Attacks near Freeport's Grasberg mine, West Papua, Indonesia - Jul 2009

During the weekend of 11-12 July 2009, several people were shot near the Grasberg mine in West Papua, Indonesia, operated by Freeport-McMoRan.  The following articles summarise issues raised by the shootings.  If Freeport-McMoRan issues a statement, we will include it here as well.

Freeport's human rights problem in Indonesia, Stephen Frost, CSR Asia, 15 July
Three deaths over the weekend have again shone a spotlight on Freeport’s human rights problem in Indonesia. Sitting atop the largest reserves of gold in the world, the company’s Grasberg gold and copper mine has become – according to one human rights activist – a ‘magnet’ for violence.

Indonesia ambushes leave three dead - Press Association, 13 Jul 2009
A policeman's body has been found at the bottom of a ravine near the Indonesian operations of US mining conglomerate Freeport, raising the death toll from a series of weekend ambushes in restive Papua province to three.  A 29-year-old Australian mining expert and a security guard were killed and seven others wounded in three weekend shootings within a two-mile radius near the Grasberg mining complex... Indonesian authorities have blamed the Free Papua Movement for the latest attacks, but police say they recovered bullet casings of standard military and police grade from the scene, casting doubt on that claim.

Papuan figure calls for professional probe into Freeport shooting - Antara News [Indonesia], 11 Jul 2009
Security agencies should conduct a professional investigation into the fatal shooting on Saturday of Drew Nicholas Grant, an Australian working for PT Freeport in Papua, a Papuan community figure said.  "Conduct a professional investigation into the shooting and try to unveil the mystery behind it," senior Papuan community figure Yoris Raweyai said here on Saturday... He added that each time a shooting incident happened in Papua, the separatist Free Papua Organization (OPM) was made a scapegoat... Yoris...[added] that he wondered how the shooting incident could have occurred in the Freeport area which was actually closed to outsiders.

Human rights group says recent shooting in Papua similiar to 2002 shootings - Radio New Zealand Intl., 13 Jul 2009
...US-based West Papua Advocacy Team says there are some key parallels between these shootings and those which killed three Freeport employees in Timika in 2002.  US and Indonesian investigators found that Papuan separatists were behind the 2002 attack but local rights groups have long maintained the military had a hand in the killings.  WPAT’s Ed McWilliams says that based on police reports about the latest shooting, it was carried out on the same road from the mine as the 2002 attack and also involved a security forces weapon.

Military weapons used to kill Australian in Papua- Lauren Wilson & Debbie Guest, The Australian, 13 Jul 2009
"It's clear they (the attackers) were using weapons belonging to the police or the military," Major General Ekodanto said... He would not comment on a possible motive for the murder or say whether the killers were from a separatist group opposed to the Indonesian government. [also refers to Rio Tinto]

Military, police 'among suspects' in Freeport killings - AM (news radio programme), ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corp.), 13 Jul 2009
...[T]here is still speculation as to whether Papuan separatist rebels or Indonesian military or police are the likely suspects... Victor Yeimo, the chairman of the West Papua National Committee which is closely aligned with [Papuan separatist] rebels, says there were OPM [Papuan separatist group] operations going on in the area where the deaths occurred.  "Yes, in the area where [victim Drew Grant] was, it's clear that OPM did an attack in that area," he said.  "But it's unclear whether they hit Drew's car or not because that was not the only place where they did the attacks..." But an Australian source from within Freeport who has worked with security services at the mine and wishes to remain anonymous, told AM that he suspects some degree of military or police involvement...  He does not offer evidence...other than to point out that the security role at the mine of Indonesia's mobile police brigade, known as Brimob, is under threat as the company is considering replacing them with private security contractors.

TNI Denies Receiving Freeport Money To Provide Security to Grasberg Mine - Nurfika Osman, Jakarta Globe, 13 Jul 2009
The Armed Forces on Sunday again denied that it was still receiving payments from US mining company Freeport McMoran to provide security... He said the military would never accept payments because it was its job “to protect all citizens in the country. Besides, the law states that the security of all vital installations are now handled by the police.” In March, the TNI denied reports from Bill Collier, a Freeport spokesman, to AFP that its local subsidiary PT Freeport Indonesia paid “less than” $1.6 million through wire transfers and checks in 2008 to provide a “monthly allowance” to police and soldiers at and around the mine... Collier said the direct payments were part of $8 million Freeport paid in broader “support costs” for 1,850 police and soldiers protecting Grasberg last year... Mindo Pangaribuan, a spokesman for Freeport Indonesia, also denied the report stating that they paid the TNI. “It is not true at all. We never give them any money to protect us,” Mindo said... An Indonesian-based researcher on Papua, who only spoke on condition of anonymity, said allegations that the TNI received military payments from the mining company haven’t gone away.  “As of around 2005 or 2006, the Army’s not getting payments, officially. But there are still military units there that are part of the task force that’s under police command,” he said.

Doubts emerge over Papua killings - BBC News, 14 Jul 2009
The rebel Free Papua Movement has denied any role in the shooting of an Australian at a mine in Indonesia... Autopsies have suggested evidence may have been altered, and police said that the bullets used were military issue.  The revelations have raised doubts about official accusations that the separatist rebels were to blame for this and two other fatal shootings... The Timika commander of the Free Papua Movement, Kelly Kwalik, told the Jakarta Globe newspaper that his fighters neither had the desire, nor the equipment, for the attacks... Freeport's Indonesian spokesman Mindo Pangaribuan said security had been tightened in the area after the incident, and that the mine's operations have not been disturbed... Analysts have noted that Freeport is a lucrative posting for Indonesian security forces - they are paid by the mining company and also earn large amounts of money by charging money to local illegal miners.

Indonesia deaths expose murky history of gold mine - Aubrey Belford, AFP, 14 Jul 2009
A series of killings in...Papua...have thrown a spotlight on the murky history of a massive US-owned mine... The violence is the latest to hit a mine that has for decades extracted billions of dollars of wealth in the face of accusations ranging from environmental vandalism to the bankrolling of rights abuses by security forces... The mine -- whose operations are closed to unwanted visitors, including foreign journalists... -- is a "magnet" for violence, Human Rights Working Group head Rafendi Djamin told AFP... "(The attacks) are heavily politically tainted, but from which side we don't know."  Seen by many as a symbol of outside exploitation amid grinding poverty, the Freeport mine is a natural target for the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM). But Freeport also has a long history of paying Indonesian security forces for protection, a practice that some observers say provides an incentive for security forces to attack the mine to justify their lucrative presence.