Joint Solidarity Letter concerning the Suspicious Death of Environmental Human Rights Activist Golfrid Siregar

We represent 240 civil society organizations writing in regards to Golfrid Siregar, an Indonesian environmental lawyer who died on October 6, 2019, under suspicious circumstances. On October 3, 2019, Golfrid Siregar was found beaten and abandoned on the side of a road in Medan. Although police claim his death was the result of a traffic accident, there are a number of irregularities and suspicious circumstances which suggest his death may have occurred as retaliation for his environmental and human rights advocacy work, thus warranting immediate further investigation.

We believe that environmental human rights defenders represent a country’s best and brightest – these are the individuals who put their lives on the line to make their country more fair, more safe, more just. As such, we stand with the Indonesian Civil Society Coalition for Human Rights Defenders Protection in urgently calling on the Indonesian government to immediately launch an independent, thorough investigation of Golfrid Siregar’s death. Failing to do so would suggest the Indonesian government’s ambivalence to the serious life and death struggles facing its own people.


Suspicious Circumstances

The Indonesian Civil Society Coalition for Human Rights Defenders Protection[1] has observed troubling irregularities, which suggest that Golfrid Siregar’s injuries were not caused by an ordinary traffic accident[2]. First, he suffered primarily from serious head injuries which caused his cranium to break, while the rest of his body remained largely uninjured. Second, family and friends reported that there were bruises to his right eye as if from a hard, direct blow. Third, mud and wet soil were found on his clothes, even though the area where he was found is paved, with no soil nearby. Fourth, his personal belongings, bag, laptop, wallet, phone, and ring were missing. Fifth, his motorcycle was mostly undamaged, and not reflective of being in a serious, fatal traffic accident[3]. It should also be noted that there were no bloodstains where he was found; his clothes were undamaged and did not show signs of Golfrid falling off the motorcycle.


Golfrid Siregar’s Life’s Work to Promote Environmental Protection and Human Rights

These suspicious circumstances are more troubling when seen in the context of Golfrid Siregar’s life’s work to promote human rights and environmental protection. Since 2016, Golfrid Siregar worked as Legal Manager at WALHI North Sumatra, where he advocated on behalf of local communities on a variety of cases involving illegal logging, mining, and forest encroachment, among others. One of his more recent cases involved a lawsuit against PT NSHE, the developer for the controversial Batang Toru Hydrodam in North Sumatra. Filed by WALHI North Sumatra, the lawsuit claimed that the company violated at least three Indonesian laws related to project permitting, good governance, and procedural flaws. He was also involved in exposing an expert’s forged signature in the project’s AMDAL (environmental impact assessment). Golfrid Siregar was extremely active in this case, and also filed a complaint with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in regards to potential embezzlement and corruption between the project developer PT NSHE and local government.  

In August and September of this year, he was in communication with the Investigation Supervision Role (Wassidik) and Professional and Security Division (Propam) at Indonesian Police Headquarters (Mabes POLRI) after submitting a report on concerning behavior of the Regional Police North Sumatra investigator. Forgery is a criminal offense, and so the forged signature in the Batang Toru Hydrodam was previously reported to the Regional Police. Golfrid’s report to Indonesian Police Headquarters (Mabes POLRI) raised concerns about the Regional Police of North Sumatra’s sudden issuance of a Termination Letter of Investigation (SP3), which essentially ended regional police investigation of forgery in Batang Toru Hydrodam’s AMDAL. In September, he was invited by the Professional and Security Division (Propam) Mabes POLRI to provide additional clarification to his report about the Regional Police’s Termination of Investigation (SP3), but requested to reschedule due to work responsibilities in Medan.

It should be noted that the Batang Toru Hydropower project has attracted controversy for not only its environmental, social, and biodiversity issues, but for the suspicious activities associated with the project developer PT NSHE. Scientific experts have been fired for speaking out against the project[4]; local environmental organizers report harassment, intimidation, and being followed by company hired men; and just recently, the Indonesian expert who testified that his signature was forged in the AMDAL for the Batang Toru Hydrodam project has been accused of defamation[5]


Our Request to the Indonesian Government, in Solidarity with Indonesian Civil Society

Within this context, Golfrid Siregar’s death is extremely suspicious, and it is not unreasonable to draw uncomfortable connections between his work as an environmental human rights defender and his tragic death. In light of this, we stand with Indonesian civil society organizations[6] in calling on the Indonesian state government to urgently take the following actions:

1. Launch an independent, robust investigation immediately in order to ascertain violations of human rights and freedom, which is in line with the international standard of the Declaration of Human Rights Defenders (Article 9 – Section 5) passed by the United Nations on December 9, 1998.

2. Establish an independent fact-finding team coordinated directly by the National Comission on Human Rights (KOMNAS HAM), and conduct a thorough, independent investigation.

3. Assign Indonesian Police Headquarters (Mabes POLRI) as lead investigators on Golfrid Siregar’s death and conduct the investigation in a public and transparent manner, given existing conflicts of interest within the local North Sumatran police department (POLDA Sumut) and Golfrid’s advocacy work to expose legal irregularities in local projects.

4. Immediately publish Presidential Regulations which establish and ensure protections for environmental, human rights defenders, so as to prevent any further violence and criminalization of those who may expose unjust or illegal activities at the price of their lives.

5. Establish and enshrine people’s rights to life and environmental sustainability as inviolable prerequisites within Indonesian policies and programs related to economic development.


Lastly, we note that Golfrid Siregar’s untimely death occurs as part of a broader patter of criminalization and intimidation of Indonesian environmental human rights defenders. These include Indra Pelani, Salim Kancil, Yohanes Balubun, Poroduka, and now Golfrid Siregar, as well as the attempted murder by arson experienced by Murdani in West Nusa Tenggara. As such, we strongly call on the Indonesian government to take the above actions in order to ensure that no more lives – the country’s best and brightest – will be lost in the future.


  1. 11.11.11 Belgium
  2. 350 Ghana Reducing Our Carbon
  3. Abibiman Foundation
  4. Accion Ecologica
  5. Accountability Counsel
  6. Africa Japan Forum
  7. Aliansi Jurnalis Independen
  8. Alyansa Tigil Mina 
  9. Amazon Watch
  10. Amics de la Terra Mallorca
  11. Amigos da Terra Brasil/Friends of the Earth Brazil
  12. Amigos de la Tierra Argentina/Friends of the Earth Argentina
  13. AMUMRA
  14. Animal People, Inc.
  15. Animals Asia
  16. Aotearoa New Zealand Human Rights Foundation
  17. ARA
  18. Arab Youth Climate Movement
  19. Asia Indigenous Peoples Network on Extractive Industries and Energy
  20. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development
  21. Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development
  22. Asociacion Ambiente y Sociedad
  23. Attac France
  24. Australian Rainforest Conservation Society
  25. Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association/Friends of the Earth Bangladesh
  26. Bangladesh Krishok Federation
  27. Bank Information Center
  28. BankTrack
  29. BIC Europe
  30. Biofuelwatch
  31. Bolivian Platform on Climate Change
  32. Borneo Futures
  33. Both ENDS
  34. Bruno Manser Fonds
  35. Buliisa Initiative for Rural Development Organisation
  36. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
  37. Cairns Climate Action Network
  38. Cameroon Network of Human Rights Organisations
  39. Campaign for Survival & Dignity
  40. Censat Agua Viva – Amigos de la Tierra Colombia
  41. Centar za životnu sredinu/Friends of the Earth Bosnia and Herzegovina
  42. Center for International Environmental Law
  43. Central Coast Greens
  44. Centre for Environmental Justice/Friends of the Earth Sri Lanka
  45. Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights/ Friends of the Earth Papua New Guinea
  46. Centro Amazónico de Antropología y Aplicación Practica
  47. Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos “Segundo Montes Mozo S.J.”
  48. Centro para la Autonomía y Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas
  49. CESTA/ Friends of the Earth El Salvador
  50. Clean Air Action Group
  51. Climate Watch Thailand
  52. Climaxi/Friends of the Earth Flanders
  53. CNCD-11.11.11
  54. Coal Action Network
  55. COECOCEIBA/ Amigos de la Tierra Costa Rica
  56. Colectivo Geografía Crítica Ecuador
  57. Community Empowerment and Social Justice Network
  58. Community Resource Centre
  59. Conseil Regional des Organisations Non Gouvernementales de Development
  60. CooperAcción
  61. Cordillera Peoples Alliance
  62. Corporate Europe Observatory
  63. deCOALonize Movement
  64. Democracy Green
  65. Diálogo 2000-Jubileo Sur Argentina
  66. E3G
  67. EarthRights International
  68. East Timor and Indonesia Action Network
  69. EcoEquity
  70. EJAtlas Project
  71. Environics Trust
  72. Environment and Conservation Organisations of NZ Inc.
  73. Environmental Association “Za Zemiata”
  74. Environmental Investigation Agency
  75. Environmental Justice Foundation
  76. EquityBD
  77. Esorg
  78. Federación Indígena Empresarial y Comunidades Locales de México
  79. Federación por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos Indígenas
  80. Fern
  81. FIAN Indonesia
  82. Focus Association for Sustainable Development/Friends of the Earth Slovenia
  83. Food & Water Action
  84. Forest Observatory
  85. Forest Peoples Programme
  86. Forum for Protection of Public Interest/Friends of the Earth Nepal
  87. Freedom from Debt Coalition
  88. Freedom House
  89. Friends of Same
  90. Friends of the Earth Australia
  91. Friends of the Earth Canada
  92. Friends of the Earth Czech Republic
  93. Friends of the Earth Europe
  94. Friends of the Earth EWNI (England, Wales, Northern Ireland)
  95. Friends of the Earth France
  96. Friends of the Earth International 
  97. Friends of the Earth Japan
  98. Friends of the Earth Liberia
  99. Friends of the Earth Scotland
  100. Friends of the Earth Spain
  101. Friends of the Earth Togo
  102. Friends of the Earth United States
  103. Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia
  104. Friends of the Siberian Forests
  105. Friends with Environment in Development
  106. Front Line Defenders
  107. Fundación Paso a Paso A.C.
  108. Gender and Water Justice
  109. Global Forest Coalition
  110. Global Justice Now
  111. Grassroots Global Justice
  112. Great Ape Project
  113. Green Advocates International
  114. Greenpeace Indonesia
  115. Greenpeace Southeast Asia
  116. Greenpeace United Kingdom
  117. groundWork/Friends of the Earth South Africa
  118. HABURAS Foundation /Friends of the Earth Timor Leste
  119. HEDA Resource Centre
  120. Hodopathy Ethno Medicine Doctors’ Association of India
  121. Iceland Nature Conservation Association
  122. IISCAL
  123. Inclusive Development International
  124. Indian Social Action Forum
  125. Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation
  126. Indigenous Perspectives
  127. Indonesia AIDS Coalition
  128. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
  129. Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities
  130. International Accountability Project
  131. International League of People’s Struggle – Commission 10
  132. International Platform against Impunity
  133. International Rivers
  134. International Service for Human Rights
  135. Jamaa Resource Initiatives
  136. Japan Tropical Forest Action Network
  137. Jordens Vänner/Friends of the Earth Sweden
  138. Justiça Ambiental/Friends of the Earth Mozambique
  139. Khan Kaneej aur ADHIKAR
  140. Koalice proti palmovému oleji
  141. Korea Federation for Environmental Movements/Friends of the Earth South Korea
  142. La Via Campesina
  143. Laudato si, z.s.
  144. Legal Rights and Natural Resources Centre/Friends of the Earth Philippines
  145. Lilak (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)
  146. London Mining Network
  147. LPESM Riau
  148. Lumiere Synergie Developpement
  149. Maleya Foundation
  150. Market Forces
  151. Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
  152. Mekong Watch
  153. Merdeka West Papua Support Network
  154. Mighty Earth
  155. Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth Netherlands
  156. Mom Loves Taiwan Association
  157. Mouvement Ecologique/Friends of the Earth Luxembourg
  158. Movimentu Dili Matak
  159. MultiWatch
  160. Myanmar Positive Group
  161. Nabilan
  162. Nacion Tawahka
  163. Narasha Community Development Group
  164. National Hawker Federation
  165. New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light
  166. NGO Forum on Asian Development Bank
  167. NGO Neuer Weg
  168. NIjmegen Internationale Samenwerking
  169. Northern District Community Health Centre Kerang
  170. Nostromo
  171. Nuclear Information and Resource Service
  172. Oil Change International
  173. Orang Utan Republik Foundation
  174. Orangutan Alliance Ltd.
  175. Orangutan Land Trust
  176. Oyu Tolgoi Watch
  177. Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum
  178. Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network/Friends of the Earth Palestine
  179. Palm Oil Watch
  180. PASAKA Confederation of Lumad Organizations in Southern Mindanao Region
  181. People’ Health Movement
  182. People’s Health Institute
  183. Plymouth Climate Council
  184. PRISMA Foundation
  185. Pro Natura/Friends of the Earth Switzerland
  186. Progress Lawyers Network
  187. Protect the Forest, Sweden
  188. Public Interest Law Centre
  189. Punganay
  190. Radio Rakambia
  191. Rainforest Action Network
  192. Rainforest Foundation Norway
  193. Re:Common
  194. REDES/Friends of the Earth Uruguay
  195. Resguardo indígena la mirla
  196. Rivers without Boundaries Coalition – Mongolia
  197. Rivers without Boundaries International Coalition
  198. Roraima Indigenous Council
  199. Russian Social-Ecological Union/Friends of the Earth Russia
  200. Sahabat Alam Malaysia/Friends of the Earth Malaysia
  201. Sanlakas
  202. Sarawak Campaign Committee
  203. SAVE Wildlife Conservation Fund
  204. Siemenpuu Foundation
  205. Solidar Suisse
  206. Solifonds
  207. SONIA for a Just New World
  208. Sri Lanka Nature Group
  210. Stop the Wall Campaign (Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign)
  211. Strategic Youth Network for Development
  212. Sumatran Orangutan Society
  213. Sustainability Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project
  214. Synchronicity Earth
  215. TAPOL
  216. Taunggyi Youth Center
  217. Tebtebba Foundation
  218. The Australian Rainforest Conservation Society
  219. The Citizens’ News
  220. The Corner House
  221. The Democracy Center
  222. The Oakland Institute
  223. The Waterloo Foundation
  224. Third World Network
  225. Tokyo East Timor Association
  226. Transparency International Korea
  227. Timorese Youths Initiative for Development
  228. UK Youth Climate Coalition
  229. Urgewald
  230. Watch Indonesia!
  231. Weald Action Group
  232. Wild Heritage
  233. Witnessradio
  234. WomanHealth
  235. WoMin African Alliance
  236. Woods & Wayside International
  237. World Rainforest Movement
  238. Youth For Environment Education And Development Foundation
  239. Zelena Akcija/Friends of the Earth Croatia
  240. Zoological Club


Countries represented








Bosnia Herzegovina


Brunei Darussalam



Catalunya (Spain)



Costa Rica


Czech Republic

Democratic Republic of Congo



El Salvador






Hong Kong


















New Zealand






Papua New Guinea










South Africa

South Korea


Sri Lanka








United Kingdom

United States


[1] The Indonesian Civil Society Coalition for Human Rights Defenders Protection include: WALHI, ELSAM, Imparsial, YLBHI, YPII, HRWG, ICEL, KontraS, ICW, LBH Pers, Kemitraan, PBHI, Greenpeace Indonesia, Human Rights Watch

[2] “Usut Tuntas Kematian Aktivis Golfrid Siregar, Hadirkan Negara untuk Lindungi Pembela HAM”, WALHI, October 10, 2019.

[3] Ayat S. Karokaro, “Suspicions of murder in death of Indonesian environmental activist”, Mongabay, October 9, 2019 – translated by Basten Gokko.

[4] Dyna Rochmyaningsih, “A dam threatens the world’s rarest ape. Why are some conservationists suddenly on board?”,  Science, September 10, 2019.

[5] Zulfadli Siregar, “Dosen USU Onrizal Diperiksa Siber Ditreskrimsus Poldasu Terkait UU ITE”, Medan Bisnis Daily, October 10, 2019.

[6] The Indonesian Civil Society Organizations have issued a joint statement calling on the Indonesian government to urgently take these actions. The joint statement can be found here:

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