For Immediate Release

187 CSOs from around the World Call on Japanese Government
to Take Quick Actions on Two Farmers Illegally Detained in Indonesia

Human Rights Abuse Intensified against Local People Protecting their Life and Environment
from JICA-Funded Dirty Coal Power Project in Indramayu, West Java

* There are additional signatories (one organization and one individual) as of October 15, 2018. Thus, the number of signatories is revised into 188 organizations as below.)

(Jakarta / Tokyo, October 12, 2018) An international petition signed by 188 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from around the world (including 26 countries) was submitted to Japanese government today, demanding it to take immediate actions for the unconditional release of two farmers' environmental defenders in Indonesia, who are protesting the Japan-backed dirty coal power project.

The local organization, Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI – Indonesian Forum on Environment), delivered the petition directly to the Embassy of Japan in Jakarta on October 12. Also, on one day earlier, they, together with the local farmers from indramayu, stormed the open lecture at Univasitas Indonesia (UI) on October 11, in order to raise their concerns directly to the president of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka, who presented there.

Photos left: Pak Sawin and Pak Sukuma, farmers from Indramayu, who are protesting the project to protect their life and environment. They are detained since September 24, 2018.
right: WALHI, together with the local farmers from indramayu, handed the international petition directly to the president of JICA, who attended the open lecture at Univasitas Indonesia (UI) on October 11.

CSOs highlighted, amid the 2018 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group in Bali, where major bilateral and international donors and financiers gather, that Japan is still the largest donor for Indonesia and must be accountable for human rights abuses in the projects for which Japan provides any form of support.

The local farmers are opposing the expansion of coal-fired power plants (1000 MW * 2 units) in Indramayu, West Java, due to their concerns about their livelihood and health to be damaged. Since the farmers’ victory in the district court in December 2017, who declared the cancellation of environmental permit for the coal plants in Indramayu, human rights violations against the farmers have been intensified. In particular, the local police are criminalizing such vocal farmers. One of the criminalized farmers who were detained for 6 months till this October was one of the plaintiffs in the said lawsuit.

Two farmers, Pak Sawin and Pak Sukma, have been also actively joining the protest against the coal plants in their village, while they are cultivating rice and various vegetables in the proposed project site. Since September 24, both farmers have been detained. This is the 2nd time for them to be illegally arrested for "Insulting National Flag," or that the Indonesian flag was raised upside down. Both have firmly refused such allegation, and it is obviously a false accusation or criminalization, with which the Indonesian government is trying to silence the local residents who are protesting the national project.

JICA conducted its feasibility studies for the first unit (1000 MW) in Indramayu, and is currently providing its engineering service loan for the basic design under the scheme of Official Development Aid (ODA). After the Indonesian government’s official request to the Japanese government, JICA is expected to provide the main loan for the construction of the power plant.

International CSOs have been also criticizing over the Japanese government’s policy to continuously support the export of coal-fired power plants, which undermines global efforts to dramatically decrease carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. To fulfill the Paris Agreement long-term temperature goal, no new coal plants can be built.

"This criminalization case against peasants seems to be directed to NGOs’ activists who are assisting the affected community, too. NGO’s activists are also threatened to be criminalized and trapped with any non-sense and unreasonable matter only due to assisting the affected community. The community and activists are only demanding the rights to better healthy life and environment and are exercising our rights to freedom of expression. If JICA accepts the request of the Indonesian government and provides its loan for the Indramayu coal power plant, it means that JICA is also involved in the human rights violation. We urge JICA to review its involvement and to stop its next disbursement of engineering service loan for the 1000-MW Indramayu power plant," said Dadan Ramdan, Director of WALHI West Java.

"We have handed the letter directly to Mr. Kitaoka, the president of JICA. This is not our first letter to JICA. Since the criminalization began to occur, we have told JICA about what is happening in the ground. Our hope is that they take actions toward criminalization cases by stopping to provide the loan for the project that violates human rights. In addition, the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15) of IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) said we must use coal 1%-7% to keep global temperature below 1.5 degrees before industrial ages in 2050. It means that we can't construct any more coal power plant to achieve such target. The current development trajectory would make the temperature rise to 3 degrees. It is a path to catastrophe. What JICA does, or financing the coal power plant, will make the catastrophe happen," said Dwi Sawung, Energy and Urban campaigner of WALHI national office.

“Without this Japan-backed project in Indramayu, the local farmers and their families would have been never suffering from such illegal arrest or detention. The Japanese government must not support any project with our tax money, where local residents are unable to freely protest it by peaceful means. That is a clear violation of basic human rights, such as freedom of expression, as well as the violation of the Development Cooperation Charter of the Japanese government itself. Thus, Japan must immediately and explicitly convey its concerns over the current human rights situation to the Indonesian government, and must decisively stop any form of support for the Indramayu project. Otherwise, it is the same as being complicit in human rights abuses,” said Hozue Hatae, Public Finance and Environment Team leader of Friends of the Earth Japan.

WALHI, Dwi Sawung
WALHI West Java, Dadan Ramdan
Friends of the Earth Japan, Hozue HATAE

(The full text of the petition is below and downloadable here (PDF) in English / Japanese translation.)

October 12, 2018

Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister
Mr. Taro Kono, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr. Shinichi Kitaoka, President, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

Japanese Government Must Stop Any Support for the Indramayu Coal-fired Power Plants, West Java, Indonesia

Dear Mr. Abe, Mr. Kono, and Mr. Kitaoka:

The undersigned groups from across the world are writing to express our great concerns about serious human rights violations against the local farmers who are protesting the expansion of the Indramayu coal-fired power plant (including transmission line, substation and switchyard *1) (hereinafter, the “Project”) in West Java, Indonesia. The international civil society has already warned the Japanese government on the ongoing criminalization in Indramayu by a letter last May 2018 *2 , and has called on JICA not to provide any more support for the Project. The human rights condition has never been improved since then, and the Indonesian government is continuously suppressing the local farmers, who have kept their efforts to protect their life and environment from the Japan-funded dirty and destructive Project in Indramayu.

Two farmers, namely Mr. Sawin and Mr. Sukma, from the village affected by the Project were unjustly arrested again by the Indramayu Regency police on September 24, 2018. They were arrested temporarily last December with the allegations of “National Flag Contempt,” or that the Indonesian flag was raised upside down. They were released within 24 hours at the time, but their status remained to be the suspects. The Regency police kept its investigation with the same crime, and sent each farmer a summons dated on September 21. Thus, both farmers went to appear at the Regency police with their lawyer on September 24th.

The two farmers have been the active members of the local residents' network, JATAYU (Jaringan Tanpa Asap Batu Bara Indramayu, or Indramayu Network of Free Coal Smoke), which has continuously protested the Project and has kept its administrative lawsuit, demanding the cancellation of the environment permission for the Project. On September 24, many members of JATAYU gathered in front of the Indramayu Regency police and called on it to stop the unjust arrests of two farmers. However, the Regency police decided to detain two farmers for 20 days until October 13 due to the fears for escape, destruction of evidence, and so on.

Currently, both farmers have been detained by the General Prosecutor since September 27. The prosecutor has shown its biased recognition that the local farmers are protesting the Project only because they want to occupy the land, despite the real intention of the local farmers: that is, they are concerned about their livelihood to be destroyed and the health to be deteriorated by the Project.

Local residents of Indramayu have demanded the cancellation of the Project, raising the Indonesian flag with a banner protesting the Project. Mr. Sawin and Mr. Sukma, who are unjustly detained, also installed the flag and banners in their villages on December 14, 2017 to show their strong intention to continue protesting the Project and protecting their life and environment. According to the testimonies by their neighbors and the photo evidence, it is obvious that the "National Flag Contempt," or "raising the national flag upside down," is a false accusation. And two farmers have firmly kept rejecting such “Contempt” by themselves. It is very high possibility for the Indonesian government to repress or harass the local residents who are protesting the Project, so that the government can make them silence.

As a background to the fact that this “National Flag Contempt” case is being brought up again at this time, there is another criminalization case, where four local residents, including one of the plaintiffs of the said administrative lawsuit, are imprisoned due to the violence case with a subcontractor of Indonesia's state-owned electricity company (PLN) over the construction of access road for the Project on November 29, 2017. These four residents have been detained from the beginning of April 2018, and a 6-month prison sentence was ordered at the middle of August 2018. They have been just released in the beginning of this October. The Indramayu Regency police seem to have brought up the case of "National Flag Contempt" again as it saw that another case had ended. This could also serve as its goal of constantly putting pressure on the local residents who oppose the Project. In fact, it cannot be denied that the local residents, especially those who are directly subject to such repression and their families are deprived of their daily lives and have some heavy burden both mentally and physically.

In addition, such repression seems to be intensified. The prosecutor as well as police have been asking both criminalized farmers who told the local farmers to protest the Project, in order to identify their supporters. It is highly concerned that the police and the prosecutor will persecute the individuals and groups who are supporting the local farmers, which clearly violates the Article 28E (3) of The 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia, or the right to the freedom to express opinions.

Despite the local people protesting against the Project by lawsuit or peaceful means, the situations that they are repressed by such public authority should not be allowed. In addition, the hardline acts of such public authority may instill a feeling of fear among the local residents, bring about atrophy effect to not a few local residents, and hinder them from participating in the protest activities and freely expressing their opinions. This is our grave concerns from the viewpoint of human rights protection. If there is no improvement in this serious human rights violations, it is highly concerned that the Project is just pushed through oppressively without ensuring “the meaningful participation of stakeholders” and “social acceptability,” which is required by the JICA Guidelines for Environmental and Social Consideration (hereinafter, “the Guidelines”).

Even in the Development Cooperation Charter of the Japanese government *3, as "Principles for securing the appropriateness of development cooperation", it states that “Japan will pay adequate attention to the situation in the recipient countries regarding the process of democratization, the rule of law and the protection of basic human rights.” The Japanese government must not support any project where local residents are unable to freely raise their voice to protest it, that is, in the situation where basic human rights, such as freedom of expression, and adequate participation of local residents are not secured. Your providing funds in such situation is the same as being complicit in human rights abuses, and there is also the possibility to give the recipient country’s government a false recognition that the Japanese government is satisfied with the current human rights situation.

The decisive action of the Japanese government is very crucial, given that Indonesia is the largest recipient of Japanese Official Development Assistance (ODA) cumulatively, and that Japan is the largest donor for Indonesia *4. One other thing that must not be ignored is the fact that JICA has provided the continuous support for the Indonesian national police, or “Support Program for Reform of the Indonesian National Police *5” since 2001 till today, including its technical cooperation, grant projects, and trainings. The Japanese government should be aware that the above-mentioned case shows that the national police have never changed yet since the new order era in their way to suppress the people who peacefully protest government projects, that is, they just use any criminal article to trap good citizens.

Therefore, we call on the Japanese government and JICA to take the following measures immediately;

1. To confirm with the Indonesian government and PLN on the facts concerning the said unjust arrest/long-term detention of two local farmers, and to urge them the unconditional release of the two farmers. Also, to request the improvement of human rights situation, including the recurrence prevention of this kind of criminalization against the local farmers as well as their supporters who raise the concerns over the Project;
2. To express to the Indonesian Government and PLN a strong concern about human rights abuses including the involvement of local military and police officials at the Japan-supported project sites, and to express in more clear way that the Japanese government cannot support for projects where severe human rights violations occurred;
3. To suspend the disbursement of its engineering service (E/S) loan for the Project due to the violence of the Guidelines in the Project (including transmission line, substation and switchyard). Also, even when requested by the Indonesian government, not to consider providing any Yen loan to the main construction of the Project (including transmission line, substation and switchyard).

We would like to reiterate that this kind of repression, which severely hinders meaningful participation of local residents and freedom of expression, must not to be an option. We humbly expect the Japanese government to wisely and promptly respond to this matter, sincerely listening to the local people’s protest and concerns.

This letter is signed by 188 organizations, including those working at international and regional levels plus organizations working nationally in 26 countries, and 7 individuals.

Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI – FoE Indonesia)
  Jl. Tegal Parang Utara No 14, 12790 Jakarta Selatan , Indonesia
  Phone: +62 21 79193363 Fax: +62 21 7941673

Friends of the Earth Japan
 1-21-9, Komone, Itabashi, Tokyo, 173-0037
  Tel: +81 3-6909-5983 Fax: 03-6909-5986

Footnotes: *1.
*4. (in Japanese)
*5. ;