Cargill Exposed: A Trail Of Human Rights Abuses

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Poto by Hendrikus Adam-Walhi Kalbar (44)

A man imprisoned for protesting palm oil expansion on his native customary land. Photo by Hendrikus Adam of Walhi Kalbar (Friends of the Earth West Kalimantan).

Much like the story with palm oil suppliers IOI and KLK, Cargill is again implicated in serious human rights abuses through it’s palm oil supplier Wilmar.

News of yet another case of heated social conflict on an oil palm plantation is breaking in Indonesia, and meanwhile Cargill continues to traffic this controversial palm oil into the US and sell it to most major brand companies throughout North America.

Today RAN released a press statement exposing these damning links and expressing our concern that the palm oil Cargill supplies and trades to the world is tied to intensifying community violence in Indonesia.

Cargill Supplier Linked to Violence and Home Demolition in Indonesia

San Francisco, CA – Newly uncovered customs data unearthed by Rainforest Action Network links agriculture trading giant Cargill to recent acts of violence, intimidation and home demolition against Indigenous villagers on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

The security forces of Cargill palm oil supplier Wilmar have been documented using armed violence and heavy machinery to destroy homes in the village of Sungai Beruang. This attack is an escalation of a long simmering tension over land rights between the native community and Wilmar affiliate “Asiatic Persada.” Another wholly owned Wilmar subsidiary, PGEO Edible Oils, has been a frequent supplier of palm oil to Cargill.

The most recent conflicts began August 8, after Wilmar’s security forces apprehended a villager because he attempted to sell palm oil fruits that the company claimed it owned. This resulted in an altercation between community members and police forces. On August 10, Wilmar security forces, together with the Indonesian special police brigade Brimob, entered the village and began demolishing homes with bulldozers. Brimob fired live ammunition and reports from the scene say that over 100 men, women and children were evicted from their homes. A coalition of organizations has submitted a letter of complaint to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) but no response has been received at this time.

Cargill's supply chain is leaving a trail of community destruction. Photo: Rainforest Rescue

Cargill's supply chain is leaving a trail of community destruction. Photo: Rainforest Rescue

Rainforest Action Network Forest Program Director Lindsey Allen issued the following statement in response to this latest controversy:

“This outrageous act of violence against community members is yet another in a series of examples that starkly illustrate why Cargill must adopt crucial safeguards on its supply chains. This is the only way Cargill will be able to guarantee these kinds of gross human rights violations do not continue to be imported into the American food supply.

“Rainforest Action Network has been warning Cargill for years that the company’s supply chain is vulnerable to serious human rights abuses, including slave labor and violence against Indigenous villagers. Rainforest Action Network deeply regrets that homes and livelihoods have been destroyed in this latest conflict and we hope this is a wake up call for Cargill to change the way it does business.

“Rainforest Action Network demands that Cargill implement meaningful safeguards to prevent anything of this sort from happening again. Cargill should also pressure the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to set in motion a process to resolve the situation amicably and address the underlying land dispute, in line with RSPO Principles 2 and 6.”

Rivani Noor, a human rights and environmental advocate with the Indonesian NGO Cappa, said “This is a crime against humanity. Wilmar has blood on its hands. The assertion that this company produces sustainable palm oil is a lie.”

Photos of the destroyed village can be found at: www.robinwood.de/palmoel

For more photos and information on longstanding conflict resolution efforts with Wilmar, contact Rivani Noor with the contact information listed above.

For background on the campaign to convince Cargill to institute supply chain safeguards, and the company’s history of ties to environmental and human rights scandals, please contact Laurel Sutherlin at RAN with the contact information listed above.

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Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: www.ran.org