Indonesian NGOs reject US, UK and Australian funding in Iraq protest

Down to Earth No 57  May 2003

Indonesia's most prominent environmental group, WALHI, and a number of other NGOs have rejected funding from the USAID, DFID and AusAID, because of their governments' war against Iraq.

WALHI announced it would sever ties with the American, British and Australian government aid agencies in a public statement issued March 24th, which condemned the coalition's invasion of Iraq as a crime against humanity. The group said the coalition had violated the values and principles of human rights clearly stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the war was aimed at political and economic control over Iraq's oil.

The statement, issued by the Jakarta-based National Executive of WALHI:

  • called on the international community to demand urgent action to stop the war and for the withdrawal of all coalition troops from Iraq;
  • called on the UN to impose sanctions against the US government and its allies and to take George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard to the International Court on charges of crimes and against humanity and war crimes;
  • urged the Indonesian government to cut diplomatic relations with the US, UK and Australian governments and firmly prohibit the use of Indonesian territory for the mobilisation of military forces and equipment.

WALHI said it would stop its co-operation with USAID and clear outstanding administrative matters relating to previous co-operation as soon as possible. It would also stop negotiations on co-operation with DFID and AusAID. The group called on other groups in Indonesia and around the world to fight aggression and imperialism by the US and its allies and to stop co-operation with these governments.

WALHI, a network of 510 NGOs, student and community organisations, is Indonesia's member of Friends of the Earth International. It has run into trouble with funders in the past - specifically USAID - over its campaigns to expose pollution at the Freeport/Rio Tinto mine in West Papua. Another Indonesian NGO, the mining advocacy network JATAM, had its USAID funding cut over the group's campaigns against US-based companies and its call for a moratorium on all mining.

At least two regional members of the WALHI network - WALHI Jambi and WALHI South Kalimantan - have followed the national executive's lead and have rejected further funding from the three agencies.

The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and at least one women's organisation have also cut off relations with the agencies as a protest against the Iraq war. "This is a form of our protest against the attitude of the three countries which have ignored the international community," said YLBHI chairman Munarman.

The Indonesian NGOs' uncompromising position is a brave one: many Indonesian NGOs rely on funding from outside sources, although there has been a push among some NGOs to become more self-reliant in recent years. According to WALHI director Longgena Ginting, "in the long term it will benefit our organisation…This is momentum for us to decrease our dependency on donors and start to have more stable funding from the public."

The aid agencies' response to WALHI said that they respected the NGO's decision and that their programmes were independent from their foreign policy.

(Source:; Statement WALHI Jambi, 28/Mar/03; WALHI's political statement on Military Aggression to Iraq, National Executive of WALHI, Jakarta 24/Mar/03; WALHI Kalsel statement, 22/Apr/03; Jakarta Post 25/Mar/03)



"Help us to help the Indonesian environment" WALHI is seeking donations from generous individuals to help fund its environmental campaigns in Indonesia.

There are three urgent issues which need funding:

  1. Support for the people of Porsea, North Sumatra, to defend their environment from the pulp and paper mill (Indorayon/PT Toba Pulp Lestari) which is threatening their livelihoods [see also In Brief, and DTE 56]
  2. The Ladia Galaska campaign, Aceh, especially for investigations, lobbying, documentation and media campaign [see DTE 55 for background].
  3. Support for facilitating some legal cases where members of communities have been arrested by police when they oppose plans which threaten their lives: including cases in Southeast and Central Sulawesi. Also the legal case against Perhutani in East Java (Pacet) and Garut [see DTE 56 Fatal disasters...for background.]
Please send donations to:

Bank Mandiri, Cabang Mampang Prapatan, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Account No: 070.0003016420
Account name: Yayasan Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (WALHI)

or contact WALHI at for further information.

WALHI's website: