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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > Australian film on Indonesian illegal logging causes outrage

Australian film on Indonesian illegal logging causes outrage

Date : 8th August 2002, Source : EIA


For further information contact:

EIA (UK):Faith Doherty - +44 207354 7975 or 07932738007
Telapak (Indonesia):Hapsoro - + 62 816998188

Australian film on Indonesian illegal logging causes outrage

London, 30th July 2002: A high-profile documentary has exposed the large scale illegal logging of Indonesia's forests to feed international wood markets, and highlighted how illegal timber baron Abdul Rasyid has used bribery, violence and intimidation to expand his empire but remains above the law.

The documentary, entitled 'The Timber Mafia', was made by the highly renowned Four Corners team and aired Monday night on ABC, Australia's main television channel. An on-line debate afterwards was swamped by outraged members of the public wanting to know what could be done to stop the trade in illegal timber and bring Abdul Rasyid to justice.

"I was delighted by the overwhelming response which the programme received" Faith Doherty, who featured in the programme and fielded questions during the on-line debate, said today. "People were clearly shocked. The pressure is now on for the Government of Indonesia to tackle the corruption and bring Abdul Rasyid to justice, and for the international community to step up their efforts to control the trade in illegally sourced timber"

The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak first exposed Abdul Rasyid in 1999 after extensive investigations including undercover work showed how his company was masterminding the rampant illegal logging of Tanjung Puting National Park in Borneo, one of the last strongholds of the critically endangered orang-utan, Asia's only Great Ape.

In January 2000 EIA/Telapak investigators Faith Doherty and A. Ruwindrijarto were beaten and held hostage for three days by staff of Tanjung Lingga, Abdul Rasyid's company. Late last year an Indonesian journalist responsible for blowing the whistle on three large cargo ships loading illegal timber owned by Tanjung Lingga near the National Park was attacked by a mob of thugs wielding machetes and narrowly escaped with his life. The ships have now been released and the timber sold, after a flawed investigation returned the case to Rasyid's stronghold in Central Kalimantan.

Despite ample evidence supplied to the authorities, neither Mr Rasyid or his company have yet been brought to justice for their illegal activities. Abdul Rasyid gained a seat in the MPR, Indonesia's highest legislative body with support from former dictator Suharto's Golkar Party, and appears to be above the law.

Currently no country has laws to prevent the import of timber which was illegally sourced.Global demand for cheap wood and an uncontrolled international trade is driving this destruction - and corruption is allowing those responsible to remain free.

Beta Video available, Report "Timber trafficking" available.

Editor's notes:

  • Indonesia contains ten per cent of the world's remaining tropical forests.

  • Over 70 per cent of Indonesia's original frontier forests have been lost.

  • Research indicates that over 70 per cent of timber processed in Indonesia comes from illegal sources.

  • Indonesia's threatened National Parks provide a haven for a host of critically endangered species, including the orangutan, Sumatran tiger, Sumatran rhinoceros, clouded leopard and sun bear.

  • EIA/Telapak have been campaigning to stop the illegal logging of Tanjung Puting National Park, Central Kalimantan, since August 1999.

  • EIA is an independent environmental non-profit group based in London and Washington DC. More information at

  • Telapak is an independent environmental non-profit group based in Bogor,Indonesia. More information at

  • ABC's special web feature to accompany the programme can be found at

Best wishes

Ashley Misplon
Communications Administrator

Document last updated on Wednesday 01 August 2018

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