MAC: Mines and Communities

Mining Advocacy Network (jatam): Stop The Military Intervention At Freeport

Published by MAC on 2006-03-17
Source: Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM)


Press Release

17th March 2006

Stop the Military Intervention at Freeport

The actions demanding the closure of Freeport Indonesia (FI) Ltd. since last February has taken victims. The actions, which were started peacefully by students and Papuan communities in the form of blockades on the road connecting Abepura and Sentani located in front of Cendrawasih University on March 16 2006, ended up in riots and casualties. Military interventions seem to be the government's response to community demands involving mining companies. Communities have been faced with military intimidation instead of support in solving their problems.

Communities from Papua and several other regions have urged the Government of Indonesia to close the Freeport mine. Actions in Abepura were followed by a chain of previous actions in a number of cities both in Papua including Timika and Jayapura as well as in other Indonesian cities including Jakarta, Semarang, Jogjakarta, Makassar, and Solo. The demonstrators demanded the closure of Freeport Indonesia Ltd. for violating human rights, causing environmental destruction, and not providing prosperity to Papuan communities. The last action, the blockade on the road in front of Cendrawasih University, left four military officers dead and dozens of others injured. Fifty seven suspects were arrested as police swept the university area.

Military means have always been used by the Government to curb popular protests against mining companies. Shootings of farmers occupying the PT Indo Muro Kencana's Central Kalimantan gold mine location in mid 1999 and fishermen blockading the Unocal site in 2001 are only two examples. Peaceful demonstrations by farmers and fishermen at Newcrest's North Maluku mine in 2004 also involved shootings.

Government's preferred bias towards Freeport is apparent yet again. The Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's statement on the evening of March 16, 2006 ordering the Coordinating Minister of Politics and Security (polkam), the Armed Forces Commander, the Chief of Police, and the Chief of the National Intelligence Body to resume securing the Freeport area is additional evidence.

The Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) expresses its disappointment with the way that the Government continues to handle the Freeport case. Militarization is not the answer to the community's problems. Pockets of money in the form of community development funds is also not the answer. It is time for the Government to listen to the people. Right now it means shutting down the Freeport operations and proceeding with genuine community consultation on what to do next regarding Freeport. By not doing this, the Government will only be prolonging the social conflict and adding to the environmental destruction, which will cause great losses to the country.

JATAM calls for all parties involved to stay calm and avoid all forms of violence. JATAM expresses its deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the demonstrations at Cendrawasih University. JATAM urges the Government not to resort to repressive measures in handling future demonstrations demanding the closure of Freeport.


Media Contacts:
Adi Widyanto, Tel: 794 1559, Cell: 0815 11655 911

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