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Greenpeace ‘occupies’ Indonesia palm oil plant with rock band

Popular Indonesian rock band Boomerang, whose new music focuses on conservation, performed at the top of the refinery tanks/AFP

JAKARTA, Indonesia, Sept 25 – Greenpeace activists Tuesday scaled storage tanks at an Indonesian palm oil refinery along with a popular rock band which played pro-environment songs, protesting against a commodity found in everything from soap to biscuits.

The green group said 30 activists – including several foreigners – and Indonesian metal group Boomerang had been “occupying” the site on Sulawesi island to draw attention to widespread environmental destruction caused by clearing forest for palm-oil plantations.

They painted “Dirty” in large letters and dropped a banner that read “Drop Dirty Palm Oil Now” on storage tanks owned by Singapore-listed Wilmar International, the world’s biggest palm oil trader which supplies major brands including Colgate, Nestle and Unilever, Greenpeace said, adding the protest ended after 12 hours.

One group of activists also climbed the anchor chain of a tanker transporting palm oil and are preventing it from moving, according to the group.

Meanwhile, Boomerang – which got its start in the mid-nineties and whose new music focuses on conservation – performed at the top of the refinery tanks.

Greenpeace has accused Singapore-listed Wilmar of still being linked to deforestation in Indonesia – the world’s biggest palm oil exporter – despite committing five years ago to stop logging the archipelago’s vast tracts of jungle.

“This refinery is loaded with Wilmar’s dirty palm oil and if we weren’t here it would be on its way to factories and supermarkets all over the world,” Greenpeace said.

Wilmar described the protest as “not only a criminal act of trespassing and vandalism but a safety risk to the activists as well as Wilmar staff”.

“We urge Greenpeace to adopt a collaborative mindset and work with the palm oil industry to take genuine and positive action,” it said in a statement.

Last week Indonesia’s president signed a three-year moratorium on all new palm oil plantation development in the country.

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