Last week Rudy Gani, the leader of the Aliansi Mahasiswa Tolak LSM Asing (the Alliance of Students to Reject Foreign NGOs), a student group, filed a complaint against Greenpeace with local police alleging that the green group had misappropriated up to 20 billion Indonesian rupiah ($2.2 million) from supporters. Rudy Gani presented no actual evidence of embezzlement. His charge was predicated on a comparison of Greenpeace's reported income with Gani's extrapolation of Greenpeace's income based on the assumption that all 30,000 Greenpeace members in Indonesia pay the standard monthly dues of 75,000 rupiah ($8). Both Indonesia Corruption Watch and Greenpeace quickly shot down the claims.
"The backbone of the Greenpeace campaign is donations from individuals around the world, therefore the transparency and accountability are critical for Greenpeace - a spokesman for Greenpeace Southeast Asia told mongabay.com - We see some tendentious efforts of Rudy Gani to continually bring misleading news and totally incorrect about Greenpeace in Indonesia since last year, which is based on bad assumptions and presumptions, without even once making an effort to clarify whether the allegation is true or not."
Indonesia Corruption Watch Coordinator Danang Widoyoko told Mongabay-Indonesia that Aliansi Mahasiswa's accusations seem to part of a smear campaign against Greenpeace Indonesia, whose recent market campaigns have hurt powerful interests in the palm oil and pulp and paper sectors.
"The question is, ‘Who is funding the students?" asked Widoyoko, adding that the student group's accountability is almost non-existent. "Do they let public auditor check their funding? We probably will never know the source of their funding.”
Suspicion immediately fell on Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), the main target of Greenpeace's current campaign. But APP denied any links to the group.
"APP has no relationship whatsoever to this group," an APP spokesperson told mongabay.com.
Nevertheless Aliansi Mahasiswa's police report was immediately championed by groups that advocate on behalf of APP internationally. Both the Consumer Alliance for Global Prosperity and World Growth International, which campaign against Greenpeace and criticize companies that have dropped APP products, highlighted the fraud charges in statements published yesterday.
It wasn't the first time Greenpeace has been pressured in Indonesia. Last year, during the height of its APP campaign, the group was hit with allegations of use lottery money to fund its operations (illegal in Indonesia) and was served with an eviction notice for its office in Jakarta. In October, John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, was prohibited from entering Indonesia ahead of a critical meeting, while forest campaigner Andrew Tait was harassed and barred from re-entry. The campaign was accompanied by op-eds published in Indonesian newspapers and international media as well as messaging on blogs.
Greenpeace is targeting APP for its forestry practices on the island of Sumatra. The paper giant continues to rely on conversion of natural forests and peatlands for fiber and plantations. These forests are critical habitat for endangered species including orangutans, elephants, and tigers, and store large amounts of carbon in their soils and vegetation.
The campaign has cost APP dearly. It has lost dozens of customers, including Xerox, National Geographic, Mattel, Gucci, Staples, Carrefour, Tesco, Kraft, Unisource, H&M, and Fuji, and Danone, among others. APP also lost its certification under the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), a eco-standard.