next plane back to the UK.

Nur Hidayati, head of Greenpeace’s Indonesia office, who believes the actions taken against Sauven and Tait are part of an orchestrated smear campaign against Greenpeace in Indonesia said:

“Greenpeace is coming under attack in Indonesia because of our work to stop deforestation in the country. The strength of this attack has increased significantly as our work has focused on APP’s role in rainforest destruction.

“But blocking Greenpeace campaigners from Indonesia won’t stop our work to end deforestation in the country and wont help APP to hide from the truth about their role in rainforest destruction. The company is linked to corruption, illegal logging scandals and community conflicts but it appears to operate with impunity.”

“One part of the Sinar Mas group, Golden Agri Resources, has already started to tackle the problem of forest destruction. APP has got to do the same.”

Several large international companies are removing APP from their supply chain. These include Adidas, Kraft, Nestle, Unilever, Carrefour and Tesco. Recently Mattel, the toy giant behind Barbie, announced that they too were cutting ties with APP.

Indonesia has one of the fastest rates of forest destruction in the world. The Indonesian government estimates that more than one million hectares of rainforests are being lost every year.

Greenpeace’s work to end deforestation in Indonesia directly supports President Yudhoyono’s commitment to cut his country’s emissions by 41% with international support. Greenpeace is demanding a review of all current concessions, and strict enforcement of the ban on forest clearing in deep peatland areas.

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