The open letter was signed by representatives of Walhi, Indonesia Environmental Forum; Greenpeace Indonesia; Kontras; YLBHI; AMAN, Alliance of Indigenous People of the Archipelago; Gerakan IBUKOTA; Koalisi Rakyat untuk Keadilan Perikanan, People's Coalition for Fishery Justice; Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria, the Agrarian Renewal Consortium; Pusat Studi Hukum dan Kebijakan, the Law and Policy Study Center; Rimbawan Muda Indonesia; and Solidaritas Perempuan, Women Solidarity.
"This is already in a state of emergency, and most victims constitute vulnerable groups, such as infants, children, women, and seniors," Khalisah Khalid of the Walhi National Executive Council remarked during a press conference here on Monday.
They believed that the emergency condition, caused by smog from forest fires, should have been prevented and tackled earlier, as it was not the first time that Indonesia had experienced it.
Khalid censured several government officials for holding indigenous people and farmers responsible for the disaster.
Chairperson of the Knowledge Management of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) Siti Rakhma, who also signed the open letter, affirmed that the current smog emergency condition in Sumatra and Kalimantan had brought to the fore the pressing question of why the government had not yet taken prompt action to prevent and stop it.
"Once again, the community or farmers using fire to clear land have been accused, when in fact, they have the local wisdom in doing that," he emphasize.
The NGOs, grouped in the Coalition of Civilian Communities, have urged President Jokowi to immediately take emergency response measures, develop a swift response system, and review licenses of companies whose plantations have hotspots.
Thick smog from forest fires has blanketed several cities and villages in Kalimantan and Sumatra, compelling the closure of schools and causing respiratory ailments among thousands of people.