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(From The Jakarta Post)
Much is at stake in the debate underway in the House of Representatives over plans to permit mining in Indonesia's conservation areas. Twenty-two mining companies have applied for exemptions to Forestry Law 41/1999 which prohibits open-pit mining in protected forest areas. At threat is not only the environment but also the freedom of Indonesia's democratic processes from international intervention.
This weekend, legislators of the Commission III, among others in charge of forestry, and Commission VIII, among others in charge of mining, have recently made lightning visits to 15 of the mine sites at which the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources is recommending they revoke protected forest status. Indonesian environment commentators warn that these visits will not yield a balanced perspective, since the organization and logistics of the trip are being left in the hands of the petitioning mining companies, with no community involvement.
This debate is framed by several facts, highlighted by various reports issued by the Indonesian government, the …