Jakarta – The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) says that the narrative of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s Vision Indonesia speech in which he sated he would pursue those obstructing investment in Indonesia has the potential to increase the number of people being criminalised for fighting to protect the environment.
“When Jokowi uses threatening diction like that, then the apparatus underneath him will pursue it, so we’re worried that it will increase the violence and criminalisation of people who are fighting for their livelihoods and the environment”, said the head of Walhi’s political desk Khalisa Khalid at her office in South Jakarta on Tuesday July 16.
In his Indonesia Vision speech in Sentul, West Java, on Sunday July 14, Widodo stated that he would pursue and soundly thrash those who obstruct investment in Indonesia.
“Slow or complicated permit processes, especially illegal levies. Be careful, going forward I guarantee that I will chase, I will control, I will check and I will soundly thrash [them] if necessary! There should no longer be any obstructions to investment because this is the key to creating more jobs”, said Widodo in the speech.
Khalid said that this narrative is worrying because ever since the New Order regime of former president Suharto people who have defended their sources of livelihood and the environment have been labeled as obstructing investment.
On the other hand, she continued, investment permits which have been issued recklessly since the New Order regime have resulted in hundreds of thousands even millions of people losing their sources of livelihood.
This kind of investment, said Khalid, has forced farming communities to become factory workers or plantation labourers and land evictions result in traditional communities losing their local identity.
“The culture of saving and holding the environment sacred is being sacrificed for the sake of pursuing macro economic growth”, she said.
Khalid is calling on president elect Widodo and his new vice president Ma’ruf Amin not to play around with environmental issues and consistently implement the political pledges made in his Nawa Cita (Widodo’s nine point priority program).
“This is not about me or you, it’s also not about us or them. But this is about the fate of the environment and the future of the nations next generation”, said Khalid in closing. (mts/arh)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Walhi Risau Diksi Jokowi Kriminalisasi Pejuang Lingkungan”.]