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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

'Corporate Colonialism' Runs Wild as 'Growth' Bulldozes Forests

"Corporate colonialism" is bringing farmer deaths, poverty, human rights violations and ecological catastrophe to Indonesia with little recourse for the local communities who suffer the effects of projects touted as "growth," the Guardian's John Vidal reports. In the match between corporate power and the poor in the archipelago, the number of conflicts is on the rise. "More than 600 were recorded in 2011, with 22 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The true number is probably far greater, say watchdog groups." " The scale of the conflicts is growing. Every day new ones are reported. More and more police are now in the plantations. Government is trying to clamp down on mass protests," Vidal reports Abetnego Tarigan, director of Friends of the Earth Indonesia in Jakarta, as saying.

"Who controls the land in Indonesia controls the politics. Corruption is massive around natural resources. We are seeing a new corporate colonialism. In the Suharto era you were sent to prison for talking about the government. Now you can be sent there for talking about corporations," says Tarigan. Here, as in so much of the world, corporate power trumps all. "These developments are classed as 'growth' but what we are seeing is the collapse of communities of fisherfolk or farmers and increasing poverty," he continues.  "We are exchanging biodiversity for monocultures, local economies for global ones, small-scale producers are becoming labourers and community land is becoming corporate. This is the direction we are going."