JAKARTA — Indonesian academics have called out the government for banning five foreign scientists after they questioned official claims of an increase in the country’s orangutan population, warning that the move sets a disturbing precedent for academic freedom. In a statement to the government, scientists grouped under the Academic Freedom Advocacy Team called the ban on Erik Meijaard, Julie Sherman, Marc Ancrenaz, Hjalmar Kühl and Serge Wich a form of anti-science policy and power control over the production of knowledge. “What Erik Meijaard et al. did is produce knowledge,” Herlambang Wiratraman, a law professor at Gadjah Mada University and member of the team, said after submitting the statement to the environment ministry in Jakarta on Dec. 1. “Banning [them] is an anti-science policy. It’s very regrettable.” In September, the ministry banned the foreign scientists from conducting research in connection with the country’s national parks and conservation agencies. This move appeared to be spurred by an op-ed penned by Meijaard and the others in a local newspaper that took issue with the ministry’s claims that the country’s critically endangered orangutans were bouncing back after decades of steady decline. The scientists wrote that a wide range of scientific studies show that all three orangutan species native to Indonesia have declined in the past few decades and that nowhere are populations growing — contrary to the ministry’s line that the three species’ populations are growing and will continue to grow. The ministry accused the scientists of writing with “negative intentions” that could “discredit”…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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