Sunday, November 12, 2017

1) Papuan villagers near Freeport mine conflict zone are 'safe' despite unrest

2) Indonesia delivers supplies to villages after Papua rebels' threat to Freeport

1) Papuan villagers near Freeport mine conflict zone are 'safe' despite unrest
Amilia Rosa   Jewel Topsfield
Timika, Papua: A community leader from one of the villages caught up in a conflict inside Papua's giant mining area has insisted that all villagers are safe.
Authorities had claimed an "armed criminal group" was preventing villagers from entering or leaving two villages in the mining area of Tembagapura, with military chief Gatot Nurmantyo at one point even suggesting they were "holding civilians hostage".

"I would like to stress we are not being held hostage," Jonathan Kibak, a community leader from the village of Banti, told Fairfax Media. "No one in the village is being stopped from doing daily activities."
Banti and another village, Kembeli, are located in an area where the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN) are clashing with security forces in a dispute over the massive Freeport gold and copper mine.

The dispute is part of the long-running pro-independence movement in Indonesia's restive, easternmost province of Papua.

The group sees the lucrative Grasberg mine as the primary reason why Indonesia acquired Papua, after a widely discredited ballot for independence in which only a handful of the local population were allowed to vote.
The mine is majority owned by US mining giant Freeport McMoRan, Indonesia's largest taxpayer.
2) Indonesia delivers supplies to villages after Papua rebels' threat to Freeport
Reuters Staff 3 MIN READ  NOVEMBER 12, 2017 / 3:41 PM / UPDATED 4 HOURS AGO

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Authorities in Indonesia’s eastern province of Papua are delivering food and aid to villages where security forces say an armed rebel group has blocked residents’ movement, as police and military surround the area, a police official said on Sunday. 

Police say a group linked to the Free Papua Movement (OPM) is preventing about 1,000 people from leaving five villages near a giant copper mine operated by the American miner Freeport-McMoRan Inc. 
“We continue to try a persuasive approach and dialogue,” said Viktor Mackbon, police chief of the Mimika area, where the villages are located. Talks with the group would be conducted through public and religious figures in the region, he added. 
Officials delivered two truckloads of rice, instant noodles, and toiletries for the villagers.
“Their access to these goods is not yet normal, so we must provide help,” said Mackbon, adding that the rebel group had not tried to disrupt the supply effort. 
Officials on Saturday said about 200 police and military personnel had been deployed in preparation for orders to secure the area by force, if necessary. 
Reuters could not immediately reach members of the rebel group, the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPN-OPM), to seek comment. 
On Friday, the group denied occupying villages near the mine, but said it was “at war” with the police, military, and Freeport. 

A state of emergency has been declared in the area and security stepped up after a string of shootings since Aug. 17 that killed one police officer and wounded six. Papua has had a long-running, and sometimes violent, separatist movement since it was incorporated into Indonesia after a widely criticized U.N.-backed referendum in 1969. 
The incident is the first escalation of violence during the term of President Joko Widodo, who has sought to ease tension in the region by stepping up investment, freeing political prisoners and tackling human rights concerns. 
Freeport’s Grasberg mine has been dogged by security concerns for decades over the low-level conflict waged by the rebels. Between 2009 and 2015, shootings within the mine project area killed 20 people and wounded 59. 
More recently, Freeport, the world’s largest publicly listed copper producer, has been grappling with labor problems at Grasberg and a mine rights dispute with Indonesia. 
Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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