MAC: Mines and Communities

Environmental Destroyers Spoil Yap Thiam Hien Award 2002

Published by MAC on 2002-12-19

Environmental Destroyers Spoil Yap Thiam Hien Award 2002

Press release from: JATAM-WALHI-TATR, Jakarta, Indonesia,

December 19 2002

Thukul is a human rights defender who has disappeared and his whereabouts are still unknown to this day. On December 17, 2002, he received the Yap Thiam Hien Award, an award given to an individual who has put forth courageous efforts in the advancement and protection of human rights. The Yap Thiam Hien Award Program has been managed by the Human Rights Study Center Foundation (YAPUSHAM) for one decade.

The Yap Thiam Hien Award Program was initially welcomed enthusiastically by various circles. But in the last two years, the Yap Thiam Hien Award has been spoiled. Wiji Thukul's familly members have expressed their objections to the Yap Thiam Hien Award being funded by Rio Tinto, a mining company that has committed several human rights violations, forced evictions and environmental destruction, and caused poverty for communities.

The Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), Indonesian Forum for the Environment (WALHI) and Community Mining Advocacy Team (TATR) support statements from the Wiji Thukul family on the involvement of the Rio Tinto company, a known human rights violator, in funding the Yap Thiam Hien Award Program 2002. Rio Tinto's involvement in human rights violations is based on several facts, some of which are outlined below:

1. PT. Kelian Equatorial Mining (KEM) Mine

The results of an investigation done by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) at the PT. KEM mine (owned by Rio Tinto) in 1999 and 2000 revealed the occurrence of several human rights violations. Two teams formed by the National Human Rights Commission found the following evidence that supports the conclusion that human rights violations were committed by the company;

a. Sexual abuse and violence against women
The cases of sexual abuse and violence against women (rape) occurred between 1987-1997. The victims include sixteen women between the ages of nine and eighteen years old. Several victims experienced trauma up to ten years later, especially the victims of rape. This is in violation of Article 45 and Article 49 Line (2) and (3) Act. No. 39/1999 about Human Rights Violations and Article 25, Line (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Line 16 letter (d) on the convention for elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

b. Arrests of demonstrators in December 1992
From December 24-31, 1992, 400 people demonstrated at the PT KEM mine location at Prampus. The people demanded a resolution to the land compensation issue. Fifteen people were arrested without any legal procedures. PT KEM was accused of playing an active role in working together with the security officials. The National Human Rights Commission concluded that there was a violation to the right to justice (Article 9, Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948), and a violation to the right to expression (Article 19, Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948).

c. Death of Edward Tarung
Edward Tarung (one of fifteen participants arrested in an action) died as a result of severe stress after experiencing mental terror from police forces. This conclusion was strengthened by the testimony of others who were arrested at the time, where the Police used technical terms like Security Agitator Forces (GPK) or the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). The death violated Article 33 Line (1) and Line (2) of the Human Rights Act No. 39/1999, and violated Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948.

d. Eviction of Pangrebo; house burning, destruction of mining tools, arrests and oppression.
Other than evicting traditional miners, hundreds of houses were burned between the years of 1982 and 1991. The burning of the houses in 1982 was led by the District Military Force Commander, Yusran. Before the Long Iram Regent, the Long Iram Police Force and the Rio Tinto executives warned the residents of Pangrebo to immediately leave the location that had been claimed as the Contract of Work area of PT. Rio Tinto. This act violated the right to residence, the right to property and the right to life.

2. Freeport/ Rio Tinto Mine, West Papua. The Ajkwa River, which was once the source of life for the local community can no longer be used because it is contaminated by tailings waste. At the moment, 230,000 tons of tailings are dumped daily in the Ajkwa River. Between 1994-1995, approximately 20 to 40 people died as a result of an incident between the community and the Indonesian military near the area of the Grasberg mine.

3. Kaltim Prima Coal Mine, East Kalimantan. Kaltim Prima Coal (KPC) mine's history has been marked with the land takeovers of the community in Sangata. In 1986, plantations were taken over, in 1990 ponds were taken over, and four years later more community plantations were taken over. KPC waste has resulted in the drastic decline in the quality of the Sangata River. Deforestation at the mining location has caused severe flooding at underlying areas.

4. Lihir Gold Mine, Papua New Guinea. Since Rio Tinto's Lihir gold mine operations began in 1999, there has been conflict within the community due to the unfair distribution of profits, ethnic discrimination, environmental destruction and social tension.

5. Panguna Mine, Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea. Rio Tinto is a major sponsor of a regime that has commited war crimes towards the indigenous communities on the Bougainville Island. Rio Tinto has treated the indigenous community as slaves and as people that can be wasted while employing cruel and inhumane apartheid methods. Rio Tinto has also destroyed the Bougainville River with the dumping of billions of tons of toxic waste and has killed flora and fauna, destroyed the land, and caused the flooding of the rainforest mountain area, which has caused people of the area to fall seriously ill and/or die.

The Rio Tinto support to the Yap Thiam Hien Award Program 2002 is no more than a promotional ploy by Rio Tinto to show that it is supporting the push for human rights in Indonesia. Rio Tinto's support of the Award Program also attempts to take away attention to their previous human rights violations.

Yap Thiam Hien Award as a program that promotes human rights must not be funded by human rights violators at mining locations. JATAM, WALHI and TATR demands that the Executors of the Yap Thiam Hien Award Program no longer accept funding from parties that have violated human rights. The continuance of this will lead to the justification and the cover up of the human rights violators. The human rights violators must not be given the opportunity to wash themselves clean of responsiblity for their actions noted as human rights violations.

Respectfully yours,

Chalid Muhammad Longgena Ginting Chairil Syah
JATAM National Coordinator WALHI National Executive TATR Coordinator

Contact Information : Siti Maimunah (JATAM): 021-7941559, hp. 08128307691; Ridha Saleh (WALHI) : 08164300177; Chairil Syah (TATR) : 0811962807

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