MAC: Mines and Communities

Thirty nine years of Freeport-Rio Tinto is enough

Published by MAC on 2006-02-27

Thirty nine years of Freeport-Rio Tinto is enough

by United Front for the Struggle of West Papuan People - National Office, Indonesia

27th February 2006

The history of Freeport in West Papua is a dark history of political manipulation, of the false and unjust Act of Free Choice, the theft of Papua's natural resources, destruction of traditional culture, breaches of human rights, environmental destruction and the killing of democratic values - the very definition of colonialism.

Currently it is the US and the EU which dominate social and political relations with the market model otherwise known as neo-liberalism. Because of this, as a multinational corporation (MNC) Freeport has brought with it political, economic and human rights disaster for the Papuan people.

Since 1962, via the New York Agreement, it is clear that the economic and political interests of the West were behind the incorporation of West Papua into Indonesia, with the guarantee that Papua's natural resources - rich in fisheries, forestry, minerals and gas - would be exploited.

Since 1967 PT Freeport Indonesia has been mining at Tembagapura, and for 39 years has been ransacking the rights of Papuans. Since 1977 violations of human rights have been systematically and consciously carried out by the Indonesian military and police with the support of PT Freeport Indonesia. To assist in this process, the Government of Indonesia instituted the DOM - Zone of Military Operations in Papua from 1978 to 1998. While the DOM was officially removed in 1988, reality tells otherwise: troops have increased, new extra-territorial organisations have been opened, and human rights violations have occurred at Abepura, Wasior and Wamena including the case of the assassination of Papuan Independence figure, Theys Hiyo Eluay in 2001 and the case of the Waghete-Paniai murders. These stand as proof that the repressive nature of the military and police has not receded but increased in intensity.

Freeport - Rio Tinto Joint Venture is a company whose name is synonymous with many human rights and environmental violations. Environmental violations have caused the loss of livelihoods of local people through the theft of their lands and pollution. This is what drives local people to scratch through Freeport's waste looking for traces of discarded gold. Even then, they must reckon with Freeport security and state law enforcement apparatus. Freeport is proven to be paying the military and police in order to secure their operations. Freeport's official reports are proof of the millions of dollars paid to the top echelons of both forces.

The conflict between residents, police and company security which took place in Mimika regency on Tuesday 21 Feb 2006 began when security forces including police attempted to evict hundreds of local people which have for the past year been panning for gold in the tailings deposits at Mile 72/74. This eviction caused a conflict which escalated into serious violence between local people, police and Freeport security. Three local people were shot by security forces and taken to the Tembagapura hospital. A police officer and a company security officer were also injured.

Hundreds of local people from surrounding villages blockaded the road at Ridge Camp and halted production at the Freeport - Rio Tinto Joint Venture. Their demands include a direct negotiation with James Moffet, Chairman of the (US) Board of Directors.

Front PEPERA-PB perceives this sequence of events as a consequence of an accumulation of the neglect of the Indonesian State and failure to respond to the voices of Papuans and their demands for mine closure to be followed by an audit and thorough investigation of all human rights abuses, corruption and environmental crimes which have been performed by Freeport - Rio Tinto. We also believe that statements made by the Indonesian State in regards to the situation in Papua have actually worsened the social, political and security situation in Papuan lands.

Therefore, we the Front PEPERA-PB demand:

Immediate closure of the Freeport - Rio Tinto mine followed by an audit and thorough investigation;

Recall all non-organic military and police from Papua;

A Strong denunciation of Vice President Yusuf Kalla's statement calling for an increase in troops to secure the Freeport - Rio Tinto concession area;

Unconditional release of the Papuans detained in connection with the Timika Mile 62-63 case and the demonstration at Freeport's Jakarta offices.

Beginning in March 2006 Front PEPERA-PB will garner solidarity for a General Strike throughout Papua and for people to approach all levels of government including the Governor and Mayor's office. We also call on all Papuan people not to be goaded by the provocation of the Indonesian State security apparatus. The Papuan community must stick together and resolve all issues through a National Dialogue undertaken democratically, honestly and justly, from grassroots through to the National Papuan level.Contact: Arkilaus Baho (+62815 7874 0611) and Marthen Goo (+62813-80207584).

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