Who are Battersea Power Station co-owners Sime Darby?

Producing palm oil is already a bad thing on its own (see our previous blog ), but Malaysia-based multinational conglomerate Sime Darby (a.k.a co-owner of the Battersea Power Station) also violates numerous contracts and even acts in an illegal way, according to Friends of the Earth.

Continue reading for a summary on Darby’s careless actions, all based on reports by Friends of the Earth, which are attached at the bottom of this article.

sime-darby-logo

The multinational conglomerate is developing palm oil plantations in Liberia, swallowing up farmlands and forests used by local communities to sustain their livelihoods. The contracts for land concessions signed by Sime Darby and the Liberian government violate several Liberian laws and regulations as exposed by a government agency report released a few months ago. They also violate several human rights principles in conventions ratified by the Liberian government as well as principles enshrined in Liberian Law.

Sime Darby’s plantations in the Ketapang district in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, are unlikely to achieve RSPO certification in the near future. The company has allegedly illegally deforested protected forest at Ketapang and is producing palm oil on this land. Sime Darby’s 100 – per – cent owned subsidiary PT BAL has cleared 2,600 ha of concessions that overlap with Protected Forest. This is what a Forestry Department team discovered in 2003.  Another wholly-owned subsidiary, called PT SNP, has a 1300 ha concession that overlaps protected forest. Parts of this have again been cleared and planted without permission. Indonesia was one of their victims as well. More than 2 million hectares of forest, including protected forest and conservation areas, have been illegally converted to palm oil plantations.

The Liberia Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (LEITI) has found that contract award process between Sime Darby and the Liberian government did not comply with local land laws, failed to conduct public consultations or produce due diligence reports as required by Liberian rules.

To sum up some of Sime Darby’s deeds, which highly affect the local communities in Liberia:

– No compensation has been paid to communities for land taken over by the company
– Forest areas used for various cultural practices had also been destroyed and planted with oil palm
-Sime Darby operations could lead to a loss of biodiversity, particularly the Upper Guinean Forest Ecosystem, which includes globally endangered and vulnerable bird species
-There could be land clearance of substantial areas of closed forest (more than 40 per cent tree cover) resulting in reductions in carbon storage and sequestration capacity
– There are risks of loss of livelihoods, food insecurity and the potential for chronic poverty
– Increased risk of conflict and rural to urban migration
– Increase in gender inequalities

According to Sime Darby’s own High Conservation Value Assessment report, one of the concession areas (Garwula District, Grand Cape Mount County) is comprised of
wetlands, agricultural lands, and mainly intact natural forested areas. This area houses a variety of animal species including Water Chevrotain and African Buffalo, both of which are protected under Liberian laws. Various species of forest and lowland birds, as well as reptiles including crocodiles are found in the area as well. Another concession area (Bopolu District,Gbarpolu County) also has significant forest cover.

To give you a list of violated Liberian regulations:

-By having no protection for communities’ rights in respect of customary land and natural resources;
-By not guaranteeing the principle of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC);
-By allowing involuntary resettlement of communities if they are deemed to impede the companies’ activities;
-By allowing the degradation of food security by not mandating that the company find alternative nutrition sources for community members who lose farmland to the plantations.

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As if Sime Darby has not caused enough harm already, local communities accuse them of violating their human rights as well, in a way of:

-Providing inadequate information about the concession areas;
-Not providing communities copies of the concession agreement;
-Giving little or no time to consider their response;
-Providing inadequate or no compensation;
-Not giving communities the opportunity to say ‘no’.

After these findings, the Friends of the Earth have given Sime Darby the following demands:

– The concession agreements or contracts must be renegotiated in order to enshrine the responsibility to conduct FPIC negotiations, to invalidate the resettlement clause, and acknowledge customary community land rights regarding the concession land;
– Only after the communities have given their free, prior and informed consent can the company operate on their land;
– Communities should not be displaced against their will by the activities of Sime Darby;
– All community members should benefit from the plantations and the benefits shall be laid out clearly to the communities before they enter into any agreement;
– Employment rights must be respected;
– Compensation rates must be agreed with the communities before entering into any contractual agreement;
– No further deforestation and other environmental degradation should take place by Sime Darby in any of the concession areas.

But the following terrifying quote from Sime Darby Plantation managing director Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamidi shows that they’re not taking these demands very seriously:

”Later on, when the opportunity arises, we may open estates in Brazil or in any South American country near the equator where oil palm grows well.”

Sime Darby’s expansion into Liberia is part of the company’s ambition to reach 1 million hectares of plantation land in the next five years. This would very nearly double its current palm oil plantations area and would inevitably involve large scale deforestation to create new land. But unfortunately, it is not alone. IOI and Cargill, are also expanding their operations into new land including forest. Let’s hope these ’’opportunities’’ won’t arise at all.

The most incredible part of the story is that European banks, pension funds and private equity funds have given out loans to Sime Darby with a total value of 280 million
euro and assisted with issuing new bonds with a total value of 250 million euro. The company is highly supported in their destruction, so it seems.

Furthermore, the largest European shareholders of Sime Darby are the Norwegian Government Pension Fund – Global, the British asset manager Schroder Investment Management, the Dutch pension fund Pensioenfonds Zorg en Welzijn (PfZW) and the German Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank is also the largest European bondholder together with AXA Group (France). HSBC and Standard Chartered (both from the United Kingdom) are the only European financial institutions that have assisted Sime Darby to issue new bonds.

To conclude with, EU biofuels targets are driving deforestation of tropical rainforests as Sime Darby’s operations in Indonesia and Liberia reveal. They will continue to expand elsewhere to meet the extra demand for palm oil, therefore causing indirect greenhouse gas emissions. The EU must account for the emissions caused by the new demand stemming from its targets.

See the full PDF’s on this, reports by Friends of the Earth.
Palm_oil_driving_deforestation_Aug_2010 Sime_Darby_and_land_grabs_in_Liberia_June_2013

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The Hostages of Guantanamo: A Letter From Shaker Aamer

 A letter from Shaker Aamer, the last UK resident in Guantanamo Bay, to is lawyer has been recently unclassified by the Pentagon. The letter, dated July 15 2011, describes the inhumane treatment the detainee of ten years has been experiencing and the continuing injustice that led him to begin a peaceful protest involving a hunger strike.

I the signatory below, in Camp 5E announce the start of a peaceful protest/hunger strike for the reasons enumerated below:

1. The opening and continuing operation of this unjust detention facility for the ninth year of my continuing and indefinite detention in the absence of any real accusation or crimes committed. Therefore I am hostage.

2. The inhumane treatment and deprivation of some of the items we are truly in need of, most important of which are the family calls since they are most critical to our families, especially to those experiencing special circumstances. Therefore, I want these calls to take place on a continuing basis and recur once every 15 days. These family calls ought to last no less than 2 hours with further consideration given to those experiencing special circumstances. I also speak for the regular mail to be made more efficient and provide us with e-mail.

3. The inhumane treatment is taking place at the hospital among other areas especially affecting the sick and those who are on strike and our deprivation of real treatment, health diet and appropriate clothing which are not provided to us nor are we allowed to provide them for ourselves.

4. Not upholding the promise that both your president and government gave on 01/21/2009 concerning the closing of Guantánamo detention facility. Very few people have left ever since although many here have been deemed to not represent any danger for the United States. Therefore, I ask you to establish justice and remove the injustice that has befallen us and our brothers in all detention centers.

By submitting these demands, I affirm our right to life. We want our freedom and the right to return to our homes since I am innocent of the charges (if there were any) you have levied against us. I ask that you establish justice that you claim to be a foundation of your country.

After these years of hardship we have spent here — and which I managed to do only through the grace of God, otherwise I would have lost my sanity — I want you to consider my case as soon as possible and give me the right to a just and public trial or set me free without conditions.

Shaker Aamer (00239)

 

See our Shaker Aamer pages for more information.

Sign the Government petition to return Shaker Aamer to the UK.

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Shaker Aamer – Ten Years On


Shaker Aamer is one of the 171 men still held in Guantanamo Bay and its last remaining British resident. Despite never having had a trial, having been approved for release twice and been the focus of a high-profile campaign for his immediate release, Shaker has remained in detention for more than ten years. His physical and mental health deterioration is also a prevalent concern.

Spectacle is making a short film about Shaker Aamer to mark the tenth anniversary of his incarceration. The film includes interviews with activists and former detainees and paints a picture of who Shaker Aamer is and the injustices he has endured for the last decade.

The project area of the Spectacle website also contains full information about Shaker Aamer, the progress of the campaign and links to more content such as Scott Horton’s 2010 article, ‘The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle’, published in Harper’s Magazine.

Order Spectacle’s DVD Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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A screening of “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo” at the European Parliament in Brussels- January 24


On Tuesday January 24, at 7 pm, there will be a special screening of the acclaimed documentary film “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” at the European Parliament in Brussels. The screening will take place in the main European Parliament building, the Altiero Spinelli Building, Rue Wiertz, in Room ASP – 3G2, on the 3rd floor, and Moazzam Begg, former Guantánamo prisoner, and the director of the NGO Cageprisoners, will be joining Andy Worthington and Polly Nash for the screening, and for the Q&A session afterwards.

 

The screening has been arranged by Jean Lambert (UK Green MEP), with the support of Sarah Ludford (UK Liberal Democrat MEP) and Ana Gomes (Portuguese Socialist MEP), and the purpose of the screening is to raise awareness of the continued existence of Guantánamo, and its mockery of universal notions of fairness and justice, ten years after the prison opened, on January 11, 2002. Given President Obama’s very public failure to close the prison as promised, it is essential that other countries step forward to take cleared prisoners who cannot be safely repatriated, and one of the main purposes of the screening is to encourage EU countries to re-engage with the process of resettling prisoners that was so successful in 2009 and 2010.

The screening is free, but anyone who wishes to attend needs to contact Rachel Sheppard, the Parliamentary Assistant to Jean Lambert MEP:  jean.lambert@europarl.europa.eu

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

If those wishing to attend do not already have an access badge for the European Parliament, they need to provide their full name, date of birth, nationality, passport number or ID card and number and also specify the type of document (passport, ID card) so that access badges can be arranged. Without an access badge, those wishing to attend the screening will not be allowed.

Moazzam Begg and Andy Worthington will be available to talk to the press along with Jean Lambert MP, Sarah Ludford MEP and Ana Gomes MEP they are hoping to have the opportunity to discuss the need for European countries to revisit the generosity shown in 2009 and 2010, when many offered new homes to cleared Guantánamo prisoners who could not be safely repatriated.

171 prisoners are still held in Guantánamo, and 89 of these have been cleared for release by President Obama’s interagency Guantánamo Review Task Force. 58 of these men are Yemenis, whose release is being prevented by President Obama, and by Congress, but others remain in need of new homes, and it is only the absence of offers from, for example, countries in Europe, that is preventing them from finally being freed.

As Guantánamo recently marked the 10th anniversary of its opening, with no sign of when, if ever it will close, given Congressional opposition, and the President’s refusal, or inability to assert his authority, it would be a powerful humanitarian gesture if European countries once more agreed to take cleared prisoners, to help to close this shameful icon of the Bush administration’s misguided “war on terror.”

 

Order Spectacle’s DVD Outside The Law: Stories from Guantánamo

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USA Congress to vote for “outside the law” detainees to remain in Guantanamo forever

USA Amnesty International  calls for action to stop Guantanamo detention centers being open permanently. This is a response to the US Congress having to decide soon whether the rights of those kept in custody in Guantanamo would be yet again weakened significantly. Now congress will vote for “outside the law” detainees to be forever denied freedom and kept in indefinite detention.

This Human Rights organization asks American citizens to either sign their online petition or directly call congress representatives, and to help in doing so Amnesty International provides detailed instructions.  Among them there are such steps to follow as:

* I am calling to urge the Senator to oppose provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (H.R. 1540) that would keep Guantanamo open.
* The Guantanamo detention facility must be closed. Indefinite detention and military commissions must end.
* Detainees must either be charged and fairly tried in US federal courts, or be released to countries where their human rights will be respected.
* I don’t want our government to sacrifice human rights in the name of security.

In its online petition Amnesty International says: “Indefinite detention, denial of due process and the unfair military commissions are violations of human rights and contravene international law. There is a better way to ensure justice and security for all of us.”

Amnesty International puts forward a solution for US Congress, which could release the detainees to countries which respect human rights or charge and try those individuals in US federal court.

The Guantanamo Bay detention camp is far and wide known for abusing human rights of “prisoners” from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Human rights organizations claim that those centers resemble concentration camps. This is because of the interrogation techniques used on prisoners, such as “stress positions”, “sleep deprivation” and other.

Spectacle is running a series of projects on Guantanamo detention centers, and you can find them in Guantanamo section on Spectacle’s blog. Also, you can order “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo” documentary also produced by Spectacle, by visiting Projects section on Spectacle’s website.

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