MAC: Mines and Communities

Newmont's Demand to Close Down Buyat Case is Immoral

Published by MAC on 2005-02-16

Newmont's Demand to Close Down Buyat Case is Immoral

Press Release by JATAM, 16 February 2005

"Newmont has again disrupted the legal process of the Buyat case. The government and police should ignore Newmont's propaganda."

Jakarta - Over the last three months, since the Indonesian government announced that Buyat Bay is polluted and dangerous to the health of local people, PT Newmont Minahasa Raya has attempted in many ways to "clean up its sins" in order to escape legal prosecution.
In November, Newmont submitted a pre-trial suit against the Indonesian Police investigating the pollution case. Newmont also charged 3 JATAM and WALHI activists in North Sulawesi and Sumbawa (site of PT Newmont Batu Hijau) with defamation lawsuits, and arranged a false settlement agreement with the Buyat plaintiffs' lawyers (LBH Kesehatan) without the involvement of the plaintiffs. Newmont has also spread lies to the public with a statement saying that Buyat plaintiffs agreed to withdraw the civil lawsuit against the company. This week, Newmont came back with false propaganda and misleading information. The company stated that the Minahasa mining operation has no adverse impact on the health of local villagers, water quality, and fish of Buyat Bay.

Newmont also released a statement on February 14th saying that Dr. Jane Pangemanan, who reported the company to the local police office, has signed an agreement with the company. It's regrettable that Dr Jane Pangemanan who is a known academic concerned by the Buyat case has had to succumb to Newmont after the pressure placed on her in the form of a defamation lawsuit.

Yet, public should not be impressed with Newmont's propaganda because the company's settlement with Dr Jane Pangemanan has no implications for the Buyat case and the law enforcement process. Siti Maimunah, the National Coordinator of Indonesian Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM) stated, "The public must remember that Dr. Jane Pangemanan isn't the victim of Buyat Bay pollution so her agreement with Newmont has no implications for the legal process undertaken by the Indonesian Police and the Ministry of Environment in law enforcement effort."

"The police and government should resume the legal procedure in a serious and professional manner so that people's rights and the environment will be recovered. It is important since the government and police must prove to the public that they best serve and protect the rights of the citizen instead of Newmont's interest and image," adds Siti.

She also urges the international public not to get confused by Newmont's propaganda saying that the Buyat case is closed. The police investigations following the criminal lawsuit submitted by Buyat residents in July 2004 are still ongoing, and the Indonesian government will be submitting its civil lawsuit against Newmont this month. The Indonesian government is considering US$700 million in compensation from Newmont to cover existing and potential damages, such as water pollution, ecosystem destruction, and economic decline in the local area.

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