Greenpeace accused of shady fund raising
After releasing a report accusing pulp and paper companies of crimes against the environment, Greenpeace has faced mounting pressure from local and religious communities seeking its disbandment.
The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and the Indonesian Churches’ Commission (PGI) have said on separate occasions that the government should outlaw the international environmental organization’s office in Indonesia, alleging that the group’s operations have been funded by money from gambling in the Netherlands.
“The MUI cannot tolerate any important activities being funded by gambling and prostitution, which are against the Koran. The government should audit Greenpeace Indonesia to prove whether its operations have been financed by gambling activities in the Hague,” MUI’s Nahar Nahrawi said.
Nahar said he had received many reports from regional administrations and local civil societies saying that Greenpeace Indonesia received funds from gambling to cover its activities in the country.
The Hague could be accused of money laundering, since the money that was generated by gambling was donated to Greenpeace to cover its activities in Indonesia and in other countries, he added.
Nahar said he was shocked by information released on Greenpeace’s website, which said it has annually received donations from the Postcode Lottery in the Hague.
He said Greenpeace received £2.25 million (US$3.64 million) from the Postcode Lottery in 2010.
PGI secretary-general Gomar Gultom was shocked to learn that Greenpeace was financed by gambling and said that, entering the reform era, gambling — including lotteries — could not be tolerated and its funds could not be used to finance development programs. “Gambling and lotteries do not educate the people because such activities are against all religions. The government has the executive power to select all foreign agencies and organizations operating in Indonesia.”
The Indonesian Conference of Bishops (KWI) said it had never received any reports about Greenpeace receiving donations from gambling and that the government had full authority to grant permission for its operation in Indonesia.
Rev. Benny Susetyo, who chaired the KWI’s inter-faith dialog division, said it was better for the government to audit the environmental organization, which was permitted to operate in Indonesia.
“The government should take action if Greenpeace has been funded by gambling activities and money laundering,” he said.
Greenpeace Indonesia denied the accusations, which it said was intentionally launched by a certain group to distract from issues of environmental destruction.
Greenpeace Indonesia media campaigner Hikmat Suryatanuwijaya said that his organization, with its noble vision and mission, was financially independent and had no interests but promoting environmental preservation. According to him, Greenpeace has been under attack since early June, when it published a report of environmental crimes committed by Asia Pulp and Paper, linked to Sinar Mas Group.
“We have no intentions of accusing the pulp and paper corporation of being behind the attack on [Greenpeace], but we are sure that certain interests in the government and pulp and paper industry are behind the counter-attacks, as they have been uneasy since Greenpeace’s media release about the environmental crimes,” he said.
Previously, the Indonesian Muslim Students’ Association and the Betawi Rembuq Forum (FBR) staged a series of demonstrations, demanding that the government and the House of Representatives disband Greenpeace and stop its activities in the country because its operation did not to contribute to development programs.
Greenpeace’s Indonesia representative, Nur Hidayati, rebuffed claims the group received lottery money to fund its operations.
“The backbone of our financial resources are donations from Indonesian people, with a membership of over 30,000,” she told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday, adding that some donors gave over Rp 75,000 ($8.75) monthly, and membership continued to increase.
Greenpeace set up its office in Jakarta in 2006 with permit from the Law and Human Right Ministry and campaigned on issues of nuclear power, climate change, energy, forestry and phasing out hazardous waste in water.
In the mid-1990s, from its main office in Thailand, Greenpeace cooperated with local activists campaigning against hazardous waste in Indonesia, forcing the hazardous waste to be re-imported to Europe.
According to Nur, protests on the legality of Greenpeace came when the group focused campaigns on stopping deforestation in Indonesia.
“We see forest loss as being at a very dangerous level. Our mass campaigns [on forest loss] have thus made a number of big companies unhappy,” she said.