MAC: Mines and Communities

Papuans struggle - and die - as mining conflict intensifies

Published by MAC on 2011-10-25
Source: Reuters, Jakarta Globe, The Age, AHRC (2011-10-22)

There's no sign that conflicts between trade unionists and the management of the world's largest gold-copper mine are close to resolution. See: Striking Freeport miners shot dead in Indonesian strike

On the contrary, within recent days several more people have been murdered in Freeport-Rio Tinto's huge Grasberg lease area in Papua (West Papua).

Moreover, one Indigenous delegate was shot dead by police, and 300 arrested, during a Congress held last week by the Papuan Peoples Congress.

Comment by Nostromo Research: So far there is nothing to link these killings directly with the two giant mining companies. Some reports suggest that Freeport-Rio Tinto is about to declare "force majeure" at its Papuan operations - even to the point of closing Grasberg down.

But it appears that the mineworkers union is still involved in talks with management over wage increases. Clearly, a closure would leave thousands of workers without a livelihood, and they are striving to reach an acceptable settlement.

One overwhelming conclusion can be drawn: what started as a "labour dispute", two months ago, has now been compounded by other acts, and threats, of violence.

Indonesia's police and military are now at a "state of alert" (a euphemism for outright aggression) in the mining area, not seen for a long time.

The forces' vicious October 19th attack on a peaceful gathering of several thousand Indigenous Papuans is a dark omen for the future of all the territory's inhabitants.

Three Killed In Shootings Near Freeport

Camelia Pasandaran, Agus Triyono & Ronna Nirmala 

Jakarta Globe

22 October 2011

Three people were killed in three separate attacks near the giant gold and copper mine operated by a local subsidiary of Freeport-McMoRan, police said on Friday.

Officials say Freeport's Papuan workers receive the lowest wages of any Freeport facility in the world
Officials say Freeport's Papuan workers receive the lowest wages
of any Freeport facility in the world. Source: EPA / Al Jazeera

Union leaders at the mine said there was no connection between the attacks and an ongoing strike that has at times turned violent.
National Police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam said the first attack was an ambush on a passing vehicle at Mile 38 of the main Freeport road before sunrise on Friday that left the driver dead.

The driver was a Freeport employee, said the regional military commander, Maj. Gen. Erfi Triassunu. Antara news agency identified him as Aloysius Margana, an uncle of lawmaker Roy Suryo.

In the other attacks, which took place about 15 minutes after the first, two residents were shot dead at their homes at Mile 39.

Anton said the two residents were gold panners. One, identified as Yunus, managed to flee with a gunshot wound but died shortly after. The other, identified as Eto, died at the scene.

He said there were believed to have been around 10 people involved in the attacks, and that police and soldiers had been deployed to locate them.

He said that based on the shell casings collected from the scenes, the assailants were thought to have used M16s, AK-47s or SS1s, the standard assault rifles used by the Indonesian military.

Eleven witnesses have so far been questioned, he added.

Triassunu said he had sent soldiers to help the police pursue the perpetrators, who are believed to have fled east.

Friday's attacks were the third in roughly the same area recently. Last Friday, three people were killed in an ambush, and in April, two Freeport workers died when their vehicle was shot at and set on fire. The perpetrators were never caught.

Virgo Solossa, an official for the mine workers' union, denied a connection between the striking workers and the attacks.

"This has nothing to do with our struggle," he said.

Joseph Adi Prasetyo, from the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM), echoed Virgo.

"We are asking Freeport not to link the labor issues that it is currently facing with the security situation. They are different things," Joseph said.

Freeport blamed strikers for several earlier incidents, including a clash with police that left two people dead and an alleged sabotage on a mine pipeline.

Most of the mine's unionized workers have taken part in the strike, which began on Sept. 15.

The mine holds some of the world's largest gold and copper reserves. It is located in the remote mountains of West Papua, which has seen decades of low-level separatist insurgency.


Police in Timika kill one union protester and injure others at Freeport

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-204-2011

11 October 2011
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INDONESIA: Police in Timika kill one union protester and injure others at Freeport

ISSUES: Extrajudicial killing; right to life; police violence; freedom of expression; indigenous people; labour rights
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information regarding the extrajudicial killing of trade union member Peter W. Ayamiseba and the injury of several persons in police shootings during a union protest on October 10, 2011 at PT Freeport Indonesia in West Papua. The workers were protesting against the illegal termination of their contracts following their earlier union strike for wage increases. The police appear to have used lethal ammunition against the protesters. (right: Peter W. Ayamiseba/photo source:Chemical Energy Mining Union-All Indonesia Workers Union)

Case Narrative:

According to the Chemical Energy Mining Union-All Indonesia Workers Union (Serikat Pekerja Kimia Energi Pertambangan-Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia) in Timika, West Papua, since September 15, 2011, PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) employees were on strike demanding wage adjustments. PT Freeport Indonesia is running controversial mining activities in Indonesia's resource rich province of West Papua. The company in the past has paid military and police to run security operations for them. The majority of striking workers were indigenous Papuans. Based on the wages of up to USD 15 per hour provided to workers by the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold group in other countries, the West Papuan workers demanded their USD 1.5/hr wage to be increased to USD 3/hr. The employees sought negotiations with the management of the company, but were not given opportunities for a serious dialogue; instead, they faced direct intimidation from the management or through the police.

According to article 144 of Indonesia's law No 13/2003 concerning Manpower, protesting workers are protected from any termination of their employment:

Article 144
In the event of a strike performed in observance of what is stipulated under Article 140, the entrepreneur is prohibited from:
a. Replacing striking workers/ labourers with other workers/ labourers from outside of the enterprise; or
b. Imposing sanctions on or taking retaliatory actions in whatever form against striking workers/labourers and union officials during and after the strike is performed

In violation of this law however, PTFI fired the striking workers and employed new personnel as their replacement.

On October 10, the employees returned to their work location to protest against their termination and demanded their jobs back. At 9:30am, protesting employees from seven indigenous tribes that customarily hold the land of the Tembagapura mining location, and around 1000 employees from other areas walked to the entrance gate of the Gorong-gorong company bus transportation terminal (from where the PTFI run a bus to take the workers back to their dormitories). The police from Timika District Police (POLRES) had placed guards in front of the terminal, and refused to let the protesters enter, despite negotiation attempts by Mr. Anis Natkime (chief of the seven involved indigenous tribes).
The police then fired warning shots at the protesters causing those in the front rows to leave. When the protesters in subsequent rows tried to make their way forward to the gate, the police started shooting into the crowd, resulting in panic. Peter W. Ayamiseba, Freeport employee in the catering division, was shot in the shoulder and died at the scene. At least nine more persons were injured. The then enraged crowd responded by throwing stones at the police.

The police in turn fired several random shots at the protesters. While some reports claim that the police were merely using rubber bullets, the deadly wounds and the ammunition cartridges found at the scene indicate otherwise. Despite the police's use of tear gas, the situation escalated further, resulting in the police withdrawing inside the gate they were trying to defend.

Mr. Ayamiseba's corpse was then brought directly to the Timika Regional General Hospital (RSUD), where the cause of his death was confirmed to have resulted from metal bullets. Nine other injured protesters (male) were also brought to the same hospital: Leo Wandagau and Melkias Rumbiak were wounded in the back by rubber bullets; Alius Komba was hit with a rifle in his stomach; Philiton Kogoya was hit by a rifle in his head; Ahmad Mustofa was wounded in the head and back by rubber bullets; Yunus Ngur W was shot in the stomach by police and operated upon in the hospital; Yusuf Kurni was wounded in his left hand by rubber bullets; Emeleanus Beanal was wounded in his right hand and left leg by rubber bullets and had bruises in his stomach caused by hits with a shotgun; and Chary Suripto was wounded in his left hand by the explosion of a tear gas unit.

The hospital did not provide the victims with any medical records however, and their requests for obtaining such reports were denied without providing any reason. This is in violation of regulation no. 269/2008 from the Indonesian Ministry of Health, which states that information about the patient's identity, diagnosis and medical history can be provided at the request and consent of the patient (article 10.2b) and that the content of the medical records belongs to the patient and can be provided to persons authorized by the patient or the patient's family (article 12.1).

A tenth and so far unidentified person (non-indigenous Papuan) among the protesters was also injured. Since he carried no identity documents and was not known to any of the other workers, he is suspected to have conducted intelligence activities for the police or the company during the protests, and to have been injured by accident.

On September 10, the workers laid Mr. Ayamiseba's corpse at the entrance gate of the Timika office of the Papuan Regional Autonomy Parliament (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah - DPRD) expecting Mr. James R. Moffett, chairman of PT Freeport Indonesia to come and take up his responsibility in the case and to ensure that both company management and police are held accountable. Until September 12 Mr. Moffet had not appeared, and the body of victim was then taken to the the Timika Regional General Hospital (RSUD) for an autopsy.

Additional Information:
West Papua, Indonesia's resource rich province, which also has the highest poverty levels in the country, suffers from extensive mining operations by multinational corporations and illegal activities by security forces. Many years of mining and export of its valuable resources have yet to result in an improvement of the living conditions of indigenous Papuans (including improvement in unemployment, education, health care). The illegal payments made to the police and military to maintain security for the mining activities indirectly creates incentives for the security forces to prolong security risks that require their intervention. Excessive force continues to be largely ignored, and perpetrators are not held accountable. The disproportional influence of PT Freeport Indonesia in public institutions in the wider Timika area, including institutions of justice, remains a serious concern. This contributes to prolonging the conflict between authorities, mining companies and the large indigenous population.

Suggested action:
Please write letters to the authorities listed below asking them to investigate into this case immediately, and to prosecute the responsible police officers for using illegal force. In particular, it is essential that this case is not buried or ignored as most cases regarding PT Freeport Indonesia are.

Please be informed that the AHRC is sending letters on this case to the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous people and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, calling for their strong interventions.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

INDONESIA: Police in Timika kill one union protester and injure others at Freeport

Name of victims: Peter W. Ayamiseba, Leo Wandagau, Melkias Rumbiak, Alius Komba, Philiton Kogoya Ahmad Mustofa, Yunus Ngur W, Yusuf Kurni, Emeleanus Beanal and Chary Suripto (members of Serikat Pekerja Kimia Energi Pertambangan-Serikat Pekerja Seluruh Indonesia/ Chemical Energy Mining Union-All Indonesia Workers Union)
Names of alleged perpetrators: members of Timika Dictrict Police
Date of incident: 10 October 2011
Place of incident: The entrance gate of the Gorong-gorong company bus transportation terminal

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the killing of Peter Ayamiseba, an employee of PT Freeport Indonesia on 10 October 2011 by members of Timika District Police (POLRES), when PT Freeport Indonesia employees were on strike demanding wage adjustments. Nine other protesters were also injured by the police.

According to the information I have received from the Asian Human Rights Commission, since September 15, 2011 PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) employees were on strike demanding wage adjustments. PT Freeport Indonesia is running controversial mining activities in West Papua, Indonesia's resource rich province. The company had in the past paid military and police for running security operations for them. The majority of striking workers were indigenous Papuans. Based on the wages of up to USD 15 per hour provided to workers by the Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold group in other countries, the West Papuan workers demanded their USD 1.5/hr wage to be increased to USD 3/hr. The employees sought negotiations with the management of the company, but were not given opportunities for a serious dialogue; instead, they faced direct intimidation from the management or through the police.

According to article 144 of Indonesia's law No 13/2003 concerning Manpower, protesting workers are protected from any termination of their employment:

Article 144
In the event of a strike performed in observance of what is stipulated under Article 140, the entrepreneur is prohibited from:
a. Replacing striking workers/ labourers with other workers/ labourers from outside of the enterprise; or
b. Imposing sanctions on or taking retaliatory actions in whatever form against striking workers/labourers and union officials during and after the strike is performed

In violation of this law however, PTFI fired the striking workers and employed new personnel as their replacement.

I am informed that on October 10, the employees returned to their work location to protest against their termination and demanded their jobs back. At 9:30am, protesting employees from seven indigenous tribes that customarily hold the land of the Tembagapura mining location, and around 1000 employees from other areas walked to the entrance gate of the Gorong-gorong company bus transportation terminal (from where the PTFI run a bus to take the workers back to their dormitories). The police had placed guards in front of the terminal, and refused to let the protesters enter, despite negotiation attempts by Mr. Anis Natkime (chief of the seven involved indigenous tribes).

I am disturbed to learn that the police then fired warning shots at the protesters, causing those in the front rows to leave. When the protesters in subsequent rows tried to make their way forward to the gate, the police started shooting into the crowd, resulting in panic. Peter W. Ayamiseba, Freeport employee in the catering division, was shot in the shoulder and died at the scene. At least nine more persons were injured. The then enraged crowd responded by throwing stones at the police.

The police in turn fired several random shots at the protesters. While some reports claim that the police were merely using rubber bullets, it has come to my attention that the deadly wounds and the ammunition cartridges found at the scene indicate otherwise. Despite the police's use of tear gas, the situation escalated further, resulting in the police withdrawing inside the gate they were trying to defend.

Mr. Ayamiseba's corpse was then brought directly to the Timika Regional General Hospital (RSUD), where the cause of his death was confirmed to have resulted from metal bullets. Nine other injured protesters (male) were also brought to the same hospital: Leo Wandagau and Melkias Rumbiak were wounded in the back by rubber bullets; Alius Komba was hit with a rifle in his stomach; Philiton Kogoya was hit by a rifle in his head; Ahmad Mustofa was wounded in the head and back by rubber bullets; Yunus Ngur W was shot in the stomach by police and operated upon in the hospital; Yusuf Kurni was wounded in his left hand by rubber bullets; Emeleanus Beanal was wounded in his right hand and left leg by rubber bullets and had bruises in his stomach caused by hits with a shotgun; and Chary Suripto was wounded in his left hand by the explosion of a tear gas unit.

The hospital did not provide the victims with any medical records however, and their requests for obtaining such reports were denied without providing any reason. This is in violation of regulation no. 269/2008 from the Indonesian Ministry of Health, which states that information about the patient's identity, diagnosis and medical history can be provided at the request and consent of the patient (article 10.2b) and that the content of the medical records belongs to the patient and can be provided to persons authorized by the patient or the patient's family (article 12.1).

A tenth and so far unidentified person (non-indigenous Papuan) among the protesters was also injured. Since he carried no identity documents and was not known to any of the other workers, he is suspected to have conducted intelligence activities for the police or the company during the protests, and to have been injured by accident.

On September 10, the workers laid Mr. Ayamiseba's corpse at the entrance gate of the Timika office of the Papuan Regional Autonomy Parliament (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah - DPRD) expecting Mr. James R. Moffett, chairman of PT Freeport Indonesia to come and take up his responsibility in the case and to ensure that both company management and police are held accountable. Until September 12 Mr. Moffet had not appeared, and the body of victim was then taken to the Timika Regional General Hospital (RSUD) for an autopsy.

In light of the above information I am of the opinion that the killing of Peter W. Ayamiseba and the violation of the rights of several workers who were threatened by the police with regard to their freedom of speech and expression is in contravention of Indonesia's constitution.

I am therefore urging you to take immediate action in this case, and to ensure that it is not buried or ignored, as happens to most cases involving PT Freeport Indonesia. An impartial criminal investigation must be conducted by a professional investigation team for police officers who were using lethal ammunition which resulted in the killing and injury of several workers. An independent investigation team should also subsequently conduct an investigation into the allegation of corruption based on the payments made by the company to the police. All those found guilty must be prosecuted according to the law.

I also urge you to ensure that PT Freeport Indonesia takes responsibility for the outcome of the conflict, for which they share responsibility and ensure that there are no more violations of labour rights.

I am looking forward to your intervention in this case.

Yours sincerely,

--

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
The President of Indonesia
Jl. Veteran No. 16
Jakarta Pusat
INDONESIA
Tel.: +62 21 3863777, 3503088.
Fax: +62 21 3442223

2. The Minister of Manpower and Transmigration
Jl. Jend. Gatot Subroto Kav. 51 Jakarta 12950
INDONESIA
Tel.: +62 21 5229285, 7989924
Fax: +62 21 7974488

3. Head of Indonesian Police
Markas Besar Kepolisian Indonesia
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Kebayoran Baru
South Jakarta 12110
INDONESIA
Tel. +62 21 3848537 / 7260306 / 7218010
Fax: +62 21 7220669
E-mail: info@polri.go.id

4. Head of Division of Profession and Security of Indonesian Police
Markas Besar Kepolisian Indonesia
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Kebayoran Baru
South Jakarta 12110
INDONESIA
Tel.: +62 21 3848537, 7260306 / 7218010
Fax: +62 21 7220669
E-mail: info@polri.go.id

5. Chairman of the National Police Commission (Kompolnas)
Jl. Tirtayasa VII No. 20 Komplek PTIK Jakarta Selatan
INDONESIA
Tel.: +62 21 739 2352
Fax: +62 21 739 2317

6. Head of Papua Regional Police
Jl. Samratulangi No. 8 Jayapura
INDONESIA
Tel.: + 62 967 531014
Fax: +62 967 533763

7. Head of Division of Profession and Security of Papua Regional Police
Jl. Dr. Sam Ratulangi No. 8
Jayapura
INDONESIA
Tel.: + 62 967 531834

8. Head of Timika District Police
Jl. Agimuga No. 03, Mike 32
Timika Papua
INDONESIA
Tel.: +62 901 301974

9. Office of The Anti Judicial Mafia Task Force (Satgas)
PO Box 9949
Jakarta 10 000
INDONESIA
Contact on website: http://www.satgas-pmh.go.id/?q=node/157

10. Head of National Commission on Human Rights of Indonesia
Jalan Latuharhary No.4-B,
Jakarta 10310
INDONESIA
Tel.: +62 21 392 5227-30
Fax: +62 21 392 5227
E-mail: info@komnas.go.id

Thank you.


Threat to close giant Grasberg copper/gold mine as force majeure looms

Michael Taylor

Reuters

19 October 2011

JAKARTA - Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold is considering shutting down its strike-hit Grasberg mine as one of several contingency plans if security does not improve, as it struggles with one of the worst labour disruptions in Indonesia's mining industry.

This comes as the world's second-largest copper mine resumed producing at a reduced rate on Tuesday, after halting output on Monday.

The owner of the mine, which is facing strike action over pay and work conditions, road blockades and possible pipeline sabotage, said in a statement that it "will temporarily suspend and/or curtail concentrate production as conditions warrant".

It said preparations for a controlled shutdown, that could lead to an eventual mothballing of the mine, would begin with the flushing of all remaining materials from its pipelines.

"We are continuing to assess whether or not the security conditions are conducive for us to continue production," a Freeport spokesman told Reuters.

"Based on the situation that we had Sunday night and Monday, we are preparing for contingencies for a controlled shutdown," he said, adding this would preserve its $2-$3 billion assets in Indonesia.

Freeport Indonesia halted production of copper, gold and silver at the remote Papuan mountain mine on Monday due to security fears, worker blockades and after the main pipe transporting concentrate to its port was cut, in the worst supply disruption since a two-month strike began a month ago.

"The road is still blocked... that's true and that's a big problem for us," the spokesman said.

The stoppage on Monday had helped to push copper prices to three-week highs and pounded shares of the Phoenix, Arizona-based firm, ahead of its third-quarter earnings release on Wednesday.

Freeport is also facing problems in Peru, where workers at its copper mine launched a hunger strike this week on hopes of pressuring the government to resolve a labour row 19 days into a walkout.

Analysts and traders said that the firm might declare force majeure on its Indonesian shipments soon. Freeport did not say at what stage force majeure -- which allows it not to meet contractual obligations due to events beyond its control -- would be decided.

"It's going to vary depending on what the schedule of our shipment deliveries are in any given moment of time, and whether or not we're going to be able to meet that schedule or work with customers to make appropriate arrangements to work through that schedule," a spokesman said.

Setback

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange fell more than 3 percent to $7,250 a tonne at 1157 GMT, on persistent concerns over the euro zone debt crisis.

"If the strike and mine closure is ongoing, this will underpin the price at the $7,000 a tonne mark almost irrespective of the euro zone sovereign debt situation," said Citigroup analyst David Thurtell.

"Force majeure can surely only be hours or days away."

The stoppage is a setback for Freeport after it said last week it had cranked up copper concentrate output at Grasberg to average above 4,000 tonnes daily by relying largely on non-unionized and contract workers, a move criticized by the government.

"For the repair of the pipeline -- the section in mile 45 that was cut -- I believe we've already got a temporary repair done on that," the spokesman said. He denied initial comments by a company source that the concentrate plant would be shut for 30 days.

The firm said it had still managed to ship 103,189 tonnes of concentrate in the past week, though with blockades and rising worker tension, it was unclear if more shipments can be made.

The Indonesian energy and mining minister said some production had resumed on Tuesday.

"We still have concentrate that's been dried at the port side. The last I heard, there were hopes to continue loading concentrate on ships," the company spokesman said.

Freeport is a major tax contributor to Indonesia and the government said it is committed to resolving the dispute and preventing it from escalating.

Blockades

Road blockades, part of the strike by around 12,000 of the mine's 23,000 workers, have stopped containers carrying food and medicine from reaching the mine and jet fuel from reaching the nearest airport, the company said on Monday.

"Currently in Tembagapura there are some workers, mostly contractors," a Freeport worker, who asked not to be named, told Reuters. Tembagapura, in the north of the province, is the site of the mine.

"They are operating heavy machinery, maintenance and electricity.

"A circulated email to senior staff, distributed to workers, said there is a security guarantee from security forces and working contractors will be paid double."

A clash earlier last week between striking workers and police near the mine led to the death of two protesters and injured others, while three men were killed in a shooting late last week, though it was unclear if that was linked to the pay dispute or an independence movement.

"The road to the port is blocked and has been blocked since last Monday, which means we can't get the supplies that we need," the spokesman said. "We continue to work with the government and security authorities, to try to provide adequate security."

An official with the Freeport workers union said on Tuesday it was still blockading roads, but plans to stop once a permanent agreement has been reached with the company.

The official said Freeport had not approached the union for further negotiations, while there had been no security incidents on Tuesday.

"Community activities are running normally, except logistic distribution for the company as roads are being blocked," said Juli Parorrongan, a union spokesman.

"We haven't received information on who did the (pipe) cutting," she added. "But I was informed that there was a landslide at mile 70 and the pipe could be broken because of it. I assure you, it was not the workers."


Striking Mine Workers Face Death Threats

By Setyo Budi

New Matilda

20 October 2011

West Papua's striking mine workers continue their standoff at Freeport's Grasberg mine despite increasing danger and the presence of a foreign security firm.

At 10pm on 11 September, the chief negotiator in West Papua's ongoing Freeport strikes was sitting alone on the veranda of his house. Sudiro had spent all day with Freeport Indonesia management, bargaining for a wage rise for the members of his union - the All Indonesia Workers Union (SPSI) Freeport division.

Suddenly a bowl that was sitting on a table close to him was hit by a bullet and shattered. The shot was a clear warning to Sudiro: if he continues to fight for wage parity for the workers at Freeport's Grasberg mine, he will be killed.

"I was surprised when I got home that night and told that our leader was shot [at]," Albar Sabang from the SPSI told New Matilda in a phone interview. "We don't know who shot him. The gunman used a silencer."

The shooting took place on the same day the union received a letter from Freeport management requesting the union "not propagate a strike action and recruit workers to join the strike".

Talks between the SPSI and Freeport management over the 2011-2013 contract terms took place from 21 July to 19 August this year. The parties failed to reach an agreement and the deadline was extended to 26 August with the same result.

In the beginning the union bargained for a wage increase from US$1.50-$3 to US$35-$200 per hour. This demand was decreased to $30-$100 per hour during negotiations, and is now at $12-$37.50 per hour. Last year, the company gave the workers only a 3 per cent wage increase.

As the negotiation went into deadlock, the union called a month-long strike, which started on 14 September. The strike now continues for a second month and this week Freeport was forced to halt production at the mine after a pipe carrying gold and copper to the port was severed.

The workers demand a parity wage with their comrades who work in other Freeport mines in North and South America. Freeport workers in West Papua receive the lowest wages of all Freeport workers - lower than workers in Mongolia or the Congo.

In a letter that was forwarded to New Matilda, SPSI argues that their demands are based on the fact that Freeport Indonesia has profited more than its sister companies in Peru, Chile, Arizona and New Mexico. Their skills are equivalent to their fellow workers in those mining areas, and profit margins are believed to be as high as 60 per cent. Their working conditions are harsher and more dangerous, and the price of gold, copper and silver has significantly increased.

Freeport's Grasberg mining complex is one of the world's largest single producers of both copper and gold, and contains the largest recoverable reserves of copper and the largest single gold reserve in the world.

In an interview via email, Sabang describes the terrain and working conditions at the mine:

"The mining area is located up to 4200 metres above sea level that require the workers to take an hour journey by busses, and trams. The weather in the area is cold, and misty, especially in Grasberg open pit area, and rains heavily all day. They have to wear four layers of clothes to work. They have to work five days to seven days a week. They have to work up to 10 hours a day. For those who work in the Maintenance Department, sometimes have to work from 12 to 14 hours a day."

From the beginning of the negotiations, relations between the two parties were uneasy. In a letter to the Indonesian Minister of Mining and Energy dated 16 September, Freeport management accused the union of "intimidating and threatening those who did not participate in the strike". The letter also said that the workers' demand to have to have a "wage increase equals to workers in the developed countries is irrational".

The letter continues: "If [the wage increase] takes place it will affect our national economy, as [it] will create high inflation and our country competitiveness in the international market."

In the same letter, Freeport management told the minister "to avoid a great loss, it will recruit temporary workers to replace those who were on strike". These workers are to be employed in the operational field and maintenance.

In his reply to Freeport management dated 21 September, the director general of coal and minerals, Thamrin Sihite, said the Indonesian government "understands the situation, and allow Freeport Indonesia to use sub-contractors to replace the striking workers". This decision resulted in the death of one worker, Petrus Amayiseba, and 10 others were injured when the police (who had been hired by Freeport) opened fire at them during a scuffle on 10 October when striking workers tried to prevent replacement workers from travelling to the mine.

Amayiseba's death triggered solidarity protests across Indonesia and was condemned by Amnesty International.

There was another shooting incident on 15 October when a busload of workers was riddled with bullets and three workers were killed. On the same day, Leo Wandagau, a 34-year-old striking worker who was a victim of the shooting incident on 10 October, reportedly died in the local hospital.

Since the shooting incidents union officials have received threats from the police. On 11 October, the police commander in Mimika, Edward Siregar, allegedly told Sudiro "let's see who is more powerful, your organisation or the police. I will finish you and your followers off".

The strike has had a huge impact on Freeport Indonesia's operation. It is reported that the company has lost 1361 metric tons of copper and 5000 ounces of gold a day because of the strike. As well, the Indonesian government is reportedly losing about US$8.2 million dollars a day in taxes, revenue and dividends.

Unlike Freeport, which only pursues an economic interest, the Indonesian government also has political interests in the region. The Freeport mining area has been used by the government as a foreign diplomacy bargaining chip against the West Papuans' desire for independence. For the Indonesian military the mine has also been a source of revenue.

Al Jazeera reports that Freeport has illegally paid individual soldiers and policemen to secure the Grasberg complex and its staff. A report by Global Witness revealed that an additional $10 million had been paid directly to individual military and police commanders between 1998 and 2004.

This included payments of $247,000 between May 2001 and March 2003 to General Mahidin Simbolon, who was responsible for the 1999 East Timor massacre, and monthly payments throughout 2003 to the police Mobile Brigade, which is known for numerous serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial killings, torture, rape, and arbitrary detention.

During the strikes, Freeport management has intimidated the workers via local media and text messages and visited the workers' houses and asked them to go back to work.

Now, they have also employed the private British security firm Securicor - which merged with Group 4 Falck in 2004 to form G4S (Group Four Securicor). G4S came to prominence in Australia in 2008 over the death of an Australian Aboriginal man, Mr Ward, in the back of one of its transport vans. The firm has also been the subject of controversy over its treatment of immigration detainees here.

An SPSI official told New Matilda that Securicor officers have intimidated the striking workers and operated beyond their working areas. SPSI also said that on 23 September Securicor and police officers went to the SPSI office in Freeport to arrest one of the members, Jimmy Deda, but were stopped by other workers. On the same day Securicor and Freeport management brought in temporary workers to replace the striking workers in Mile 38.

In response to their prolongation of the strike action, Freeport Indonesia has sacked all SPSI officials and taken over SPSI headquarters at the mine. In a letter dated 5 October, management wrote to Sudiro, "We would like to request a house on Tembagapura St number. 380 that was provided for SPSI last year by October 8. If the house is not emptied, we will pack all documents and stationaries".

The workers' struggle in Freeport is a struggle for justice; a struggle that is shared by many West Papuans. It is a struggle against greed and the powerful elites in Jakarta and Papua that have made West Papuans poor. The natural resources have become curse for the local population.

For this reason, the seven tribal chiefs who represent the population of Freeport areas wrote a letter on 25 September to support the striking workers. They too threaten to "close the mines" unless the workers' demands are met.

__________________________________________________________________________

Indonesians fire on West Papuan activists

By Tom Allard

The Age (Australia)

20 October 2011

Bali - INDONESIAN security forces yesterday fired on a mass meeting of West Papuans and arrested leaders and activists after participants at the Papuan People's Congress declared independence for the restive region.

Police arrest attendees of the Third Papuan People Congress in Abepura, located on the outskirts of Jayapura in Indonesia's Papua province, October 19, 2011. About 300 people were arrested after police and troop dispersed the crowd at the event in response to what was believed to be an announcement by the Papuan Peoples' Assembly (MRP) declaring the province's independence from Indonesia, a police officer said on Wednesday.

There were reports at least one person was killed as thousands of terrified delegates stampeded from the oval where the congress was being held under the close watch of up to 5000 security personnel.

''It started about 30 minutes after the congress was completed,'' said Oktovianus Pogau, an activist. ''People were running in all directions ... [the military] and police are everywhere on the streets, armed.''

Earlier, representatives of more than 200 indigenous West Papuan tribes had elected Forkorus Yoboisembut as their president and Edison Waromi as prime minister. Mr Yoboisembut then declared independence from Jakarta's rule, prompting police to detain him.

According to another witness account, the leader's bodyguards attempted to stop the arrest and then police responded by shooting their weapons. Mr Yoboisembut and Mr Waromi were both reportedly detained, along with other activists and organisers.

West Papua's military commander, Major-General Erfi Triassunu, confirmed the shooting, but insisted it was only a warning. He told the Jakarta Globe there were no casualties but said the shots were fired in response to the announcement of independence.

Jayapura Police Chief Imam Setiawan said hundreds of people had been arrested for subversion, Kompas online reported.

The Papuan People's Congress is a hugely significant event for indigenous West Papuans, just the third held in the past 50 years. Several thousand people attended from all over Papua, representatives of the region's 200-plus tribes.

The first congress occurred in 1961, when the western half of New Guinea island was still in Dutch hands. The second occurred in 2001 during the brief ''Papuan Spring'', when the former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid allowed open political discussion about the future of the region.

West Papua was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 after a highly controversial vote involving 1025 delegates hand-picked by Jakarta and kept under guard by the military, supposedly satisfying a United Nations requirement that West Papuans be given an act of self-determination.

Ever since, separatist sentiment has been widespread as the Indonesian military, police and intelligence services ruthlessly cracked down on dissent, arresting, torturing and murdering West Papuan leaders and independence supporters.

Indonesia's president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono vowed last year for constructive communications with aggrieved West Papuans but has yet to act on his pledge. In the meantime, indigenous West Papuans have ramped up protest activity as graphic video evidence, revealed in The Age, emerged of Indonesian forces torturing villagers.

For the past month in West Papua, the world's biggest gold and copper mine, operated by US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, has been racked by industrial disputes.


Indonesian FSP-KEP (SPSI) Miners Extend Freeport-McMoRan Strike, One Shot Dead

ICEM In-brief

10 October 2011

On 6 October, leaders of Indonesian FSP-KEP (SPSI), the Trade Union of Chemical, Energy, and Mine Workers (CEMWU), officially extended a 30-day strike at the world's largest gold and third largest copper mine one more month - until 15 November - because of mine management's absence at a provincial forum to address issues in the dispute.

Community leaders also formed a committee and visited different locations of the vast mining complex in order to assess the number of outside workers recruited to break the strike. The committee visits were fired upon, with reports today that one protestor was shot dead.

The Grasberg mine in Papua Province, New Guinea Island, is 91% owned by US-based Freeport- McMoRan. The PT Freeport Indonesia Workers' Union of CEMWU is in dispute with its subsidiary, PT Freeport Indonesia, over unwillingness to meet the salary demands of 10,000 miners. They are seeking a 65% increase above the current US$1.50-an-hour wage rate.

A two-year labour agreement expired on 1 October. The company is offering only an 11% increase in each year of a new two-year agreement, below that recommended by Indonesian government mediation last month. Last week, government officials of West Papua Province, leaders of the province's Parliament, the Papua Peoples' Council of seven indigenous groups, a human rights committee, and the PT Freeport Indonesia Workers' Union of CEMWU waited patiently for mine managers to show up to address issues. None did.

This came a week after the ICEM intervened with Freeport-McMoRan's chairman asking him to personally step in to resolve the dispute, which threatens global copper and gold supplies. The ICEM received a response from a senior vice president of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold stating the executive had full confidence in managers of PT Freeport Indonesia.

The response stated, "The union maintains its unrealistic demands for compensation, which are grossly inconsistent with Indonesian wage levels and, substantially in excess of the wages of mining workers in other countries performing similar duties."

In the mediation last month, the union reduced its wage demands from a doubling of the US$1.50-per-hour salary to 65%. Freeport-McMoRan posted a net profit of US$1.37 billion in the second quarter of 2011 and the person ICEM and the CEMWU is trying engage to resolve the dispute, James Moffet, took in a total compensation package in 2010 of US$21.5 million.

The community forum meeting in West Papua took a decision to write PT Freeport Indonesia managers to halt the threats and intimidation of workers in attempting to get them to quit the strike. They also sent a statement to the US embassy in Jakarta encouraging a diplomatic initiative to get Moffet to resolve the bitter strike.

PT Freeport Indonesia managers have broken global labour norms by pressuring strikers to sign statements that they will quit the strike. And they have also removed the job duties of 138 shop stewards, as well as isolating union leaders from workers by posting security guards around them.

The ICEM will continue to support the PT Freeport Indonesia Workers' Union of CEMWU in the union's fight for justice, dignity, and a fair 2011-2012 wage package.


Indonesian crackdown on Papuan Congress sparks outrage

A joint statement by TAPOL (UK), the West Papua Advocacy Team (WPAT, US) and East Timor Action Network (ETAN, US)

20 October 2011

On Wednesday, a meeting of thousands of indigenous Papuans in Jayapura, West Papua, became the scene of a brutal crackdown by Indonesian security forces. Indonesian troops and police Mobile Brigades reportedly fired hundreds of shots to disperse the crowd, pistol-whipped participants and beat them with batons and rattan canes. They arrested around 300 participants. According to the Indonesian press, security forces turned violent when Papuan indigenous leaders, who had gathered to discuss their basic rights, issued a declaration of independence.

"This appalling display of excessive force has no place in a modern democracy," said Lord Avebury, Vice Chair of the UK Parliamentary Human Rights Group. Avebury called on the Indonesian government to immediately release detainees and conduct and publish a full investigation into the incident.

Two people are confirmed dead, with many more injured and five charged with treason. Among those arrested were Congress organiser Mr Selphius Bobii, and prominent indigenous leader Mr Forkorus Yaboisembut, head of the Papuan Customary Council (Dewan Adat Papua). The arrests are a provocative response to a peaceful gathering, targeting one of West Papua's most respected tribal leaders, said the US-based West Papua Advocacy Team.

The meeting is the third of its kind to take place in West Papuan history, and was reportedly attended by around 4,000-5,000 people. While the Congress attracted thousands more to the surrounding area, many were prevented from gaining entry to the event by security forces, or were too afraid to enter.

"It is bitterly ironic that when Papuans meet to discuss their basic rights, Indonesia responds by violating those rights," said Carmel Budiardjo, senior campaigner for the UK-based NGO TAPOL. "The daily discrimination and violations experienced by Papuans are bad enough, but an attack of this nature on a democratic congress is an absolute outrage," she continued.

The use of the infamous 'makar' or treason laws to deny the right to freedom of expression and assembly is an increasing problem in Papua, suppressing activists and fuelling simmering resentments among the indigenous population. On Wednesday, US Congressman Mr Eni Faleomavaega expressed concerns about the arrests, calling for the immediate release of Mr Forkorus Yaboisembut.

The US-based East Timor Action Network has also condemned the arrests. "The right to gather and speak out is a fundamental freedom, it doesn't just disappear because the government doesn't like what is being said," said John M. Miller, the network's National Coordinator. The situation in Jayapura last night was tense amidst fears of reprisals and further actions by security forces against local residents and those involved in the Congress. TAPOL, WPAT and ETAN call on the international community to urge Indonesia to show restraint, release the detainees, and commit to a peaceful resolution of the West Papua conflict.

/ Ends

Contacts:-
UK: Paul Barber, Coordinator, TAPOL, +44-20-8771-2904
US: Ed McWilliams, West Papua Advocacy Team, +1-575-648-2078
John M. Miller, East Timor Action Network, +1-917-690-4391

Background notes for editors

The Third Papuan People's Congress

The Congress, themed 'Affirming the basic rights of the indigenous Papuan people for the present and the future' was planned to last for three days. It opened in Abepura, Jayapura, on 16 October 2011 with between 4,000 and 5,000 delegates in attendance representing more than 200 tribal groups from across the territory. Over 20,000 more gathered in the vicinity of the Congress. The organisers were forced to hold the event in an open field as requests to hold it at a more suitable venue were rejected.

For the first two days the Congress proceeded peacefully, but the atmosphere was increasingly tense due to the build-up of over 2,000 members of the security forces in Jayapura. According to local sources reported by West Papua Media Info, troops encircled the conference with around 70 vehicles including Army Pansers, a water cannon, Armoured
Personnel Carriers and Barracuda armoured jeeps. On the third day at the close of the conference, Indonesian troops armed with automatic weapons, along with units of Brimob, the notorious mobile brigade of the Indonesian police, reportedly opened fire in an attempt to disperse the Congress.

History of the Papuan People's Congress

The First Papuan People's Congress was held on October 16-19 in 1961, and issued a manifesto declaring their independence. The Second Congress held in May-June 2000 issued a resolution which affirmed their sovereignty as a people and led to the establishment of the representative body, the Papuan Presidium Council (PDP). Just over a
year later, in November 2001, the PDP chairman, Theys Eluay was kidnapped by a unit of Indonesia's Kopassus Special Forces and assassinated. In a travesty of justice which characterises the problem of impunity for security forces in Indonesia, the perpetrators were sentenced to between two and three and a half years.

Elsewhere in Papua: strikes at Freeport

At the same time as the Congress was underway, thousands of Papuan workers employed by the massive Freeport copper-and-gold mine in West Papua continued their strike to demand a substantial rise in wages. The strike, which has hit production at the multibillion dollar company, which is losing millions, has been met by security force violence. Since
the late 1970s Freeport has been the largest taxpayer to the Indonesian state, while the majority of Papuans continue to live in dire poverty: the Papuan provinces remain the poorest in Indonesia.

West Papua Conflict

One of the world's longest-running conflicts, the independence struggle between the Free West Papua Organisation (Organisasi Papua Merdeka, OPM) and the Indonesian state has been raging for 48 years, since Indonesia took control of West Papua on 1 May 1963. The conflict escalated when West Papua was formally incorporated into Indonesia following the controversial Act of Free Choice in 1969.

Recent context

A period of heightened political activity in the middle of 2011, including the holding of a Papua Peace Conference in Abepura from 5-7 July and calls for dialogue with the central government, generated positive signs that tentative progress is being made towards resolving the Papuan problem, but was followed by a series a violent incidents and human rights violations. The outcomes of the Peace Conference, organised by the Jaringan Damai Papua (Papua Peace Network) led by Father Neles Tebay, provided an aspirational agenda for a peaceful Papua with a series of 'Indicators of Papua, Land of Peace.'

Note: The term West Papua covers the whole territory of West Papua, which in 2003 was divided into two provinces: Papua and West Papua.

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