Amungme-Kamoro Defend Freeport Continuing Operations

04 January 2016

Tribal Communities Support on PT Freeport Indonesia Continuing Operation

TIMIKA. Amungme-Kamoro customary leaders and traditional landowners have stated their position to strive for PT Freeport Indonesia’s continued operations beyond 2021, subject to the company’s increasing its contributions and resolving issues from the past.  

PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) president director Maroef Sjamsoeddin gave his assurance that customary communities who are traditional landowners and the government in Papua would be engaged in talks on contract of work extension.

“Freeport is a national asset situated in Papua that is funded by a foreign investor, in this case, Freeport McMoRan,” he said in a press conference together with Amungme-Kamoro customary community leaders and traditional landowners, at Rimba Papua Hotel, on Saturday (26/12).

Maroef said PT Freeport remains committed to steadily increasing contributions to the communities near its operating area, in addition to providing benefits for the nation and state. “Freeport happens to operate in Papua, and therefore it must not disregard the presence and role of the communities in the area in which it operates,” he said. 

Lemasa General Tribal Chief Yunus Omabak, an Amungme leader, fully supports PT Freeport continuing its gold, copper and silver mining operations in Mount Nemangkawi. But the US-based mining company must resolve various issues with traditional landowners. “Freeport must continue because there are many things it must do and improve for the customary communities in its operating area. It must repair the many damages it has incurred,” Omabak said. 

He said Freeport has made a contribution through the one percent fund for development of communities directly impacted by PT Freeport mining operations. Although it is yet to fully provide for the well-being of the communities, Freeport must remain and increase its contribution in the future.  “In its 48 years in Timika, Freeport has provided the 1 percent fund managed by LPMAK. An opportunity is now presented to us with Freeport being led by a (retired) general with a high sense of nationalism and who will surely stand by the communities and the Indonesian nation,” he said. 

Meanwhile Lemasko caretaker chairman, Marianus Maknaipeku called on the nation’s political elite to immediately cease their politicization of Freeport’s status. The fact is that the central government and politicians are not fully informed about Papua, and primarily PT Freeport. “Imagine, in 2011 there was a strike that completely put a stop to Freeport operations. Timika’s economy was instantly paralyzed,” Marianus said.

Marianus asserts Freeport must continue to operate in Papua, on the condition it increases contributions to economic, health and educational development and repairs the damage it has incurred to date. “Customary communities around mining area must not remain spectators but must assume the role of actors,” he said.  

MoU 2000 Forum leader from the Amungme tribe, Yopi Kilangin also stated a desire for continuation of Freeport’s contract. He agrees remaining issues between the communities and the company such as over traditional land rights and compensation should be settled in an amicable manner. 

“Our message to the government is that Freeport must remain and its contract must be extended. But as far as the customary communities are concerned, Freeport must carry out improvements and increase its contributions in the future,” he said. 

Amungme-Kamoro community leader Hans Magal cautioned the government and the political elite in parliament to cease talking about Freeport. Those most knowledgeable about Freeport are the people of Papua, and primarily the communities around the mining area, such as the Amungme and Kamoro. 

“So if (the government) want to know, ask us who are in Papua for accurate answers,” he stressed. He says polemic taking place in Jakarta over Freeport is due to lack of accurate information about the world’s biggest gold mining company and its contributions to Papua.

“Papuans who are the owners of the mineral resources are quietly looking on as the row takes place in Jakarta that clearly demonstrates vested interests,” he said.  

He called on President Joko Widodo to open the doors of democracy wide in Papua, primarily for the Amungme and Kamoro, and discuss the rights of traditional land owners and the assets mined by Freeport.

“The Freeport issue must be relinquished to the Papua provincial government and the customary landowners to resolve. Freeport will be protected by the customary Amungme and Kamoro to continue operating, as Freeport still has much to accomplish in Papua,” he concluded. (mix)

Source: Radar Timika Daily, December 28, 2015

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