MAC/20: Mines and Communities

quot;Stop using the 'security approach' in the Freeport case!"

Published by MAC on 2006-03-17

"Stop using the 'security approach' in the Freeport case!"

Press Release, Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network - Jatam

17th March 2006

Original in Bahasa Indonesia. Translation by DTE

The protests calling for PT Freeport Indonesia to be shut down which have been snowballing since February 2006 have claimed more victims. What started as a peaceful demonstration by students and other Papuans, with roadblocks on the road between Abepura and Sentani in front of Cendrawasih University on March 16th, has ended in violence and the loss of life. The authorities prefer to use the 'security approach' and violence to face the students' demands about this mining company. The people are always confronted by the security forces rather than seeking ways to settle the problems with the company.

The protests by the Papuans and in other places are to press the government to close down PT Freeport. The Abepura protest was preceded by a series of demonstrations in other towns in Papua (Timika, Jayapura) and elsewhere (Jakarta, Semarang, Yogyakarta, Makasar, Solo.) They are demanding the closure of PT Freeport because it has been shown to be the cause of human rights violations and environmental damage and does not benefit the Papuan people. This most recent protest, blockading the road outside the university, has resulted in a number of victims. Four members of the security forces have died, dozens have been wounded and there have been 57 arrests. The police are now combing the area around the university for suspects.

The 'security approach' is always used by the government to stamp out protests against mining companies: the occupation of PT IMK's mine site in Central Kalimantan in 1999; the shooting of farmers and fisherfolk blockading PT Unocal in 2001; the peaceful protest by farmers and fisherfolk occupying the Newcrest mine site in Maluku Utara in 2004 and many other cases. The government chooses confrontation with its people in using the 'security approach' as its first option instead of considering more sophisticated options and having the courage to meet the communities' demands.

The Freeport case has, once again, shown how our country's leaders side with foreign investors. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono demonstrated this on the evening of 16th March 2006, by ordering the minister for security and the heads of the armed forces, police and intelligence services to restore peace and refusing to close PT Freeport. The government would rather confront its people and is afraid of calls for international arbitration.

JATAM is disappointed with the government's stance. The Freeport case cannot simply be settled by using the 'security approach' or by increasing the Community Development Fund, as has been done in the past. It is time the government woke up to the people's demands to close down PT Freeport. It should immediately start consulting with the Papuan people about the steps to be taken in future. If not, the government will only prolong the social conflict, environmental destruction and state losses.

JATAM urges all parties to show restraint and avoid violence. We express our condolences over the deaths that occurred outside Cendrawasih University. We also urge the government to ensure that there will be no repressive action by the security forces over demonstrations demanding the closure of PT Freeport Indonesia in future.

Media Contact : Adi Widyanto Telp. +62 21 794 1559 Mobile phone: 0815 11655 911

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