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New report details numerous violations by PT Freeport Indonesia in West Papua

17 December, 2020

Indigenous tribes such as the Kamoro and the Amungme have been claiming their communities have been afflicted with poverty, violence and mostly environmental degradation since the Grasberg mine operated by PT Freeport Indonesia began its activities 48 years ago. Turning the spotlight again on this critical issue, the ICP, together with the Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the Initiative Action for Ecology and Peoples' Emancipation (AEER), the Center for Study, Documentation and Advocacy on Peoples' Rights (PUSAKA), Friends of the Earth Papua (WALHI Papua), the Lokataru Law and Human Rights Office, INTERPRT, TAPOL, VIVAT International, Westpapua-Netzwerk (WPN), Geneva for Human Rights (GHR), and Franciscans International (FI) has launched today a new special report called "PT Freeport Indonesia and its tail of violations in Papua: human, labour and environmental rights". The 27-page publication covers detailed aspects of different human rights violations involving the Freeport-McMoRan's Indonesian subsidiary, PT Freeport Indonesia, during the last years.

PT FI operates the Grasberg mine, the world's largest known gold deposit and second-largest copper reserve. It is located in the Mimika Regency in Papua Province, at an altitude of 4.270 metres in the highlands of the Sudirman Mountain Range. Over the past few years, the company has been criticised for fuelling armed conflicts in the Mimika Regency, resulting in large-scale environmental degradation and multiple human rights violations. This report provides a detailed overview of these violations.

In February 2017, the company initiated mass lay-offs without any negotiation with the workers' union, to which the company's workers responded by going on strike. The mining company then crushed the strike through both non-violent and violent interventions, resulting in multiple violations of labour rights and civil rights. In early September 2020, the Timika Branch Office for Chemistry and Mining of the SPKEP SPSI published a press release, according to which 72 former PT FI labourers and their close relatives passed away between 2017 and 2020 after the company conducted the mass lay-offs.

On the environmental front, PT Freeport Indonesia, is responsible for the large-scale destruction of marine and forest areas. This is having a severe impact on the livelihood of indigenous Kamoro and Amungme communities. They are the legitimate owners of the customary land. The report provides a comprehensive analysis of the environmental degradation with the use of satellite images.

The consequences of the armed conflict surrounding Freeport are also of great concern. The conflict has led to the internal displacement of indigenous people living in the vicinity of Freeport's Grasberg mine. Observers stated that at least 2,114 indigenous Amungme people fled to the town of Tembagapura in March 2020. The current COVID-19 pandemic worsens this situation. The increasing number of infections in West Papua also put the spotlight on PT FI's mining operation in 2020. In May, the regency of Mimika with its capital Timika and the Grasberg mine became the most affected areas.