Papuans Proceed with Lawsuits vs. Freeport-McMoran
At an October 7 press conference in Jakarta, Titus Natkime, a lawyer representing the Amungme people announced the initiation of their lawsuit against the U.S.-based goldmine firm Freeport-McMoran. According to Natkime, the Amungme tribe is suing PT Freeport Indonesia for USD 30 billion, claiming environmental destruction and violation of land rights (USD 20 billion) and violation of human rights (USD 10 billion). Natkime claimed that Freeport operations have damaged the environment and that the Amungme people have been subject to discrimination, including physical abuse by Freeport security personnel. The launch of the suit follows what Natkime described as the failure of Freeport to engage in mediation talks mandated by earlier Indonesian court action.
In addition the lawsuit, on 15 September the tribe submitted a letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) calling on the SEC to suspend trading of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. shares until the judicial process is finalized.
Indonesia Friends of the Earth, which sponsored the October 7 press conference, noted that Freeport mines up to 10 million tons annually, and has dumped around 2.5 billion tons of toxic tailing in the region. The tailings have completely inundated the Ajkwa river system. Tailings have even extended to the shores of the Arafura sea where tidal action is now inundating and killing shore vegetation.
In the late 1990's an Amungme lawsuit against Freeport was scuttled in part because Indonesian authorities, with the knowledge of the U.S. Government, prevented the U.S. citizen lawyer from travelling into Indonesia to meet with his Amungme clients according to a former U.S. diplomat who worked at the Embassy.