MAC: Mines and Communities

Newcrest in Indonesia: Human Rights investigation, villagers reoccupy their land

Published by MAC on 2004-05-25

Newcrest in Indonesia: Human Rights investigation, villagers reoccupy their land

Press Release - JATAM

25th May 2004

On Friday 21 May 2004 at 10 am, 237 local people commenced a sit-down protest on their land being mined by Newcrest in the Toguraci Protected Forest. The protestors are from the two districts (kecamatan) adjoining the mine, including nearby Eti village and the village of Dumdum Pante. They have erected tents and cooking facilities to sustain their protest for as long as necessary.

The protestors demands are for Newcrest Mining to leave their lands and rehabilitate the protected forest which the company illegally cleared. They also demand the profits from past mining be shared, along any negotiated future mining elsewhere on their lands.

Community protestors have expressed support for national NGOs' legal challenge to Newcrest's operations, and have submitted evidence of Newcrest's illegal mining in the Toguraci protected forest, which they say now resembles two large pits.

The Toguraci sit-down will continue until mine management meets them at the protest site and negotiates to meet their demands, which has reportedly not yet occurred, and the Komnas HAM investigative team visits to hear their complaints.

A team of two Komnas Ham members, Mr MM Billah and Mr Hasbalah M Saad plus support staff arrived in North Maluku on 25 May to undertake a investigation into alleged human rights abuses at the mine site.

A large number of Brimob paramilitary police have gathered to monitor the protest, so far reportedly restrained in their response apart from detaining one protestor, whom they forced to sing the National Anthem, Indonesia Raya, a common indimidatory tactic. Brimob were stunned when the detainee sang the chorus, and omitted the words tanah (meaning land ) from the chorus "tanah air", explaining that Australians have stolen his peoples land.

Activists are concered about the safety of protestors since Newcrest is still paying for Brimob as the mine security force, and concerned that charges are still pending against protestors arrested by Brimob and detained for a month in Janurary/February 2004. Local people have been calling for Brimob's removal from the mine after a hundred protestors were seriously beaten and one shot on the mine site earlier this year.


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