13 green activists, including Filipina, freed by Indonesian cops

DAVAO CITY, Philippines The 13 environmental activists, including Filipina Jean Marie Ferraris of this city, were released from detention Wednesday, two days after they were arrested by Indonesian police while conducting a press conference in the state of West Java.

Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, Ferraris, communicating with her colleagues in the Philippines through her Facebook account, said they were already at the airport in Jakarta "enjoying limited freedom."

"We are not even allowed to go shopping. They donโ€™t want us to contribute even just a little to the Indonesian economyโ€ฆThe immigration police is holding our passports. Good that FB (facebook) is not banned," she said.

"By the way, we were told by Indonesian friends that the higher authorities said that we didn't do anything wrong. Wala gyud bitaw (Of course we did nothing wrong)," she said.

Hours before that Facebook post, Ferraris also said that the arrested environmentalists were held at the Cirebon Immigration Officeโ€™s conference room "waiting to be released."

She said their lawyer, whom she identified as Suzy of HUMA, the association for Community And Ecology-based Legal Reform, told them that the immigration authorities had decided to not deport them.

Fellow environmental activists, human rights lawyers and her friends expressed their concern for Ferraris and deplored the Indonesian government for arresting her and the other members of international non-government organizations who participated in a gathering on the effects of coal plants to people and the environment.

The arresting policemen were reportedly accompanied by representatives of a coal plant operated by Cirebon Elektrik Power Ltd.

Ferraris is the team leader of the Davao Regional Office of the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan or LRC and convener of the local environmental group Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao.

"We condemn the illegal arrest and detention of Jean Marie Ferraris and the other environmental activists in Cirebon. We call on the Philippine government and the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) to swiftly act on this and make the Indonesian government accountable for their repressive and shameful act," said human rights advocate Jang Dizon-Tiangco.

After learning of the release, Tiangco also said that the Indonesian government must have realized how costly it would be for them to illegally detain the group much longer.

"For sure, we will not take this sitting down. We have contacted our network organizations in Indonesia to condemn and make the Indonesian government account for this repressive and shameful act," she said.

The Ateneo de Davao law students group Addlaw also expressed its indignation over what happened to the environmental activists in Indonesia.

"We denounce in the strongest possible terms the unwarranted arrest of Jean Marie by the Indonesian Police and we call on our government to act swiftly for her release," the group said.

Judy Pasimio, executive director of LRC, earlier said that the arrest of Ferraris and the other activists showed that Indonesia has not "completely shrugged off its authoritarian past."

"This latest episode evokes the time of Suharto when the coercive power of the state, through the police and the military were used to sow terror and choke democratic space. This abusive behavior has no place in a supposedly democratic country," Pasimio added.

"The new administration of President Aquino must send a strong message to the international community that it is committed to protecting our citizens from abuses committed on foreign soil, even if it is by a foreign government," Pasimio said.


Email from: Ms. Wahyuningrum (Yuyun)

By: Jeffrey M. Tupas
When: 7/2/2014

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