Palm Oil Is in Everything from Soap to Waffles — And Causing Massive Human Suffering and Environmental Harm
Earth Island Journal/
Palm Oil Is in Everything from Soap to Waffles — And Causing Massive Human Suffering and Environmental Harm
By David Gilbert
December 19, 2012

Early one morning last April, after a long night of impassioned discussion, Jamaludin, a rice farmer from the Indonesian village of Semunying Jaya on the island of Borneo, rallied a handful of his neighbors to walk to a nearby road built by the palm oil company Duta Palma and, in a simple act of defiance, sit down.

The group’s intent was to stop the flow of traffic between the palm oil plantation, which had been carved from the surrounding rainforest that the villagers call their home, and its buyers across the nearby border, in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It did not take long for the first truck to stop. Soon, trucks carrying palm oil fruits to Malaysia and trucks hauling fertilizers and insecticides from the other direction were parked in long lines along the road.

After four hours of blocked traffic, eight military men showed up to talk to Jamaludin and his neighbors. They did not wear uniforms, but military IDs hung around their necks and a few had assault rifles strapped behind their backs. The officials asked the villagers to stand up. The group refused. Then, to the protesters’ great surprise, the military left.

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