Konradus Epa, Jakarta – Greenpeace Indonesia has accused a government agency of undermining democratic principles by reporting it to police for criticizing a speech made by President Joko Widodo.
The government's Legal Mafia Eradication Committee reportedly filed a complaint with police against the environmental organization on Nov. 12 for breaching computer crime laws after it criticized Widodo's speech made at the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) on Climate in Glasgow, Scotland.
The committee has taken Greenpeace to task by accusing it of uploading fake news after it disputed Widodo's claim that deforestation in Indonesia has decreased each year since he has been in office.
Husin Shahab, general secretary of the committee who reported Greenpeace Indonesia to the police, said the environmental group lied to the public because "its reports on deforestation weren't in line with the real facts that the present government has each year been trying to suppress deforestation."
Asep Komarudin, Greenpeace Indonesia's forest campaigner, hit back on Nov. 14 by saying the committee was undermining the spirit of democracy.
"Reports like this damage the democratic climate – criticism of the government should not be responded to by police reports," CNN Indonesia quoted Komarudin as saying on Nov. 14.
It isn't a hoax. We used valid data and facts. We expressed our views based on our own interpretation. When looking at the same data, we can see it from different angles
Greenpeace Indonesia director Leonard Simanjuntak stood by his organization's comments regarding the speech, denying the data provided was fake and saying it came from the environment ministry itself.
"It isn't a hoax. We used valid data and facts," Simanjuntak said. "We expressed our views based on our own interpretation. When looking at the same data, we can see it from different angles."
From 2003 to 2011, he said, deforestation affected about 2.4 million hectares. But from 2011 to 2019, it increased to about 4.8 million hectares.
Berry Nahdian Furqon, former chairman of the Indonesian Forum for Living Environment, said the government should respect different views.
"The government should present its own argument in response and not go running to the police," Furqon told UCA News.
According to him, there was nothing wrong with Greenpeace's critique. The government saw it in a political aspect but the activists applied an environmental one, he said.