A Joint Statement by CSOs “Is the Michelin Rubber Project in Jambi Greenwashing?”

Inequality in the control of managed lands, lack of data and documents transparency related to the management of natural resources, violations of procedures and weak law enforcement, and the absence of community involvement have been triggering community conflicts in Jambi. In Jambi Province, there are 18 Industrial Plantation Forest (HTI) permits with a total area of ​​686,662.42 Ha, of which 14 permits are active and 4 are inactive. These concession permits still retain problems related to land tenure conflicts, ecosystem and natural resources destruction, and unfair partnership scheme for the community. One of these problematic companies is PT. Lestari Asri Jaya (LAJ).

In 2015, Michelin, a global tire company group, has adopted the NDPE policy, then invested in and partnered with the Barito Pacific Group to develop a ‘sustainable’ natural rubber plantation and processing plant for PT. Royal Lestari Utama (RLU) with 51% ownership by Barito Pacific Group and 49% by Michelin. In June 2022, Michelin purchased the remaining shares owned by the Barito Pacific Group, making Michelin the sole owner of PT RLU.[1]

Conflict Case in Pemayungan Village

PT. LAJ has a concession permit covering an area of ​​61,495 Ha in Jambi. This inequality in land tenure compare to community ownership has resulted in the brutality of the company in evicting community members that have been carrying out agricultural activities in their gardens, long before the company’s presence. Community members experience intimidation, and forced to hand over their managed land. Many people received police summons, ostensibly for ‘interviews’, had their crops damaged by the company, and criminalized by the company. PT. LAJ’s actions committing acts of intimidation and criminalization by reporting to the police Pemayungan Village community members who defend their land rights to meet their needs and survival are violations of the guarantee of security and protection from the threat of fear to do, or not do, something the Pemayungan Village community is guaranteed by Article 28G paragraph (1) of the 1945 Constitution. This has an impact on the violation of the economic, social and cultural rights of the Pemayungan Village community.

Not only evictions are experienced by the community, but also due to massive, large-scale land clearing and company policy that create a Wildlife Conservation Area (WCA) around community gardens, causing conflicts between farmers and Sumatran elephant wildlife. The community is faced with a phenomenon where at daytime they have to deal with eviction from the company, and at night they have to work hard to prevent the entry of elephant groups into their gardens. This shows clearly lack of good government and corporate governance in the region, which do not respect the basic rights of the community.

Through the Independent Farmers Association of Pemayungan (PPPM), the community has held several negotiations with PT. LAJ. In each negotiation, the Pemayungan Village community, represented by PPPM, remained determined to independently manage their land without any interference from the company, having full ownership of their managed lands with a fair scheme.

The ambition and claim to be a sustainable natural rubber company of PT. LAJ, a subsidiary of PT. RLU owned by the Michelin Group, a global tire company, has run counter to its practices in the field, with the issues of deforestation, conflict and criminalization of the community. The sustainable ‘green’ bonds of US$95 million for climate control programs, wildlife housing and inclusive natural rubber production to PT. RLU from TLFF are not as green as they actually are.

Various problems caused by the Michelin Group through PT. RLU and its subsidiary PT. LAJ are described in the environmental edition of Tempo magazine with the main title “Michelin’s Green Credit”. We, Civil Society Organizations below declare the following:

  1. PT. LAJ as a subsidiary of PT. RLU (Michelin Group) to implement the No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation (NDPE) commitment and the Environment, Social Corporate Governance (ESG) framework. This includes urging companies to conduct due diligence on Human Rights and the Environment as required by “The corporate responsibility to respect human rights” given by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs);
  2. PT. LAJ as a subsidiary of PT. RLU (Michelin Group) to respect community aspiration regarding land management schemes and stops all forms of intimidation and repressive actions against community members related to land conflicts, as well as taking internal action against company officials that commit or are involved in intimidation and repression against community members;
  3. Urging the Regional Government and the Central Government, especially the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and ATR/BPN to evaluate, supervise and regulate the licensing of companies related to Natural Resources in Jambi and take action against companies that commit environmental and human rights crimes;
  4. Request National Commission of Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and the relevant Special Rapporteur of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (Environment, Climate Change, Human Rights Defenders, and Indigenous Peoples) to conduct independent investigations to encourage the resolution of agrarian conflicts and restore environmental damage and the rights of the victimized communities.

Jambi Jakarta, 24 Oktober 2022

Independent Farmers Association of Pemayungan (PPPM); WALHI Jambi; WALHI National Executive; Greenpeace Indonesia; Satya Bumi, Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI); KKI WARSI, Perkumpulan Hijau, Lembaga Tiga Beradik


Abdullah, Executive Director of WALHI Jambi, abdull.jambi@gmail.com

Uli Arta Siagian, Forest and Plantation Campaign Manager, ulisiagian@walhi.or.id

Angga Sinuhaji, Chair of the Independent Farmers Association of Pemayungan (PPPM)
Annisa Rahmawati, Executive Director of Satya Bumi, annisa.rahmawati@satyabumi.org

Arie Rompas, Forest Campaign Team Leader, arie.rompas@greenpeace.org Mufti Barri, Executive Director of Forest Watch Indonesia, muftiode@fwi.or.id

[1] https://natural-rubber.michelin.com/natural-rubber-by-michelin/history/royal-lestari-utama

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