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Twenty-three people died in 2015 alone for breathing infections caused by the smoke of peatland and forest fires in five provinces of Indonesia that were started to clean lands for oil palm and tree plantations to produce cellulose pulp and paper. Approximately 60 million people have been affected in total.
Meanwhile, over 430 companies, funded by international banks, have been involved in these intentional fires that take place year after year. Of them, 308 focus on palm oil production.
This is exposed in a short video circulated by WALHI-Friends of the Earth Indonesia and Friends of the Earth International. The financial cost of this situation for the country amounts to 17 billion dollars, they warn.
One of the most paradigmatic cases related to the perverse role of large agribusiness companies in the intentional fires in Indonesia is the one involving Bumitama Agri Ltd, an Indonesian company focused on palm oil production, also supplier of transnational giant Wilmar International, based in Singapore and considered the leading agribusiness company in Asia.
Bumitama has had the financial support of renowned European banks such as HSBC (UK), Deutsche Bank and Rabobank (the Netherlands), according to information provided by Friends of the Earth International in 2014.
“We call all of you to keep the peatland ecosystem and the people who live there protected. If we keep the peatland ecosystem, it maintains the climate, it maintains the livelihoods and it maintains humanity”, states Nur Hidayati, Executive Director of WALHI in the video.
A group of Indonesian citizens brought the government to justice for their actions in the fires caused by the companies and their effects on their lives and health. The judges ruled that the government must review the permits granted over lands and stop the fires.
WALHI and Friends of the Earth International have also filed the case before the United Nations and are exerting pressure in favor of a legally binding treaty that forces transnational corporations to respect human rights.
Watch below the video produced by WALHI and Friends of the Earth International:
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