Why today’s global warming has roots in Indonesia’s genocidal past. There has been tremendous concern over the ways climate change will affect human rights, but little attention to how human rights abuse affects our global climate.
Fifty years ago, Indonesia went through a genocide. The massacres may be relatively unknown, but in a terrible way the destruction continues, and threatens us all. In 1965, the Indonesian army organised paramilitary death squads and exterminated between 500,000 and 1 million people who had hastily been identified as enemies of General Suharto’s new military dictatorship. Today, the killers and their protégés are comfortable establishment figures whose impunity, political power and capacity for intimidation endure. Over this past year the lawlessness that began with the genocide arrived in all our lives. The fires are started by Indonesian and international companies to burn rainforest and replace it with oil palm plantations. Although Indonesia has strict laws aimed at keeping the fires in check, the laws exist on paper only. Greenpeace Southeast Asia. Forest and peat fires are emerging as a global threat and are driving a public health emergency in Southeast Asia.
Indonesia is the front line. And it's here where much of the smoke, known as the Haze Wave, originates. Indonesia's peat stores a massive amount of carbon – up to 60 billion tonnes, which makes it a virtual carbon bomb if even some of it was released into the air. And that's not to mention the untold amounts of air pollution to metropolises across the region, including Singapore. Over 75% of fire hotspots in Indonesia occur on peatland: partially decayed, dead vegetation which has accumulated over thousands of years and is typically saturated with water – it is virtually impossible to set alight in its natural state. It's affecting YOU. The Haze Wave has an insidious affect on the health of the millions living in Sumatra and the region. Community response. View over the Kerumutan Peat Swamp Forest important habitat for the critically-endangered Sumatran tiger. Who to blame? Suharto’s Purge, Indonesia’s Silence. The purpose of such intimidation is to create a climate of fear in which corruption and plunder go unchallenged.
Inevitably in such an atmosphere, human rights violations have continued since 1965, including the 1975-1999 occupation of East Timor, where enforced starvation contributed to the killing of nearly a third of the population, as well as torture and extrajudicial killing that go on in West Papua today. Military rule in Indonesia formally ended in 1998, but the army remains above the law. If a general orders an entire village massacred, he cannot be tried in civilian courts. The only way he could face justice is if the army itself convenes a military tribunal, or if Parliament establishes a special human rights court — something it has never done fairly and effectively. With the military not subject to law, a shadow state of paramilitaries and intelligence agencies has formed around it. This may still be possible. We need truth and accountability from the United States as well. Protecting Tiger Habitat in Sumatra: Challenges and Opportunities.
This article was originally posted on the Jakarta Post.
The tiger is not only a charismatic example of megafauna, but also an umbrella species. As a predator at the top of the food chain, tigers maintain the balance between herbivores and the vegetation upon which they feed. Thus, by protecting and conserving tigers, we also help preserve biodiversity and a whole suite of ecological processes within their habitat. Tigers are mostly solitary, which is why they need a large territory to survive. Unfortunately, habitat loss, along with poaching, has significantly brought down tiger populations. There are currently 13 tiger-range countries in the world, including Indonesia with six priority Tiger Conservation Landscapes (TCLs) in Sumatra, i.e. protected areas to conserve tigers: Ulumasen-Leuser, Kampar-Kerumutan, Bukit Tigapuluh, Kerinci Seblat, Bukit Balai Rejang Selatan and Bukit Barisan Selatan.
We cannot afford to lose more Sumatran tigers. Indonesia’s palm oil fires are emitting more greenhouse gases every day than the entire US. There are plenty of people on the losing side of Britain’s epic decision to vote itself out of the European Union.
The stock market tanked, the pound got crushed, and the political landscape is looks like the closing act of a Shakespearian tragedy. But from crisis comes opportunity, especially for those billing by the hour for legal advice. “In the short-term, there will be an increase in demand because there is such uncertainty,” said Guy Lougher, partner and head of the Brexit advisory team at Pinsent Masons, a British law firm. Pinsent Masons set up its Brexit team last September to help clients manage potential fallout: Brexit clauses were put into deals and many pushed back signing dates to June 24. Indonesia forest fires: how the year's worst environmental disaster unfolded - interactive.