MAC: Mines and Communities

JATAM Urges the Indonesian Government to Immediately Withdraw Military Forces and Police from Mining

Published by MAC on 2005-07-30

JATAM Urges the Indonesian Government to Immediately Withdraw Military Forces and Police from Mining Locations

Press Release by Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM)

30 July 2005

-- PT Freeport Indonesia's Monetary Scandal proves Connection Between Military Forces, Mining Companies, and Human Rights Violation --

Jakarta, Indonesia - Again, the monetary scandal involving PT Freeport Indonesia and military officers is revealed in a report entitled 'Paying for Protection'. [1] Prior to April 2003, large sums appear to have gone directly to individual military and police officers, not to the Indonesian government. Most troubling, payments totaling US$247,705 appear to have gone to General Mahidin Simbolon, a controversial figure who held a senior position in the Indonesian military command covering East Timor in 1999, where soldiers and militiamen committed crimes against humanity that included at least 1,200 murders. The scandal becomes important for it has happened beforehand. In 2001 and 2002, Freeport stated that it has paid 'Protection Fee' to Indonesian National Army amounted US$ 10,3 million.

The above fact strengthens the intimate relationship between mining corporations and military forces. In many mining locations in Indonesia, the presence of security forces either army or police has triggered violence and human right violations of local communities. Data collected by JATAM record the presence of security guards in fifteen mining locations belonging to private foreign miners. This results in the hitting, capture, intimidation and shooting, and even murder (see annex). Therefore, JATAM urges the government of Indonesia to immediately re-consider the policy of placing Military Forces and Police in mining locations.

The government posts police and military forces in mining locations as if communities were groups threatening the mining existence. The Regional Police Head's Decree No. Juklak/03/5/1973, issued on 1 April 1973 on the Guidance of Vital Industry Security from Public Sabotage to protect PT Freeport is a case in point. This contradicts companies statement that they are able to maintain mutual relationship with communities and environment around the mining locations. The four-decade mining industries presence in Indonesia is a long time experience to prove that they should've been able to build good relationship with communities without violence, but the facts speak contrarily. Should they (companies) can build good relationship with locals, security guards' presence may not be necessary anymore, otherwise for certain occasions and not permanently. Besides, in fact all mining industries have their own security guards.

Apart from triggering violence against locals, the presence of security guards results in rampant corruption among military forces and police institutions. Ministry of Defense Secretary General, General Sjafrie Sjamsudin's statement re Freeport's assistance that was likened to a cup of tea served by a host (Tempo Daily, 28 July 2005), is really a public deception since it involves a big sum of money that goes to individuals not to the government. The Freeport scandal absolutely does not conform to the government's policy setting priority on corruption eradication.

In 2003, the monetary scandal in which a big sum of money was given by Freeport to National Army has ever been revealed. Ironically, there was no significant action taken by the government. That is why, JATAM demands that the government re-consider the policy of posting military forces and police in mining locations. The government's policy to eradicate corruption and protect the human rights is in doubt if the SBY's administration does not immediately withdraw military forces and police guarding mining locations.

Media contact : Adhi Widiyanto +62 21 7941559, cell 081511655911

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