MAC: Mines and Communities

BP's Human Rights Commitment and Practices in West Papua Slammed in World-wide Protest

Published by MAC on 2004-12-08

BP's Human Rights Commitment and Practices in West Papua Slammed in World-wide Protest

Tapol, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign

December 8th, 2004

"Unless BP implements a human rights policy in West Papua, embraces transparency and uses its influence in Jakarta positively, then the Tangguh natural gas project should not go ahead."

Today, Wednesday December 8th 2004, a coalition of NGOs and individuals from West Papua, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, the US and the UK has written to Lord Browne of Madingley, Chief Executive of BP plc, and also to US Senator George Mitchell, who chairs BP's Tangguh Independent Advisory Panel (TIAP).

The signatories to the letter, including over 300 individuals and organisations from within West Papua, especially from the area of the Tangguh Project itself, express their deep concerns over: the failure by the company to establish rigorous and credible human rights monitoring and reporting processes more than two years after such commitments were made; inadequate transparency in dealing with Indonesian authorities, and a complete failure to acknowledge the wider West Papuan political context of continuing repression in which the Tangguh Project will operate.

This letter follows long-term field monitoring, extensive contact, discussions and correspondence with both BP and the TIAP. It reflects frustration and disappointment that such engagement has not yet produced substantive results in these critical areas.

John O'Reilly, formerly Senior Vice President, BP Indonesia, 1999-2003, said: "If the Tangguh Project is to achieve its ambitions in setting world-class standards, then active and robust human rights policies in West Papua are essential if BP is not to repeat its bad experiences in Colombia. The delay in implementing such key policies is disquieting".

According to Bustar Matiar, director of the Perdu Foundation in Manokwari, West Papua, which has monitored BP's dealings with the local community since the 1990s, "BP claims to have human rights policies but they are constantly violating the rights of the local indigenous people."

In a statement released in August by the people of Soway, Wayuri & Simuna, the landowners of the site where the Tangguh natural gas project is being developed, which was sent to the Indonesian President and BP, it was made clear that ".the land on which the Tangguh project is situated remains the property of the Soway clan. We request a review of the status of this land."

"So far, the presence of the Tangguh project has only caused conflict between communities, and the social disadvantages have outweighed any advantages. We ask that all project activities on our customary lands be stopped as from the date of this statement until the problems have been fully addressed."

John Rumbiak, a leading West Papua human rights advocate and Coordinator of International Advocacy for West Papua human rights group, ELSHAM, commented:

"The presence of BP must be seen in the wider political context of West Papua. BP knows recent political developments have made West Papua a time bomb. But George Mitchell of TIAP and BP itself are ignoring the reality of the wider political context and not using their influence positively with the Jakarta government to improve the situation."

The letter says that the signatories are neither supporters nor opponents of the Tangguh project: this is a matter for decision by the local communities and the wider West Papuan society. However, the signatories assert that BP should not approve the Project until substantive progress is made on mandatory human rights commitments, on transparency and also on the requirement for the company to carefully re-examine its legitimate sphere of influence in West Papua.


The Tangguh Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Project is located in the Berau-Bintuni Bay region of Teluk Bintuni Regency in West Papua, Indonesia's easternmost territory. The project is operated by BP Indonesia, which holds a 37.16% stake in the project. The Tangguh gas fields contain 14.4 tcf of certified proved natural gas reserves. The Tangguh Project has recently won sales orders to China, Korea and the US, and markets are also being sought in Japan. The Project is awaiting formal approval from BP and its partners. Production is currently scheduled to begin in 2008.

Ever since West Papua's annexation by Indonesia in the 1960s through a fraudulent 'consultation' process, the West Papuan people have been subjected to systematic political and military repression. The removal of Suharto in 1998 led to hopes that dialogue and democratic processes would be established in West Papua and a Special Autonomy Law was enacted in 2001. However, the Law has not been implemented and has done nothing to halt continued repression in the territory by the Indonesian military.

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