MAC: Mines and Communities

One shot dead, hundreds arrested and beaten by security at mine in Indonesia

Published by MAC on 2004-01-08

One shot dead, hundreds arrested and beaten by security at Australian-owned mine in North Maluku

The Solidarity for the Kao and Malifut Communities Press Release

Thursday, 08 January 2004

On January 07, 2004, a peaceful protest by communities members in North Maluku at the PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals ended in tragedy, as Brimob shot and killed one, and arrested hundreds and subjected them to further police brutality. 850 people from the Kao and Malifut communities were involved in a demonstration in the Toguraci protected forest where illegal mining activities have been undertaken by PT NHM, a company 90% owned by Newcrest of Australia.

The communities were met on-site by approximately 100 members of the BRIMOB, acting as security for the mining company, who shot at the protestors killing one on site, and rounding up 250 for questioning at the company security post, where they were beaten. Six remain under arrest at the North Maluku police office in Ternate.

PT Nusa Halmahera Minerals/Newcrest (Australia) has been conducting land clearing, without a permit, on the Toguraci protected forest since May, in clear violation of Indonesian Forest Law 41/1999, which bans open-cut mining in protected areas.

Therefore we, The Solidarity for the Kao and Malifut Communities, hereby :

1. Condemn the brutal action perpetrated by the BRIMOB commander, Badarudin/IPDA, with approximately 100 of his personnel. It is a gross human rights violation against Indonesian citizens;

2. Urge the Indonesian Police Chief, General Da’i Bachtiar, to immediately withdraw all security from Halmahera, North Maluku; release those unlawfully arrested; and return the body of the murdered to his family;

3. Urge the Indonesian Police Chief, General Da’i Bachtiar, to fire the BRIMOB commander, Badarudin/IPDA, North Maluku Police Chief Andi B. Sky; Kao District Chief of Police Alex Hutaubun/IPTU; and prosecute all parties involved in the violence.

4. Urge the National Human Rights Commission to immediately send an investigation team to the mining site PT. NHM/Newcrest;

5. Urge the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI), the local government, and all parties to maintain objectivity in the conflict between the community and PT NHM/Newcrest, and not divert it as an religion/ethnic issue;

6. Urge the central government to order PT. NHM/Newcrest to leave North Maluku.

Solidarity for Kao and Malifut Communities, North Maluku:
LBH Rakyat, ELSAM, TAPAL, KONTRAS, AMAN, SKEPHI, PBHI, TAPAK Ambon, Kao and Malifut Communities, and Coalition against Mining in Protected Areas (JATAM; WALHI; ICEL; WWF Indonesia; Kehati; PELANGI; Forest Watch Indonesia; Mineral Policy Institute; POKJA PSDA; Jaring Pela)

Media contacts:
Nur Hidayati - (WALHI - Friends of the Earth Indonesia) - +62-(0)812 99 72 642 /+62-21-794 1672
Siti Maimunah -(Mining Advocacy Network-JATAM) - +62-(0)815 9290370 /+62-21-791 81683
Igor O’Neill -(Mineral Policy Institute, Australia) - +62-(0)812 8612286 /+62-21-791 93363
Ikono - (from the Kao and Malifut communities) - +62-(0)816 811513

Editor’s Notes: [1] More on No Mining in Protected Forest Areas campaign here!

More on our No Mining in Protected Forest Areas campaign here!

"Expert Confirms Newcrest links with armed forces"

Saturday, 10th January 2004. ­ Media Release, MPI

Newcrest's denials have been refuted by an Australian expert as rights groups slam the company for failing to respect the land rights of Indigenous people around its Togaruci mine on Halmahera Island, Indonesia, and paying paramilitary forces to silence the locals concerns; culminating in savage beatings and the death of one protester at their Toguraci minesite on Wednesday.

Indonesia specialist Dr Damien Kingsbury, said: 'Newcrest's denial of responsibility for death and injury at the site is contradicted by the company earlier confirming that it pays soldiers and police for protection.' He said that Newcrest spokesman Peter Reeve had confirmed to him that Newcrest directly paid senior officers for protection, and these officers in turn instructed troops under their command. 'Newcrest claiming it is not involved in the killing is not correct.. If this latest violence was not at the direct and specific order of Newcrest, then it was by officers employed by Newcrest acting on Newcrest's behalf,' Dr Kingsbury said.

Dr Kingsbury has been investigating Newcrest's payment to security forces as a part of a study of Indonesian military and police business interests. For several years until December 2003, the Indonesian military received payments from Newcrest in return for acting as security on the company's Gosowong and Toguraci sites.

However, in a speech to the Brisbane Mining Club on November 28 2003, Newcrest chief executive, Tony Palmer, reported that the troops on the proposed Toguraci mine site had refused to evict over 2,000 local people who occupied the minesite in October. Palmer revealed that Newcrest were searching for a replacement force who were willing to do that job. In late November 2003, the military were replaced by a contingent of the notorious BRIMOB (paramilitary police).

BRIMOB have a history of killings at Australian-owned mines. After being asked by Perth-based company, Aurora Gold to keep local people off it's Mt Muro mine lease in Kalimantan, BRIMOB shot and killed two people and injured another five in June 2001, August 2001 and January 2002. Nathan Scholz, a journalist from the Brisbane-based newspaper, The Courier Mail, reported the assembled executives in the Brisbane Mining Club laughed when Newcrest's Tony Palmer outlined plans to use a militia to deal with the protestors at Toguraci.

Newcrest signed its lease to operate the Toguraci gold mine with the corrupt administration of Indonesia's now deposed President Suharto. As with many other contracts signed by the Suharto government, the lease gave Newcrest access to land occupied by indigenous people without due consultation and consent. Since mid-last year, local communities have been seeking negotiations with the company, asking that their traditional land rights be respected. Despite receiving several letters signed by local leaders including the heads of 38 local villages, the company has refused. Newcrest general manager of corporate affairs Peter Reeve commented to AAP on Jan 8: "We have a permit and approval to mine there, and the government supports that position, those people can negotiate with the government or their local member so we're not in negotiations with those people."

Newcrest has attempted to categorise the locals as "illegal miners' and 'bandits', but MPI site visits during a five week blockade last year confirmed that protesters were made up of community members seeking respect for their traditional rights, who had agreed upon entering the site not to use violence or damage company property.

"Newcrest would certainly be negotiating with the traditional Indigenous owners of land they seek to mine here in Australia, so why aren't they doing the same in Indonesia? Newcrest has used paramilitary forces to avoid negotiations with the local communities whose land they are operating on," stated Techa Beaumont of the Mineal Policy Institute. "Australian
mining operations abroad must be brought into line. The Australia government punishes the misconduct of Australian individuals such as paedophiles for preying on vulnerable people in neighbouring countries, and it is time we did the same and stopped companies such as Newcrest preying on the remote communities in which they operate."

The Mineral Policy Institute calls upon the Australian government to address the misconduct of Australian companies overseas by enacting the Corporate Code of Conduct Bill 2000 to ensure adherence to international environmental and human rights standards.

For further information, contact:
Dr Damien Kingsbury, Deakin University (Melbourne), on (+61) 0439-638834.
Mineral Policy Institute: Igor O'Neill (Jakarta) +62 812 8612 286 or
Techa Beaumont, (Sydney) (+61) 02 9557 9019

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