Freeport: Student solidarity for change.

[awasMIFEE note: after a month where the giant Freeport mine became a topic for national debate across Indonesia once again, focussed as always on whether or not the US company should be obliged to hand over a controlling stake to the Indonesian Government,  Papuan students have been asking why no-one ever talks about the mine’s destructive impact on Papua amidst this outpouring of Indonesian economic nationalism. On 20th March, students demonstrated in Jayapura and Timika in Papua and in cities across Indonesia where Papuan students were joined by Indonesian supporters from the solidarity network “FRI West Papua”. The text below is a statement from the organisers of the demo in Jayapura, which reportedly attracted 500 people.]

Student solidarity for change.

United Student Front to shut Freeport [FPM-TF]

Shut Freeport and all foreign companies, which are the mastermind of crimes against humanity and environmental destruction in Papua.

“Allow freedom and the right to self-determination as the democratic solution for the Papuan people” 

On Monday, 20th March 2017, a peaceful demonstration tookk place, co-ordinated by students. This action took place in several areas simultaneously, including Jayapura city, Timika, Jogjakarta, Bandung, Manado, Bogor, Palu and Jakarta. The demands of the actions were to close the Freeport mine and to allow freedom and the right to self-determination.

The following is a reflection and statement of opinion written by the United Student Front to Shut Freeport in Jayapura City.

Whether or not Freeport should divest its stake in PT Freeport Indonesia, as legislated for in Presidential Regulation no 1/2017, is now becoming a hot topic for debate within Papuan society, ranging from Governor Lukas Enembe who supports Indonesian policy to institutions which have related interests, and also the Papuan bureaucracy. However, all those who support the plan to divest 51% or an extension of the contract of work, whether they are Papuans or from elsewhere, are drawing naive conclusions.

The squabble that divides the Indonesian Governent and Freeport, whether the company should divest a 51% stake or not, whether Freeport’s legal status in Indonesia should be changed to a special mining liscence (IUPK) or remain a Contract of Work, is a polemic played out between the vested interests of capital and bureaucrats claiming to speak on behalf of the people. In particular, it does not reflect the interests of the people of Papua.

This chaotic situation has already created many victims amongst the casual workers employed by PT Freeport Indonesia. They have been dismissed without their need for a livelihood having been taken into account(ie severance pay). It is very clear that it is a principle of capitalism that workers are needed in times of capital expansion and accumulation. In times of crisis, they are not troubled to think about the fate of workers.

The same is true for the social situation of the West Papuan people. PT Freeport Indonesia is known internationally as one of the biggest mining companies in the world. But what do the Papuan people get from this? Poverty, human rights violations, genocide, colonialism, and its nature destroyed by a capitalist system that produces more and more without consideration of the laws of nature and the effects on human life.

As we already know, Freeport didn’t just show up suddenly and spontaneously in the country we know today. Moreover, their plan to manage Papua’s natural resources together with a small elite that have become owners parasitically is totally unacceptable. Western civilisation has invaded the time and space of indigenous Papuans accompanied by global imperialist interests.

The drive behind Freeport in fact started many years ago. In August 1959, Forbes Wilson, who was a director of Freeport at the time, met with the operational director of the East Borneo Company, Jan van Gruisen. In that meeting Gruisen said that he had discovered a study into the Ersberg countains (Copper Mountain) in West Irian (Papua), written by Jean Jacques Dozy in 1936.

The history of Papua is a history of manipulation by the economic and political interests of US Imperialism, which eventually pushed Indonesia to annex Papua and conspire to produce the Act of Free Choice. Two years before the Act of Free Choice took place, on 7th April 1967, Freeport, a mining company from the imperial American state, signed an investment contract with the Indonesian Government. While there were 809,337 Papuans with the right to participate in this act of self-determination, in the end they were represented by just 1025 people who were quarantined beforehand and only 175 people could give their opinion. They held a meeting to reach agreement and this provided the legitimacy behind Indonesia’s Act of Free Choice: it was undemocratic, and full of terror, intimidation and manipulation, as well as gross human rights violations. During the 32 years Papua was under the control of Soeharto’s militaristic regime, many human rights violations tool place in Papua under the auspices of various military operations. This has continued even after the reformasi period in Indonesia started in 1998.

There have been a series of new governemnts until Jokowi and Jusuf Kalla’s regime and each successive administration discusses whether to renew the Contract of Work or replace it with a special mining licence, but this has not been accompanied by a fundamental change to the system in Indonesia. Human rights violations by the Indonesian Military continue to occur, as in the case of the uncontrolled shooting of five students in Enarotali in Paniai Regency on 8th December 2014, or the [2015] sweeping operation in Utikini village. There are many more cases of crimes against humanity that take place at the hands of the Indonesia Military, an innumerable number. Put simply, amidst the chaotic polemic around Freeport, what has been happening in Papua? Just before the Freeport debate started there was a military operation in Dogiai, and just afterwards, the conflict in Intan Jaya which caused the deaths of six people and left another 600 with severe injuries.

This has already led to confusion and blindness in how people regard the social situation in Papua, which is driven by the desire for capital accumulation. This is a characteristic of capitalism. Capitalism does not take the side of oppressed groups. The democratic state is just an illusion created by corrupt officials, high-ranking officers, parliamentarians and ministers, and the capitalists who make their moves behind the scenes. What we see amidst all this complexity, all the problems facing Papua at this time, is that the Papuan people’s democratic rights are no longer recognised and there is sense of responsibility over the impacts of this.

PT Freeport, a product of US Imperialism, is the puppetmaster behind crimes against the Papuan people. The United Student Front to Shut Freeport wishes to make this statement of opinion to the Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla Regime to take action NOW to:

  1. Get out of Papua and Shut Freeport! Along with all exploitative actions of Multination Corporations from Imperialist Nations: BP Tangguh, Medco, Korindo and other companies operating in the Land of Papua.

  2. Make an audit of Freeport’s wealth and give it back, also giving severance pay to workers.

  3. Conduct an audit of mine reserves and environmental damage

  4. Withdraw all organic and non-organic military and police units from the Land of Papua

  5. Allow “the right to self-determination” as a democratic solution for the people of the Papuan nation.

  6. Track down, arrest, bring to justice and imprison the perpetratoris of human rights violations during the period of Freeport’s operations in Papua.

  7. Let the Papuan people determine the future for Freeports mine in Papua.

  8. Freeport should be obliged to rehabilitate the environmental damage caused by mine exploitation.

  9. Stop all activities in the MP3EI program throughout the land of Papua and stop building military bases.

Source: Fransiskan Papua:

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