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WALHI – Friends of the Earth Indonesia submitted to the Intergovernmental Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council that is negotiating a binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights violations, the case of land and forest fires caused in the country by the production of palm oil. 23 people died in 2015 suffering from serious respiratory infections and 40 million people have been affected in total by the fires.
The second session of the Intergovernmental Working Group was held from October 24-29 in Geneva, Switzerland. Friends of the Earth International was present there with an important delegation and activist Khalisah Khalid, Head of the Campaign and Network Department of WALHI – Friends of the Earth Indonesia was in charge of submitting the case of land and forest fires in her country caused by big agribusiness transnational corporations (land grabbing).
Here we can highlight the role of Indonesian palm oil supplier Bumitama Agri Ltd., an important supplier to palm oil giant Wilmar International. Research conducted by Friends of the Earth groups from several countries into five palm oil plantations in Central Kalimantan that belong to Wilmar International and Bumitama showed that, despite companies having adopted voluntary policies prohibiting burning, deforestation, and exploitation of peat lands, they appear to have violated national laws and their own voluntary guidelines. This includes violating the human right to health and to a healthy environment, allowing the destruction of high carbon stock areas, and taking insufficient measures to prevent forest fires in their plantations.
Friends of the Earth Europe, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Friends of the Earth United States and WALHI have been investigating the actions of Wilmar and Bumitama in Indonesia and have conducted financial studies about the companies.
Bumitama received financial support from well-known European banks including HSBC (British), Deutsche Bank and Rabobank (Dutch), according to Friends of the Earth International data from 2014. American and European financiers hold €371 million worth of shares in Wilmar, and have €1.1 billion in loans outstanding to Wilmar.
Real World Radio interviewed Khalisah Khalid, of WALHI – Friends of the Earth Indonesia, in Geneva.
Imagen: Víctor Barro, Friends of the Earth International
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