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Unrest in Indonesia’s Mines: Local Chaos, Global Injustice

1) Unrest in Indonesia's Mines: Local Chaos and Global Injustice
2) KNPB denies that violence occurred during its demonstrations
3) Buchtar Tabuni will be held responsible for demos calling for a referendum
4) Kimanus Wenda's tumour operation

WEDNESDAY APR 4, 2012 1:00 PM
1) Unrest in Indonesia's Mines: Local Chaos and Global Injustice

Buried in Indonesia's rich soil is a minefield of brutality, literally. Last year, the Grasberg mine of the Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold, one of the largest such operations in the world, shut down after thousands of workers launched a strike to demand higher wages. Work recently resumed, but the suffering continues while officials and multinationals maneuver to manage Southeast Asia's resource curse.

In the midst of the massive strike, the company cited 'sabotage and security concerns' and the blockade of a critical pipeline, and there were reports of internal conflicts among employees. But the worst impact of the chaos fell on the workers who were mysteriously gunned down. The exact source of the attacks is unclear, but they could be tied into a long-running struggle for control over local mineral assets between the police and military.

Mine workers weren't the only ones being targeted. While strikers and police clashed in October, leading to the deaths of two unionists, indigenous activists in Jayapura, West Papua, were reportedly struck with batons and bullets at a pro-independence rally.

The unrest surrounding Grasberg exposed both the vulnerability of organized labor and the brute power of the industry. From its Phoenix headquarters, Freeport's global empire stretches across various political hotspots: Indonesia, Peru, and Democratic Republic of Congo.

To safeguard its Indonesian assets, according to John McBeth at Asia Times, the company has erected its own massive security complex:
the police assumed responsibility for internal security at the Freeport mine, a controversial arrangement under which the company last year paid the paramilitary Police Mobil Brigade $14 million in security-related allowances, food and other in-kind necessities. … The company also spent $28 million last year on its own unarmed security force, up from $22 million in 2009.
A few weeks ago, Grasberg went back to work following wage concessions to the workers. But the trauma continues to resonate; after an estimated fifteen shooting deaths and dozens of others wounded since mid-2009, the culprit remains buried in Indonesia's political quagmire.

In the wake of the strike, the Indonesian government has moved to limit foreign investment in mines to 49 percent. Yet, though the measure may smack of "resource nationalism'--an idea that's been floated in some mineral-rich "developing" nations like Venezuela--it won't necesarily bring any economic justice for workers.

Regardless of foreign investment, Indonesia's government isn't about to relinquish its brutal grip on civil society, nor will the resistance die down. Dick Blin of the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM) told In These Times that the Freeport uprising, together with the local ethnic conflicts, reflected cycles of conflict in the region.

There always has been an indigenous movement here to stop all mining, and the strike gave this movement new momentum. Clear and simple, the union won this strike because all the stars lined up correctly to allow it to do so.
Though this labor dispute may be resolved for now, in the long run, structural inequalities and violence will remain embedded in mining. From tragic and sadly preventable disaster at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch mine in Virginia, to epidemic fatalities in Chinese coal mines, this is a global pattern. Workers' bodies are as cheap as the resources are precious, and adequate safety regulations or living wages don't fit the cost-benefit analysis.

The prioritization of minerals over people can also happen in Global South countries that assert populist nationalism through control over their mining sectors. Rising tensions in South American indigenous communities over the rush for lithium mining show that the basic capitalist impulse to exploit prevails, with or without foreign help.

Back in Indonesia, another recent labor conflict highlights the structure of corporate-state oppression. Government forces reportedly cracked down on labor activists following a standoff involving a major coal producer, KPC, and its Australian partner Thiess. 'When strikers came to the company's offices then on 24 March,' ICEM reported, 'they were met by police and the mobile brigade wielding batons and other instruments of force.' Brutal beatings and detentions of unionists followed.

Though violence against mine workers seems to come from all directions, the terrors that fill the world's mines are all driven by the same business model: a partnership between the industry that plunders local communities, and the regime that keeps people from fighting back.

from Tapol

2) KNPB denies that violence occurred during its demonstrations
Bintang Papua, 1 April, 2012

The KNPB - National Committee for West Papua - has denied allegations that violence occurred during demonstrations which it organised recently. In response to the decision by journalists to boycott activities organised by the KNPB which was recently announced, Mako Tabuni, the chairman of the national committee of the KNPB said at a press conference that the majority of journalists who operate in Jayapura are well known to the KNPB, and when people threw things at journalists, this occurred because the supporters of the KNPB were unable to recognise who were genuine journalists and who were not journalists but were members of the security forces in civilian dress who were posing as journalists.

'We deny allegations that every time we organise demonstration, violence occurs. The truth is that when things are thrown and people are chased as happened on 20 March, these were members of the security forces wearing civilian clothing who were posing as journalists.'

Tabuni said that the KNPB would undertake to clarify any of the incidents that occurred during the demonstration which took place on 20 March.. 'Ever since the KNPB has undertaken to promote the aspirations of the Papuan people, nothing has been done to harm national or local journalists, although some misunderstandings did occur.. Our activists and militants always do everything they can to protect journalists in all our activities, and we deeply regret what happened during our demonstration on 20 March.'

He referred to demonstrations which the KNPB organised on 2 May and 2 August 2011 when there were allegations that violence occurred and that someone at demonstration had stabbed a student.He denied that this had happened. He said that they had immediately gone to the police in Jayapura to ask about this allegation , but were referred to the police in Abepura. However none of them had produced any proof that such incident had occurred,.They also went to the hospital in Abepura to ask whether anyone who had been stabbed was being treated there, but there was no one being treated.

He said that it was very regrettable that such a report had appeared in the media who should be independent and neutral, and should not report something without having proof that it happened.

He also said it was very unfortunate that reports in the media about the demonstrations organised by the KNPB on 20 March had been greatly exaggerated

Meanwhile it has been announced that the KNPB will organise a Cultural Festival on 2 April on Taman Imbi, Jayapura.
3) Buchtar Tabuni will be held responsible for demos calling for a referendum

Bintang Papua, 2 April 2012

Jayapura: Instead of holding one demonstration as had been planned by the the KNPB (National Committee for West Papua), they held two demonstrations in two different places. One took place in Taman Imbi while the other took place in Abepura. The deputy police chief, Brig.General Waterpauw said that they would hold Buchtar Tabuni responsible for these demonstrations. 'The police will hold Buchtar Tabuni responsible for this because he was the co-ordinator of the demonstration held by the KNPB which proceeded in violation of the agreement that they would only hold one demonstration in one place, in Taman Imbi,' said Waterpauw.

He said that thousands of KNPB supporters had taken part in the demos in two places. In addition, he said, they were carrying a variety of weapons such as arrows, knives and spears, which had spread fear among the people.

Asked whether he intended to summon Tabuni, he said this was not yet clear but the matter would be attended to as quickly as possible.

The demos caused traffic jams as many main roads in the town centre were closed off.

Thousands of supporters of the KNPB held a demonstration in front of the post office in Abepura as well as near the traffic lights by the Abepura police office on Monday, 2 April. The demonstrators called for a referendum and urged the Indonesian government to recognise the Federal State of West Papua. The demonstrators also welcomed the establishment of International Parliamentarians for West Papua by Benny Wenda, a Papua who has been living for a long time in The Netherlands. The IPWP will be formally set up in a parliament to support the Papuan struggle and for West Papua to secede from the Indonesian Republic.

[The report then goes into great detail about how the demonstrations proceeded in different parts of the city.]

Speaking to the crowds, Buchtar Tabuni said: 'This demonstration is an action to express the KNPB's support for the establishment of the IPWP in The Netherlands.' He apologised to shopkeepers who had closed their shops along the roads where the demonstrations took place.

The chairman of the KNPB also explained that they were wearing traditional dress and carrying traditional weapons to show to other people (ie non-Papuans) that we have our own identity.

'Today, the West Papuan people will determine their own future which is why the KNPB has held a peaceful demonstrations with our own cultural attributes and in support of the establishment of the IPWP.' He went on to say that the Regional People's Parliament had set up commissions and said that the most effective weapon of all was the strength of the West Papuan people to confront the colonial power, the state of Indonesia.

'The Papuan people have set up their own political institutions and have asked the government of the Netherlands to place the issue onto the agenda of the United Nations.

He said that West Papua will get its freedom and this must be recognised by the international community so that we, the Papuan people, can determine our own future on the basis of one principle: it is better for us to be struck down in defending the people of West Papua than being struck down at the hands of Indonesia, the colonial power.

He said that West Papua had been incorporated into the Republic of Indonesia in a process that violated international standards, in conflict with the principles of the rule of law and international human rights. The countries responsible for this were the USA, The Netherlands and Indonesia as well as the United Nations, in pursuance of their own economic and political interests.

'This is why were firmly declare that the West Papuan people will devote all their energies to holding a referendum , to establish political institutions that conform with the wishes of the people of West Papua and we call on the Dutch government to speedily take the issue back to the United Nations.'

[The report then gave the names of 21 local Papuan organisations (PRD) the chair-persons of which had signed the statement issued by Buchtar Tabuni and said that all the leaders of the KNPB took part in demonstration.]

Meanwhile units of the police and Brimob in armoured vehicles and armed with a variety of weapons stood on guard in various points places near the DPRP office and in Taman Imbi.

Many people left their offices for home earlier than usual and discussions were taking place between members members of the DPRP.

Hundreds of people had blocked the roads causing big traffic jams .

[Abridged translation by TAPOL of a very long article that appeared in Bintang Papua.]

From Tapol
4) Kimanus Wenda's tumour operation
22 March 2012

[Translated by TAPOL]

KIMANUS WENDA, a prisoner usually detained in Nabire prison had an
operation to remove a tumour from his stomach at Dian Harapan
Hospital, Waena Jayapura on 14 March 2012. Wenda is detained for
treason and is serving a 20 year prison sentence.

According to Peneas Lokbere from United for Truth (Bersatu Untuk
Kebenaran), an organisation which provides support for political
prisoners in Papua, the operation began at 10:00 and lasted for two
hours. 'After the operation he was transferred to the inpatient ward.
The procedure went well without any obstacles,' said Lokbere. A growth
and a hernia were operated on, and he was given six stitches.

Wenda was hospitalised until Saturday 17 March 2012. On Satuday, Dr
Trajanus Lauretius said that Kimanus could go 'home' to the jail in
Abepura, but that every Tuesday he needs a check-up at the Dian
Harapan Hospital.

Lokbere took Wenda to Abepura jail on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday
Lokbere came back to bring his medication. According to Lokbere,
Kimanus Wenda said that two staff from the jail came into his cell.
All his belongings 'including his clothes and medicines 'were turned
upside down with no clear reason. He was offended by being treated in
such an impolite manner while he was just recovering from an

Kimanus Wenda is actually listed as a prisoner at Nabire jail. However
he cannot return to Nabire at present because he needs to recover
properly first and have the stitches removed from his stomach.

According to the Asian Human Rights Commission, Kimanus Wenda started
to complain of feeling ill in 2010, and was vomiting frequently. The
doctor at Nabire prison examined him and said that he needed to be
examined in Jayapura. However, the Ministry for Justice and Human
Rights said that they could not pay for an operation in Jayapura. They
claimed they didn't have the money to cover the costs of the

An official of Nabire jail disagreed that Wenda was ill. The proof?
Kimanus Wenda could still play volleyball in the prison field in
Nabire. His obstructive behaviour prompted Peneas Lokbere to gather
funds for Wenda's operation. Various non-governmental organisations
have contributed to the cost of the journey, transfer between the
Nabire and Abepura prisons, and the medication for Kimanus Wenda.

According to the Facebook page of TAPOL, an organisation which
provides support for political prisoners, their internet fundraising
campaign using the website raised £2,000, [which included
£1,040 in direct donations and an anonymous private donation of £1,000
'TAPOL]. They channelled the funds through Peneas Lokbere and friends
in Jayapura.

At present, Lokbere is monitoring Kimanus Wenda's recovery in Abepura
prison. Once he recovers and the stitches are out, Wenda will return
to Nabire prison. According to Indonesian law, the Indonesian
government is responsible for providing prisoners with healthcare.
However, the problem of budgets is often used by the Ministry for
Justice and Human Rights as an excuse for not complying with this

Ironically, the Indonesian government has also banned the
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from working in Papua
since March 2009, despite the fact that ICRC often helps the families
of prisoners to visit the detainees. The ICRC also usually gives
support for medication for prisoners, no matter who they are.

Peneas Lokbere and TAPOL are now collecting funds for an operation for
Jefrai Murib who is currently in Biak prison. Jefrai Murib is
suspected of having suffered a stroke on 19 December 2011. The left
side of his body and his left arm and leg have lost all sensation.
Murib has been examined at the Biak General Hospital, where the
doctor's diagnosis was that he needs to be examined at the General
Hospital in Jayapura.

Posted by Andreas Harsono at 10:37 AM on 22 March 2012

Translated by TAPOL


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