Thursday, November 9, 2017

1) Armed group occupies villages in eastern Indonesia

2) Indonesia security forces in standoff with Papua separatists

3) Gunmen Lay Siege to Two Villages Near Freeport Mine in Papua
4) Armed separatists occupy villages near Freeport's Indonesia mine


1) Armed group occupies villages in eastern Indonesia

Indonesian military says separatist group in Papua province has taken villagers hostage

                                        FILE PHOTO
By Ainur Rohmah
YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia 
Police said Thursday a group of armed militants were holding hostage 1,300 residents in two villages, near the giant Grasberg copper mine in eastern Indonesia’s Papua province.
Boy Rafli Amar, the provincial police chief, told Anadolu Agency that the group, since Tuesday, had not allowed residents to leave the two villages in Tembagapura sub-district, Mimika Regency.
“They have robbed the residents. There have been reports of rape and incidents of shooting at ambulances,” he said.
Gen. Tito Karnavian, the country’s police chief, said the armed group, active since 2012, consists of 20-25 people.
"(They) carry at least five to 10 weapons," Karnavian said, according to local media outlet
The group was using miners in the villages as hostages to avoid police arrests, Karnavian said.
Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, the military chief, accused the separatist Free Papua Organization (OPM) of the hostage situation, according to local news outlet
Sebby Sambom, spokesman of the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB), the military wing of the Free Papua Organization, accepted they were not letting people leave the villages as the security forces were about to launch a counter-terror operation in the area. 
"The authorities are about to evacuate 1,300 civilians to Timika to vacate the locations that will be the target of the operation," Sambom said as quoted by local media outlet
Hundreds of security personnel have gathered in Mimika, since Monday, for a counter-terror operation against the militants. 
Papua has been home to a low-level insurgency ever since the former Dutch colony was transferred to Indonesian rule in 1963. 
Despite being rich in natural resources, the province is among the most impoverished. It has witnessed political arrests and alleged human rights abuses by security forces over the last few decades.
Late in October, a shootout with the militants in the province left a policeman dead and six others injured.

2) Indonesia security forces in standoff with Papua separatists
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS JAYAPURA, Indonesia — Nov 9, 2017, 9:05 AM ET
Indonesian police said Thursday that gunmen have occupied two villages in easternmost Papua province near a U.S.-owned gold and copper mine in a possible escalation of a separatist conflict in the region.
Papua police chief Boy Rafli Amar said about 1,300 people have been prevented from leaving the villages of Kimbeli and Banti in the past two days by a group that includes about 25 armed men.
Indonesia restricts foreign journalists from reporting in the provinces of Papua and West Papua and the police account of events is unlikely to be the complete picture.
Amar said the gunmen are an "armed criminal group," a description Indonesian police often use when referring to armed Papuan separatists.
"Their numbers are quite big, nearly 100 with some 25 armed men, while the others using traditional weapons such machetes, arrows and spears," he said.
Three days of clashes between Indonesian police and gunmen last month near the giant Grasberg mine killed one officer and wounded six others.
The mine owned by Phoenix, Arizona-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. is a source of tension in the region due to environmental damage and indigenous Papuans' resentment at profits from local resources being sent abroad.
A low-level insurgency for independence has simmered in Papua since it was transferred from Dutch to Indonesian rule in 1963.The region, which makes up the western half of the island of New Guinea, was incorporated into Indonesia in 1969 following a U.N.-sponsored ballot of tribal leaders that has since been dismissed as a sham.
Sebby Sambon, a spokesman for a Papuan separatist group known as TPN, denied villagers were being prevented from leaving. He said the separatists are freedom fighters.
Amar said police supported by the army were trying to open communication with the gunmen using the local government as an intermediary.
Security minister Wiranto said he has asked security officials to peacefully persuade the separatists to leave.
"I have communicated with the local police and military chief and as well as with other security organizations there to solve the issue well without noise," said Wiranto, who uses a single name. "That is what we want."
—This story has been corrected to show that name of village is Kimbeli instead of Kimberly.


3) Gunmen Lay Siege to Two Villages Near Freeport Mine in Papua
By : Telly Nathalia | on 3:53 PM November 09, 2017
Jakarta. A group of gunmen has been laying siege to 1,300 residents in Banti and Kimbely, two villages in Timika, Papua, near Freeport Indonesia's Grasberg mine in the past few days, police said on Thursday (09/11).
"The gunmen are not allowing residents to leave their villages. We're just trying to prevent any casualties at the moment," Papua Police spokesman Chief Comr. Suryadi Diaz told the Jakarta Globe by phone.
According to Suryadi, around 300 people trapped in the villages are traditional gold miners who are not originally from the area.
Banti and Kimbely are located near the Utikini River in Tembagapura, close to the Grasberg copper and gold mine operated by Freeport Indonesia, a subsidiary of US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan.
Suryadi said the group of around 30 gunmen, that police believe is led by Sabinus Waker, has surrounded the villages since Tuesday.
According to the police, Sabinus and his men attacked policemen and Freeport Indonesia staff in a series of shootings in October, killing one police officer

4) Armed separatists occupy villages near Freeport's Indonesia mine

A state of emergency has been declared and around 300 additional security forces have been deployed to the mining area of the eastern province after a string of shootings since Aug. 17 that killed one police officer and wounded six. 
“They want to disrupt Freeport’s operations,” said Suryadi Diaz, a spokesman for the Papua police. 
“(Freeport) is rich but they are poor, so they just want justice,” Diaz said, adding that the militants were a splinter group of the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM). 
Freeport Indonesia spokesman Riza Pratama said the company was “deeply concerned” about security and was using armored cars and helicopters to ferry workers to and from the Grasberg mine in the province’s Mimika regency. 
He said attacks had been launched along the road near the town of Tembagapura, about 10 km (6 miles) from the mine, where families of employees - including expatriates - live. 
He added that so far there had been no impact on production and shipments from Grasberg, the world’s second-biggest copper mine. 
Last year Freeport Indonesia contributed about a quarter of the parent company’s global sales of 4.23 billion pounds (1.92 million tonnes) of copper. 
Arizona-based Freeport, the world’s largest publicly listed copper producer, has been grappling with labor problems at Grasberg and a lengthy dispute with the Indonesian government over rights to the mine. 
The mine has also be dogged by major concerns over security due to a low-level conflict waged by pro-independence rebels in Papua for decades. Between 2009 and 2015, shootings within the mine project area killed 20 people and wounded 59. 
Papua and neighboring West Papua provinces make up the western half of an island north of Australia, with independent Papua New Guinea to the east. The provinces have been plagued by separatist violence since they were incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized U.N.-backed referendum in 1969. 
President Joko Widodo has sought to ease tension in the two provinces by stepping up investment, freeing political prisoners and addressing human rights concerns. 
Police spokesman Diaz said around 1,000 local residents and migrant workers who pan for gold in Mimika were being prevented by the separatists from leaving the five villages. 
Security forces had entered the occupied area on Thursday, police and military sources told Reuters, but it was not clear if they had been able to evacuate any of the residents. 
“We are trying to maximize protection for the community ... because people have been raped and some have had goods stolen,” Papua Police chief Boy Rafli Amar told Reuters. 
The water supply of Tembagapura town had also been contaminated with kerosene, Boy said, but police had not been able to ascertain if it was an act of sabotage by the same group. 

Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch said police statements on the matter “should not be taken for granted, due to decades of independent journalists’ restrictions in Papua.” 
In a video purported to come from the National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM), part of the OPM group, dated Sept. 29, a guerrilla action coordinator named as Joni Beanal reads out an open letter warning of attacks on Freeport in order “to destroy it”. 
“The main reason for the integration of Papua into Indonesia was a conspiracy by America and Indonesia in the interests of mining exploitation by Freeport MacMoran in Papuan soil,” the coordinator said in the video seen by Reuters. 
Reuters was not able to verify the authenticity of the video. Papua police spokesman Diaz dismissed the recording as “old”. Freeport spokesman Pratama declined to comment on the matter. 
Papua Military Commander Major General George Elnadus Supit said the TPN-OPM posed no significant threat and were “just wild thieves who are perhaps being used by a separatist group”. 
Concord Consulting group warned that a harsh crackdown on the militant group could backfire. 
“Militants in Mimika will be able to hide among the local population – many of whom share their rejection of Indonesian rule,” the security consultancy said in a note on Wednesday. 
Freeport contributed $20 million toward Indonesian government-provided security protecting workers and infrastructure in 2016, about one-third of its local security budget. 
The company paid $668 million to the Indonesian government last year in income taxes, royalties and export duties, making it one of the country’s single largest taxpayers. 
The Panguna copper and gold mine in neighboring Papua New Guinea was abandoned in 1989 after a campaign of sabotage by the rebel Bougainville Revolutionary Army. 
Echoing the situation in Papua, there was deep resentment among the indigenous Bougainville people about the wealth going to the Papua New Guinea central government and the mine’s then operator, Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd, a forerunner of Rio Tinto. 
Reporting by Fergus Jensen and Agustinus Beo Da Costa in JAKARTA; Additional reporting by Sam Wanda in TIMIKA; Editing by John Chalmers and Alex Richardson

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