Posing in a vintage Rolling Stones t-shirt with brown oversized sunglasses and her hair pulled back into a neat ponytail, Greenpeace Indonesia activist Ninda Felina demonstrated fashionable forestry at its finest during her latest Greenpeace excursion to Riau’s peat lands in February 2015. The Indonesian model and DJ laughed, smiled, and spoke for the camera.
She appeared tough as well as chic. But is she as eco-conscious as she is eye-catching? Or is she merely paying lipstick on the pig feeding her eco cred?
“Yeah, I don’t really [care about] Greenpeace,” Felina says. This comment seems to speak for itself.
Demonstrating a cool aloofness and mysterious intrigue that attracts future Greenpeace members, Felina’s statements also illustrate a well-funded ignorance. She seems at times only to be a part-time activist – ecologically aware, but without much care.
The model and Greenpeacer is one of four hosts of a short documentary entitled “Face Generation 13,” which was produced by Greenpeace Indonesia in 2014. Felina visited the indigenous people of the Humbahas District, North Sumatra, laying false claims against PT Toba Pulp Lestari, a paper company. Past claims include death, violence, and destruction in an area home to over a decade of generations – both families and trees. Unfortunately, the facts show a rather different picture. Evidence shows claims made by UK sponsored NGO filmmakers faked the movie. A technical expert from the technical University in Bogor examining the YouTube clip said, “poorly constructed and simply speaking, a fake.” Thirteen generations would represent 325 years of claims made, which would bring the community to the year 1689.
There are only a few minor historical problems with this Greenpeace claim. First, only a few contacts between Portuguese and Indonesia existed between 1512 and 1689. Therefore, records from the pre-Dutch colonial period are unlikely to exist to support the claims. The first Dutch trading post was only established in 1603 in Java and did not reach Sumatra until a few decades later. Claims based on 325 years ago are rather unrealistic and are legally unenforceable. After all any claims made by the community should be addressed to the government.
Once known as PT Inti Indorayon Utama, the business was founded as a paper milling company in Sumantra, Indonesia in 1989 by Sukanto Tanoto, one of Indonesia’s richest men. The conflict was set in motion by foreign activists who used the confusing days in 1998 as a reason to claim environmental agendas to force political change. A number of employees of the company were lynched by the agitated mob during riots. The responsible actors and organizers were never apprehended however the German NGO Brot fuer die Welt sponsoring a local NGO since 1998 funded political activism and demonstrations according to its 2013 annual report.
Eventually reopening, two laws regarding decentralization were enacted. Since 2001, these laws have gradually changed, and now local governments have more power regarding public interest. Various activities of labor unions, the media, NGOs, such as Greenpeace, and other civil society organizations are enjoying more freedom than ever before.
Cute and Green
The role of Greenpeace is therefore greater than ever at the present time. And Greenpeace has long understood the value of the three “Cs” – celebrity, conservation, and controversy. Standing alone in exotic, dangerous locales illustrates a lonely loveliness that glamorizes the ecological mission.
“The government should really fix it all,” Felina says.
Whether or not the Greenpeace celebrity is deeply involved or moved does not necessarily matter. Documentaries involving local celebrities or actors or actresses usually offer dramatic, egocentric entertainment.
“I love adventure,” Felina says. “I love traveling.”
Speaking of traveling, many famous faces have ended up tangled in a hypocritical web of lies by using eco-friendly vehicles on the way to board private planes.
Felina, however, tends to not think about outsiders. “I’m not too concerned,” she says. “After I joined some Greenpeace trips, [I] got interested [and joined] since her cousin was part of Greenpeace.
But while appearing cool as a cucumber, Felina knows precisely her influence. “When I joined, [I] automatically attracted people,” she says.
Anyone not in line with her confident views, take note: “There must be punishment for offenders who make the fire worse,” she declares. But as so often the lack of actual understanding is replaced with the dogmatic regurgitation of bubble-head talking rather than the uncomfortable truth.
By: Anne-Marie Gris