Indonesia’s Foreign NGO Problems and Jokowi’s Lack of Response

Will Jokowi ban foreign NGOs?


On 25 September, 23 (later amended to 30) Greenpeace activists trespassed on a Wilmar International palm oil storage facility in Sulawesi. With military-like precision, they divided into teams and sub-units from their staging aboard an unseen support craft. One group rode in boats to an anchored storage vessel, painting a slogan across its bow in bright yellow paint; another team disembarked from boats, climbing a sea wall, and then rushing atop two massive storage silos.

A third team filmed both events. From the second team, a few members broke off, rappelling down one of the silos, unveiling a huge red banner, while members of the band Boomerang, in Guantanamo-Bay red Greenpeace jumpsuits, lip-synced a performance atop the adjacent silo. Finally, a second rope team mounted the second silo, and rappelled down, painting and defacing it in red and black paint.

But who were the “daring” eco-commandos leading the public relations raid on rusting palm oil silos? From preliminary data, mostly unnamed, and at least according to Greenpeace, no-name Indonesians. Why no-name? Because Greenpeace selected the “faces” for the operation with a cheesy photoshoot prior to the mission, and among the 8 “stars” there are 4 foreigners, 4 Indonesians and the lead singer of Boomerang and that from a group of 23. One of the four foreigners is from Thailand, the other three, Australia, France,  and the UK.

Yes, the spokeswoman was an Indonesian, a “clean skin” or someone without a criminal record. And as usual, Kiki Taufik, Greenpeace Indonesia’s propaganda minister had his usual comment but who directed the entire operation? Who selected the target? Who organized it? Who trained the teams? Drafted the press releases? And to whose benefit? Here, the connection to Indonesia vanishes and the veil of ‘Indonesian-ness’ drops, revealing foreign green operatives.

Activism isn’t a crime…except when it is

Greenpeace’s actions ultimately harm small Indonesian palm farmers most drastically; specifically, those unable to pay to maintain costly certifications which the foreign NGO presses palm oil producers to buy. As an example, The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) was founded by Greenpeace and WWF.

Even press releases from NGOs recognize the impracticability and self-defeating nature of their own certifications; they are too expensive for smallholder farmers to purchase, and those who purchase them, rarely renew them because they siphon off too much revenue in years when crops are poor; essentially, they are high cost and low return.

And what do the NGOs suggest as a solution? ‘Let the government subsidize it [us].’ So, the Indonesian government should subsidize and correct a problem which a foreign NGO, pushing foreign certifications through its intermediary has created? This would be the same as an arsonist starting a fire at a home, then putting on a fireman’s hat and uniform, and asking the homeowner to give him water, a bucket, and money to put out the fire he created.

This process is known as an ‘extortion racket’ and its part of the reason why Greenpeace is facing not one, but two RICO (Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act) cases in the US owing to its activities. RICO prosecution is most well-known from mafia movies or T.V. shows, like the Sopranos, whose protagonists fear it as much as a “headshot.” But Greenpeace’s criminality does not stop there.

Read also: Security services deem environmental, animal-rights groups ‘extremist’ threats

Not to be seen in any Greenpeace press releases would probably be the following: Greenpeace activists destroyed the Nazca lines in Peru; the organization was banned from receiving financing in India as it constitutes a “threat to national economic security” and had its charitable status revoked in New Zealand and Canada, in the latter being recognized as “serving no public purpose”.

In other words, western governments have determined that Greenpeace has no benefit to the public and at the very least, is interested solely in its self-preservation, going to any ends to do so. This includes currency speculation, but more grievously a callous lack for human life.

Manipulation, expendable idealists and neo-colonialism

Here, a digression is necessary to highlight just how ruthless and self-serving Greenpeace is. In 2013, a former U.S. Marine, Afghanistan and Iraq War veteran and Greenpeace direct action activist, Tyler Wilkerson, was charged for criminally trespassing at Procter and Gamble headquarters in Cincinnati during a Greenpeace mission nearly identical to that conducted on Sulawesi. Wilkerson and the team he was part of stormed the P&G HQ, rappelled from a façade and unfurled a large banner.

While waiting to stand trial, Wilkerson was fired by Greenpeace, and ultimately shot himself a few weeks before his court hearing, having felt that he “lost everything”. Greenpeace severed ties in order to preserve the organization. Here, unlike the mafia which looks after “its” people in prison, Greenpeace showed that they do not even have that modicum of honor or respectability.

Surely, the Indonesians involved in the Sulawesi action think that what they are doing benefits their countrymen and women, as did Tyler Wilkerson.  Unlike the professional foreign activists who jet-set around the world, organizing chaos and destruction for profit, using fake names or hiding behind monikers (here the French “Patrice” and UK “Dal Stevens” are noted), the Indonesians attached to Greenpeace remain in country. They are not the “elite” of the international activists, they will be cut loose if charged criminally, will face the local justice system alone, and will not be featured in any spotlight new stories. The glitz and glamour of Greenpeace will abandon them in their humid prison cells without so much as a yawn.

Read also:  Domestic Eco-Terrorism Has Deep Pockets. And Many Enablers.

Read also:  Foreign NGOs: Public trust declines in WWF & Greenpeace

In other words, most of the activists who took part on the Sulawesi raid are expendable, and in this lies a sort of inherent racism. Afterall, why should three (or more) European provocateurs (to use the correct term) incite public outcry in Indonesia, telling Indonesians how to exert pressure on an Indonesian business on Indonesian soil, circumventing Indonesian institutions, the most important of which is Indonesian democracy, or the Indonesian people themselves? In this way, and others, Greenpeace’s activities are simply a new form of colonialism; the “Patrice” (France), “Dals” (UK) and “Kats” (Australia) are nothing more than new viceroys dispatched from abroad to keep the “natives” down and undermine the institutions and success they have created.

Extortion perfected

Not only personally, but also in a transactional sense, Greenpeace refuses to honor commitments and promises, even abandoning their own as seen above. As Wilmar demonstrated, they are fulfilling their ends of the No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation (NDPE) on schedule agreed upon with watchdog groups. Greenpeace’s response? Move the goalposts and respond that the efforts are not enough, and/or find new grievances.

Ultimately, Greenpeace and other similar environmentalist NGOs rely on financing to continue operations, and advertise for it in several ways. They conduct brazen and illegal criminal acts like on Sulawesi, gaining media notoriety, or, they “sell” tighter and more stringent green certifications. Financially speaking though, best of all is a hybrid, fist and glove approach, where the two are alternated.

And here the true nature of Greenpeace is laid bare; Greenpeace and organizations like it are effective only at extracting money either from grants by highlighting their “actions”, or companies via certification intermediaries, being nothing more than an economic parasite; it survives off of its prey, without contributing or producing anything in return. It punishes the smallholders it claims to advocate for, and weakens the economy of the country it claims it is helping.

In neighboring Malaysia, the Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok Kok recently remarked that despite investing in sustainability and conforming to European standards, the anti-palm oil lobby in the EU is simply too strong; again. This is even more farcical; Greenpeace and other NGOs extract money and concessions in Southeast Asia, and then lobby against those same industries in the EU, giving them a reason to return for more ‘handouts.’

Jokowi’s Response, or lack thereof

Both businesses and NGOs require institutional and governmental stability, or at the very least, support to operate. Indeed, this is one of the main reasons why nation states exist; as providers and guarantors of stability and security.  In terrorizing Wilmar International, and getting away with it, Greenpeace has demonstrated that businesses are not safe in Indonesia, and will not be protected by the Jokowi Government.

In countries where governments have put their feet down against NGOs or Greenpeace in particular, such as India, Russia, and to a certain degree, the US and Canada, Greenpeace operates timidly, if at all. Afterall, for the same action in Ohio as conducted on Sulawesi, US Greenpeace activists faced 7 year jail sentences; for Sulawesi, Kat Woskett (not Wokset as written on the Greenpeace site) has been threatened with deportation from Indonesia.

This should not come as any surprise; multiple members of Jokowi’s inner-circle have strong ties to WWF, Greenpeace and other environmental organizations and it is believed that they steer environmental and economic policy. This explains the weak response by the government to the Wilmar raid.

But why does the Jokowi government allow foreigners or foreign interests to extort Indonesian businesses on Indonesian soil? Why does the Jokowi government ignore Indonesian lawmakers, and police and military officials who call for the group (and its kind) to be labelled threats to domestic security, as harbringers of proxy warfare? Were Greenpeace to carry Kalashnikovs and hold people instead of property or businesses hostage, would Detachment 88 not be dispatched? Why does Jokowi allow Indonesia to fall victim to foreign economic terrorism, effectively giving them the gun to hold the Indonesian economy hostage, as on 20 September when he enacted a moratorium on new plantations and review of existing ones? After all, Jokowi’s silence allow the lies which permit Greenpeace to operate in Indonesia to continue unchallenged.

Greenpeace and other foreign NGOs like it are threats to national economic security, not dissimilar to armed terrorist groups. Instead of targeting civilians, they attack the Indonesian economy, effectively damaging Indonesian society more deeply than bombs or bullets. It is time that Indonesians and specifically, the Jokowi Government, recognize the threat for what it is.

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