Bring Companies Burning Forests and Land in Riau to Justice

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September 2019 – the air quality in Pekanbaru reached a DANGEROUS level. 

All of a sudden, I remember my cousin, Intan Syakila. She was born in May 2015, a very adorable little baby with her innocent sparkling eyes and charming smiles. Those seeing you would instantly adore you, my dear cousin. 

Who imagines that my extended family and I had spent only five beautiful months with her? I had to say goodbye to her, with tears in my eyes, after she had been coughing for a full month. What is left to me is the memory of those five beautiful months.

Yes, Intan was one among the thousands of victims of the haze from forest and land fires in Pekanbaru. If one still remembers well, Indonesia was suffering unprecedented fires in 2015. The air index in Pekanbaru then reached the same level as that of today – a DANGEROUS level.

Intan will always be a reminder and motivation for me to fight against forest fires. 

Since early 2019, more than 281 thousands of people in Riau have already been suffering respiratory diseases as a result of the haze. To date, haze is still haunting our daily lives. Honestly, I never want anybody to be wrapped up in the same misery as I was for losing Intan. 

Well, most of the fire hotspots are located in plantation and forestry concessions. As many as 1,438 fires hotspots are detected, potentially igniting fires in Riau, 40% of which lie inside concessions.

It is ironic that law has poorly been enforced against the perpetrators.  According to Jikalahari, the Riau Forest Rescue Network, there are 49 companies responsible for forests and land fires having been at large since 2014, many of which are illegal and corruption-prone.

I hereby demand the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, the Provincial Police of Riau and the National Police to immediately carry out an investigation and bring these perpetrators to justice. 

Without rigorous and tough law enforcement, companies will not be deterred and will continue causing this type of disaster for their own benefit. Do not let what happened to Intan recur in Riau.