Greenpeace’s British Chief Still Set To Visit Despite Visa Rejection Talk
Fidelis E. Satriastanti
Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven still intends to visit Indonesia this week despite the government’s reported claim that it will deny him entry, the head of the environmental group’s local wing said on Tuesday.
Nur Hidayati, Greenpeace Southeast Asia’s country representative for Indonesia, said Sauven would not be swayed by the immigration office’s reported refusal to grant him a visa on the basis that his arrival would “disrupt Indonesia’s stability.”
“There has been no official notification about refusal of entry,” she said. “We just heard it from the media. Besides, he’s already received a visa, so there’s no reason why he shouldn’t come.”
She added the rumors that the government would block Sauven were likely just part of a smear campaign against Greenpeace.
“He is coming here to discuss issues related to business and sustainability, which is also in Indonesia’s interests,” Nur said.
Sauven is scheduled to arrive in Jakarta this week to discuss deforestation and meet with business representatives, including executives from palm oil giant Golden Agri Resources, and the British ambassador to Indonesia.
He was denied entry into the country last month, when he had been invited to attend the Forests Indonesia Conference, hosted by a group led by the Center for International Forestry and Research.
The rejection came amid criticism of the environmental group’s activities by legislators and religious leaders, who have questioned the source of its funding following reports its Dutch chapter received 7 million euros ($9.5 million) from a lottery. Lotteries are considered gambling in Indonesia and are illegal.
Organizations including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Betawi Brotherhood Forum (FBR) have claimed that Greenpeace is an illegal entity because it has not registered with the Jakarta municipal government.
Critics also have accused Greenpeace of unfairly targeting Indonesian firm Asia Pulp & Paper while ignoring the activities of foreign-owned companies that operate in the country. Both APP and Golden Agri are part of Sinar Mas Group.
Following the forestry conference snub, international law expert Hikmahanto Juwono, from the University of Indonesia, lauded the government’s move as “correct.”
“The motive and purpose of every foreigner trying to enter Indonesia must first be checked. The government decided to reject Sauven’s visit after obtaining objective and accurate information,” he said at the time.
“This concerns the country’s sovereignty. If someone often bashes Indonesia overseas and acts against our national interests, I think the government’s stand in this case is correct.”
In October last year, the government refused to allow the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior II to dock in Jakarta, citing a lack of clarity over its planned activities.
Additional reporting from Antara