Following the latest case of the violation of communities’ rights in Indonesia, ninety environmental and human rights groups have published an open letter to investors and buyers asking to suspend business with Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) and affiliated companies, until it is proven and verified that they have made meaningful changes across their business operations.

In the village of Lubuk Mandarsah (province of Jambi, Indonesia), an APP controlled plantation company, PT Wirakarya Sakti (WKS), sent drones flying over the community’s crops, spraying poison over villagers’ gardens in disputed land. 

This is the way PT Wirakarya Sakti resolved its conflict with the local community” – reads the letter – “by jeopardising the safety of their food and livelihood in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis.”

In the following days, an army officer who accompanied the WKS executive to the area intimidated the villagers by shooting in the air.

This is not the first violation perpetrated by WKS. In 2015, a farmer union leader, Indra Pelani, who was active in protecting community land, was brutally killed by WKS security.  

The Jambi abuse case – corroborated by  another recent case (criminalisation of indigenous people for planting on their ancestral land) involving a different plantation company also controlled by APP – highlights the magnitude of social conflicts involving APP’s timber suppliers.  A recent mapping and analysis done by EPN, together with a coalition of Indonesian NGOs, revealed that APP’s affiliates or suppliers are involved in conflicts with 107 communities in Indonesia, over around 350,000 hectares of disputed land.

In 2013, APP committed to respect local communities rights, implement Free Prior and Informed Consent procedures and resolve its social conflicts. In October 2019, APP claimed to be on track to resolve about 49% of the conflicts with their concessions and suppliers. Yet, cases of intimidation, violence and abuses continue to appear and be documented. Seven years after its commitment, the company is far from being on track to resolve its legacy conflicts. Worse yet, its forestry operations continue to create new violations and abuses. 

The signatories of the letter call on investors and companies to refrain from conducting business with APP and its affiliates until it is proven and verified that the pulp and paper supplier has made radical changes across their business operations. 

Read the full text of the letter here.