Activists Urge Indonesian President to Reopen Investigations into 15 Firms Burning Forest on Purpose

Jakarta, 03 Muharram 1438/04 October 2016 (MINA) – A coalition of activists from Indonesian green and hum an rights groups on Monday urged the Indonesian president to reopen legal investigation into 15 firms allegedly committed in last year’s forest fires in Riau province.

“The president must order the police chief to undertake a special re-investigation into the alleged firms as the decision to stop the investigation was against his strong commitment to enforcing the law and punishing perpetrators of forest fires,” Xinhua quoted an activist coordinator at Riau’s Forest Rescuers Network organization, Woro Supartinah, as saying here.

Riau provincial police stopped their investigations into 15 plantation firms allegedly committed in the forest fires that razed vast areas in the province due to lack of evidences.

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According to police, those firms were not proved of burning the forest on purpose nor committed mistakes that led to the forest fire. Police added that the burned areas could be belonged to locals, not the firms.

Emerson Yuntho from Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) alleged that the stoppage of police’s investigations against those firms was due to “external interventions.”

Isna Fatimah, a researcher from Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), said that Riau provincial police’s move to stop the investigations was “premature” as the dossiers have mentioned specific indictments against those firms.

“It indicates that there has been a chronic mistake during the initial investigations,” Isna said.

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Previously, head of Indonesian president’s communications team Teten Masduki said that the president has asked police chief, environment and forestry minister to keep up with the investigations. Teten added that the authorities would possibly reopen the case should other evidence related to the case be found.

Indonesia saw devastating forest fire that occurred in six provinces in Sumatra and Kalimantan, affecting the health of hundreds of people in those two islands, while incurring huge losses to the nation due to economic activities disrupted by the forest fires. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)