Gisela Swaragita, Jakarta – Environment activists of Greenpeace Indonesia are determined not to leave the newly sworn Cabinet unchecked and are revisiting the #ReformasiDikorupsi (reform being corrupted) campaign, referring to the hashtag of the student protests against the government last month.
Jakarta's residents woke up on Wednesday morning to see two yellow banners attached to two important landmarks, the Dirgantara Monument in Tebet, South Jakarta and the Selamat Datang Monument in the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta.
Located at the busiest roads in Jakarta, the banners were seen clearly by perhaps millions of commuters that day.
Arie Rompas, the forest campaigners team leader for Greenpece Indonesia, confirmed to The Jakarta Post that the NGO wanted to remind President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who was beginning his second term in office, as well as his new Cabinet, to prioritize tackling dirty energy issues and forest conservation.
"We chose today to deliver our message as President Jokowi has just taken his oath three days ago and today is the announcement of the new Cabinet," he said in a text message on Wednesday.
"We want to say to the elected President and the Cabinet members who will help the President to prioritize [tackling] the dirty energy issue from the coal mining industry and to save our forests," he said.
In the press release made available to the Post, Greenpeace outlined grim deforestation data, noting that from 2014 to 2018 some 3 million hectares of land had been deforested to make way for various businesses. Also, fossil fuels, especially coal, still dominate the national energy supply, making up 58 percent of it.
"Deforestation and the massive use of fossil fuel are the biggest cause of greenhouse gas emissions in Indonesia, despite the fact that Indonesia has ratified the Paris Agreement to decrease carbon emissions by 29 percent [if unaided] or by 41 percent with International aid by 2030," the release said.
The release also pointed out Jokowi's failure to fulfill his promise in 2015 that he would stop forest and peatland fires within three years. In fact, 3.4 million hectares of land had been burned between 2015 and 2018, sending severe smog over Sumatra and Kalimantan, Greenpeace said, while palm oil and pulp and paper industry owners, who mostly control the burned areas, have not yet been properly sanctioned.
Arie said that a number of activists who are trained in climbing had attached the yellow banners to the tops of the two monuments at 3 a.m. The banners had been removed by the authorities, Antara news agency reported.
Some social media users have criticized the campaigning method, saying that it was a form of vandalism because the NGO did not have any permits to attach the banners at the landmarks.
"This is not vandalism. Our activists are trained professionals and we promote peaceful and nonviolent [activism]," Arie said, adding that the iconic statues were not damaged.
"If we ask for a permit, they would not let us, but this is not a crime. What is important for us is to deliver the message to the government for Indonesia's future, a future that is clean, without dirty coal energy and all of the environment criminals," he said.
In Wednesday's campaign Greenpeace also invited people to sign a petition calling on Jokowi's government to prioritize environmental issues. The petition is available on the Greenpeace Indonesia website: greenpeace.org/indonesia/aksi/kesempatan-kedua-pak-jokowi-lindungi-lingkungan-indonesia/.