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Palm oil companies exploit Indonesia's people - and its corrupt political machine

June 11, 2015

Palm oil companies exploit Indonesia's people - and its corrupt political machine

Tomasz Johnson
Thursday 11 June 2015 07.00 BST

Throughout Indonesia, a vast archipelago draped across the equator, a human rights crisis simmers.

Over the past two decades, indigenous communities have seen the government hand their land over to private companies. These companies are largely producing one of two commodities: fast-growing timber species to supply the pulp and paper industry or palm oil, a remarkably versatile edible oil.

Despite President Joko Widodo’s promise to crack down on deforestation from palm oil expansion last year, the launch of the mandatory Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil certification scheme and a raft of voluntary commitments by palm oil companies, destruction and exploitation remain the norm.

The government estimates that thousands of communities are involved in active or latent conflicts with companies, the state and each other as a result. Individuals from Sumatra in the west to Papua in the east have become labourers on their own land. This is also an environmental disaster, as plantations for these crops surge into forests and carbon-rich peatlands.

Read more at The Guardian.

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