Call to action: West Papuans blockade Freeport mine

25.02.2006

This is a call out we received, to act in solidarity with West Papuan tribal peoples and the defense of the Earth.

The Freeport mine in West Papua has been shut down by local Papuans since Tuesday. Over 400 Papuans are blockading the road to the mine and the pipelines have ben sabotaged making the local river system run clean for
the first time in 30 years!

This is in response to an attack by police on Tuesday who shot at local on Freeport land trying to remove them. One of those attacked has now died in hospital. The locals are now declaring they will keep the mine closed until Indonesia and Freeport leave West Papua. There are also reports of sabotage inside the mine itself by Papuan employees whilst Papuan students in Jakarta showed solidarity by invading the Freeport offices there and smashing the windows and the offices. 13 students have been arrested.

This is an amazing response by the Papuans. There is fear of reprisals by the army and police and fear of torture for those arrested. You can show solidarity with the Papuans by phoning Freeport/RTZ offices or phoning the police and army in Jakarta and/or Timika (the Freeport area). Show them the world is watching and demand that force not be used against the Papuans.

Freeport and RTZ contact details follow, also a press release with a statement from Benny Wenda the Chair of DeMMaK:

Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold Inc. - Give them a call:

Richard Adkerson
Mr. Adkerson is President and Chief Executive Officer of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. He also serves as Co-Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of McMoRan Exploration Co. (MMR).
1217 Burgundy St., NOLA. Ph# 504-529-7508

Lynne Cooney
Vice President, Assistant to the Chairman
333 Girod St., NOLA. Ph#504-596-6598

Dean T. Falgoust
General Counsel and Vice President, Legal and Tax
9631 Garden Oak Ln., River Ridge. Ph# 504-737-0440

Mark J. Johnson
Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Operations
1410 Rue Bayonne, Mandeville. Ph#985-727-1578

Stanley Batey
Senior Advisor, Social and Community Development
9635 Garden Oak Ln., River Ridge. Ph#504-305-4710

George D. MacDonald
Vice President, Exploration
1334 Rue Bayonne, Mandeville. Ph#985-674-1619

D. James Miller
Vice President, Environmental Affairs and Safety
9 Golf Villa Dr., NOLA. Ph#504-433-4134

Kathleen L. Quirk
Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer, Finance and Business Development
4816 St. Charles, NOLA. Ph#504-891-2194

PT Freeport Indonesia

Michael J. Arnold
Chief Administrative Officer and Executive Vice President, Planning and Management Development of PT Freeport Indonesia
61 Chateau Palmer Dr., Kenner. Ph#504-461-5878

Richard E. Coleman
Senior Vice President, Operations of PT Freeport Indonesia
1708 Pailet Ave., Harvey. Ph#504-368-9430

RIO TINTO LONDON (Part owners of Freeport mine)

Rio Tinto plc
6 St James's Square
London
UK, SW1Y 4LD
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7930 2399
Fax: +44 (0) 20 7930 3249

PRESS RELEASE: 23rd February 2006

WORLD’S BIGGEST GOLDMINE SHUT DOWN AS SOLDIERS GO ON THE RAMPAGE

‘My people urgently need the world’s help’ says Papuan tribal leader.

The Freeport Mine in West Papua – the biggest gold and copper mine in the world – is today in a state of chaos, as Indonesia soldiers reportedly use tear gas and live rounds to attack protesting tribal people. Reports from inside West Papua suggest that at least one person may have been killed.

Last month, West Papua made the news when a ‘lost valley’ containing numerous new species was discovered. This week, its people are suffering brutally – it needs to make the news again.

On Tuesday, paramilitary police used rubber bullets to disperse local people who were scavenging on the corporation’s tips for waste gold. Since their land was taken from them by Freeport, such scavenging has been their only way of making a living. A crowd of 500 people gathered to protest, and blockaded the roads to the mine, shutting down its operations.

Today the mine remains closed – but reports from inside West Papua suggest that up to 500 soldiers have moved in to disperse protesters with tear gas and live rounds.

Papuan tribal leader Benny Wenda, who now lives in exile in Britain, says that urgent action is needed now, before the situation gets worse. 'The Freeport Mining Company already has the blood of my people on its hands', says Benny. 'The company must take responsibility for all the deaths and pain it has caused since 1967, and it must withdraw from our
land.'

To interview Benny Wenda, or for further information, contact Paul Kingsnorth, Press Officer, Free West Papua Campaign. 07970 077552.
paul@paulkingsnorth.net

NOTES
· West Papua is the western half of the island of New Guinea. It is currently occupied by Indonesia, whose soldiers have been responsible for the deaths of at least 100,000 people there. The Free West Papua Campaign exists to support the Papuan peoples’ struggle for freedom.
· US company Freeport McMoran has been operating in West Papua since 1967. It has been implicated in widespread human rights and environmental abuses. Recently it admitted having paid $US20 million to Indonesian military and police officials between 1998 and 2004.

· Statement by Papuan leader Benny Wenda.
Statement by Benny Wenda, Chair of DeMMaK (The Koteka Tribal Assembly)
International Lobbyist in the UK for a Free West Papua on situation at Freeport Gold Mine, West Papua

Thursday 23 February 2006
I write with great urgency and deep concern about the situation at the Freeport Gold Mine in the Highlands of West Papua. In response to the shooting of five Papuans three days ago by Freeport security officers and Indonesian police, the local population have effectively closed down the mine by blockading access roads. In the last few hours, the Indonesian military have moved in; one protester is already reported dead.

For decades, my people have scavenged on rubbish dumps outside the Freeport mine, hoping to glean any specks of gold overlooked by the mechanical sorting process. Three days ago, five of these innocent people were shot and badly wounded as Freeport tried to clear them off the dumps. They are now in hospital in critical condition.

Outraged by the callous shootings, and determined to make a stand, local people set up road blocks around the mine. This was a spontaneous demonstration, fired by the frustration and anger of ordinary people denied even the opportunity to pick over the rubbish left behind after the illegal exploitation of their homeland. Freeport have temporarily
suspended mining operations, and around 400 people from seven different tribal groups are now manning the roadblocks. Papuans who work in the mine have gone on strike in solidarity with those protesting outside, and the
waters of the river Aikwa are flowing clean for the first time in years, now that the mine’s waste pipeline is smashed.

But this cannot last: the mine is the biggest gold mine in the world; it accounts for around a fifth of Indonesian GDP. Neither the Freeport company nor the Indonesian government are going to stand back and watch their profits shrink. Neither have a glowing record when it comes to human rights, either. The Indonesian military have already arrived at the mine and are firing gas at the protestors. One man has been shot and killed.

I am deeply concerned for the safety of my people. I feel responsible to them all, and fear that this situation could easily turn in to a bloodbath if the world does not watch very carefully. This is first and foremost an issue of human rights, and the international community has an urgent duty to protect the lives of my people.

The Freeport Mining Company already has the blood of my people on its hands. The company must take responsibility for all the deaths and pain it has caused since 1967, and it must withdraw from our land. Freeport and the Indonesian military are, between them, creating a genocide in our country. Until we have a free and independent West Papua, there is no legal basis for any corporation to exploit our land, our resources or our people.

On behalf of the people of West Papua I am calling for
- urgent international attention to the situation at the Freeport gold mine to prevent any further abuses of human rights
- public admission of responsibility for the shootings of innocent people by the Freeport Mining Company and the immediate withdrawal of the company from its illegal activities in West Papua
- the immediate withdrawal of Indonesian troops and authorities from their illegal occupation of West Papua

Benny Wenda
Oxford, UK
23rd February 2006

http://www.eco-action.org/ssp