Action Alert: Indonesian academic and mining activist threatened with detentionPublished by MAC on 2005-07-25
INTELLECTUAL OPPRESSION ALERT
To be completed by 25 July 2005
Indonesian academic and mining activist threatened with detention
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In Support of Dr. Rignolda Djamaluddin
Since Buyat Bay, Indonesia became a place known for pollution and strange illnesses linked to the world's largest gold mining company, Newmont, the company has tried various tactics to silence criticisms of their now closed operations that dumped 2000 tons of tailings waste into Buyat Bay every day from 1996 to 2004. Newmont has poured money into the local university UNSRAT to pay for research but Dr. Rignolda Djamaluddin is one professor/researcher not on Newmont's research dole. Rignolda has been one of the most vocal critics of Newmont and its impact on Buyat Bay's people and environment. Today, Rignolda is facing jail time, charged with defamation by Newmont. It is a charge that Newmont has used more than once in Indonesia to silence criticisms of their operations.
For more info, visit: http://www.jatam.org/english/campaigns/campaigns.asp
Please send appeal before July 25 to the State Court of Manado (cc'd to the Indonesian Supreme Court and other parties mentioned below) requesting postponement of the decision in the defamation suit against Dr. Rignolda Djamaluddin until he has been given the opportunity to testify, and replacement of the current panel of judges in the case to ensure a fair trial for the defendant.
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Thank you for supporting justice, freedom of expression and intellectual freedoms in Indonesia.
Please send appeals to:
Julianna Wullur, S.H. Chief of Manado State Court Phone/fax: (+62 431) 862591
CC: Gunanto, S.H. Indonesian Supreme Court (Chief of Monitoring Div.) Phone/fax : (+62 21) 3843348, 3843459
Dear Julianna Wullur,
I have been following the civil lawsuit brought against Dr. Rignolda Djamaluddin by Newmont Minahasa Raya, a branch of Newmont Mining Corporation. I am aware that the basis of Newmont's lawsuit was media citations from a seminar on Buyat Bay pollution that was chaired by Dr. Rignolda Djamaluddin.
Intellectual freedoms are being stifled with this lawsuit that seeks to threaten researchers who present research results that are critical in terms of pollution and occurrence of strange disease in Buyat Bay. As the world's largest gold mining company that purports to be committed to 'Corporate Social Responsibility' principles, Newmont should respect divergent opinions and criticisms of their operations. According to the Government of Indonesia's research, Newmont is responsible for polluting Buyat Bay, which has led the government to file a criminal lawsuit against the company and one of its executives.
I am very concerned that the main focus of the lawsuit has been altered from looking at remarks made in the media to disputing whether Buyat Bay people are suffering from Minamata Disease. The seminar on Buyat Bay pollution chaired by the Dr. Rignolda Djamaluddin concluded with remarks that the Buyat Bay people suffer symptoms similar to Minamata Disease. Such a statement does not merit a defamation suit since it is based on sound academic research into the comparisons of the symptoms in Buyat Bay with the symptoms suffered by Minamata victims. Furthermore, the seminar did not conclude with statements that the Buyat people were suffering from Minamata Disease but rather that symptoms were similar. This lawsuit threatens to stifle intellectual freedoms and thereby threatens access to factual information needed for the formation of sound public policies.
I worry that Newmont is using the defamation suit against Dr. Rignolda Djamaluddin to further its defense in pollution charges brought forth by the Government of Indonesia.
Finally, I am deeply concerned by the unfair nature of this trial given that Dr. Rignolda Djamaluddin has been denied the opportunity to testify, which thereby affects his defense. It is clear that the Panel of Judges has violated the rights of the defendant to defend himself.
Based on the above-mentioned concerns, I respectfully urge the State Court of Manado and the Indonesian Supreme Court to:
1. Cancel the next trial scheduled for July 25th when a verdict is expected. The verdict cannot be made without the defendant testifying in his defense.
2. Replace the current panel of judges presiding over the civil suit between Newmont Minahasa Raya and Dr. Rignolda Djamaluddin.
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