MAC: Mines and Communities

Indonesia update

Published by MAC on 2007-12-14

Indonesia update

14th December 2007

The West Nusa Tenggara government is threatening to shut down Newmont's gold mine, if the company continues to delay divesting its shares. Meanwhile, Yani Sagaroa, a leading critical voice on the impacts of the Newmont mines, was jailed Tuesday on defamation charges against Newmont.

Indonesian provincial govt threatens to shut down Newmont gold mine

Business in Aia Today

14th December 2007

Jakarta (ANTARA News/Asia Pulse) - The West Nusatenggara (NTB) provincial administration has threatened to shut down U.S. mining company PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara's (NNT) gold mines in the region if it continues to delay the process of divesting its shares.

The deadline is December 20, 2007 for NNT to sell 10 per cent of its shares, spokesman of the regional administration Manggaukang Rabba told the newspaper Investor Daily.

NNT is required under its contract to gradually sell 51 per cent of its stake to local partners until a certain period after it start commercial operation.

The regional administration has agreed to team up with PT Bumi Resources (JSX:BUMI) to buy the 7 per cent stake worth US$282 million and the Sumbawa district administration in partnership with PT Dharma Henwa are eyeing 3 per cent at a price of US$109 million.


Press Release by JATAM - Mining Advocacy Network and ICEL - Indonesian Center for Environmental Law

8th December 2007

Yani Saragoa, director of the Indonesian environmental organization, Lembaga Olah Hidup (LOH), based in Sumbawa began a four month jail term last Tuesday. Two years ago, Yani was found guilty by a Sumbawa court on charges of threatening the reputation of PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara (NNT), a gold and copper mining company owned by the American mining company, Newmont.

At the time, another Newmont-owned mine in Indonesia, was at the centre of public scrutiny over its contamination of Buyat Bay. Yani issued a press release warning the Sumbawa people of the risks associated with Newmont's tailings waste on the environment and health of the people of Senunu Bay, where Newmont is dumping 120,000 tons of tailings each day.

Yani appealed the initial decisions of the Sumbawa Besar State Court and the West Nusa Tenggara High Court that found him guilty of defamation. On July 24th, the Supreme Court denied Yani's appeal and he was detained in Lapas Sumbawa jail last Tuesday.

In Sumbawa, LOH is one of the main organizations educating and doing advocacy around the impacts of Newmont. For some time, this organization has defended the environment and those impacted by the Newmont mine. Members and sympathizers of LOH have been harassed, intimidated, threatened and terrorized. They have also experienced physical violence while campaigning against the impacts of the Newmont mine. Two years ago, Yani decided it was best to move his family from the city to a village.

"The case against Yani Sagaroa is clearly a case of stifling freedom of expression of opinions -- a right that is constitutionally protected. The case also contradicts Act No 26/2000 on Human Rights," stated Chairil Syah, the lawyer representing Yani Sagaroa, in response to the decision.

Chairil also added that in cases like this, that decide guilt or innocence, the Judge must hold to principles of truth and justice.

According to the director of the Indonesian Center for Environmental Law (ICEL), Rino Subagyo, SLAPP Suits (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) limit the community from participating in decisions that affect them. In the case of Yani, he was only acting within his rights as a citizen.

SLAPP Suits have become a tool used by mining companies to restrict environmental activists, human rights activists, citizens and community leaders who are vocal about the problems of mining. There are several cases where SLAPP suits have been used in different parts of Indonesia against those critical of American and Australian companies. Yul Takaliwang and Rignolda Jamaludin in North Sulawesi have faced SLAPP suits like Salamudin Daeng in Sumbawa and Aleta Ba'un in East Nusa Tenggara.

"Big mining is threatening democracy in this country by using supporting government agents to silence any criticism of their activities," stated Siti Maimunah, national coordinator of JATAM.

The use of SLAPP suits is very worrisome. At a time when the government is desperate to attract more investment, the protection of citizens are being further neglected.

Media contacts: Luluk Uliyah/ JATAM, 08159480246, Rhino Subagyo/ ICEL 08129508335, Chairil Syah 081513731988


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