Saturday, August 08, 2009

Paper Industry Uses Violence and Destroys Tropical Forests in Indonesia

Despite years of protests: Wholesaler Papier Union continues to sell paper gained from illegal logging in Indonesia

Indonesia’s paper industry does not mind using violence against people and destroying tropical forests. Three Indonesian villagers recently had to pay with their lives when resisting against the acacia plantation of an APRIL subsidiary, reports Dede Kunaifi from the Indonesian environmental organisation Kabut. Dede Kunaifi is currently travelling through Germany following an invitation by ROBIN WOOD. He has alerted us to the fact that APRIL is planning to destroy another 45,000 hectares of tropical forest on the Kampar peninsula in Sumatra to establish new plantations. This would have devastating consequences both locally for small farmers and the environment, and globally due to the climatic effects. Dede Kunaifi appeals to customers in Europe to stop buying paper from Indonesia. Copy paper made by APRIL is sold in Germany under the trademark “Paper One” by the wholesaler Papier Union.

Three fatalities, 16 wounded and seven imprisoned – this is the sad state of Tangun, a village in Sumatra. Its inhabitants have been fighting for 1000 hectares of agricultural land which was blatantly taken over by an APRIL subsidiary (Asian Pacific Resources International Limited). In response to the villagers’ resistance, the company had some villagers taken hostage by its security guards on 28 May 2009. Since the villagers were not prepared to accept such acts of intimidation, a conflict erupted the very same day, in which three people died and several were wounded. The APRIL Group claims these people died in an accident. The national Indonesian human rights commission does not believe in APRIL’s claim. According to Dede Kunaifi and other Indonesian environmentalists there is plenty of evidence that the villagers were killed. “Customers in Germany should be made aware of the violence the paper industry uses against people and the environment in our country,” says Dede Kunaifi and asks everyone to “please stop buying paper from Indonesia!”

APRIL is planning to also destroy large areas of rainforests in other parts of Sumatra. The Kampar peninsular is one of Sumatra’s few remaining areas covered in rainforest. To make matters worse, it is 45,000 hectares of peat forest APRIL wants to clear for paper plantations. The climatic consequences would be disastrous as the peat layers, which are several metres thick, store huge amounts of carbon dioxide. If the forest is logged, this harmful gas will escape into the atmosphere. This effect makes Indonesia the world’s third-largest producer of carbon dioxide today.

Based on the above methods of illegal logging, ROBIN WOOD has been appealing to Papier Union since 2002 to stop selling paper made by APRIL. Papier Union, who claims to be Germany’s largest paper wholesaler, has refused to do so until today, saying that the pulp for “Paper One” is exclusively sourced from plantations and not from destroying rainforests. “Given the violent practices used for paper plantations in Indonesia, such an argumentation seems somewhat cynical. We are asking Papier Union and all other traders or paper to stop selling paper from Indonesia,” says ROBIN WOOD’s Expert for Tropical Forests, Peter Gerhardt.


Dede Kunaifi will be pleased to make himself available for interviews in English.

Peter Gerhardt, Expert for Tropical Forests, phone +49 1577 782 88 25, tropenwald(at)

Ute Bertrand, Press Spokesperson, phone +49 40 380 892 22, presse(at)