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Protest of Killings of Indonesian Mine Workers

Press Release – The East Timor Action Network ETAN

The Phoenix Industrial Workers of the World, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network/Arizona, and the United Steelworkers will march to the headquarter offices of Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold in protest of killings of workers in West Papua, Indonesia.

Occupy Freeport McMoran Protest of Killings of Indonesian Mine Workers

The Phoenix Industrial Workers of the World, East Timor and Indonesia Action Network/Arizona, and the United Steelworkers will march to the headquarter offices of Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold in protest of killings of workers in West Papua, Indonesia.

The protest will begin at 3:00p.m. at Cesar Chavez Plaza, site of recent Occupy Phoenix protests, and head to Freeport McMoran’s offices for a protest ending at 6:00 p.m.

Elizabeth Venable, member of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network’s Executive Committee, described the issues of concern, saying, “We are deeply concerned by the escalating violence in the area of U.S.-based Freeport McMoran’s massive gold and cooper mining operation located in the Timika-Tembagapura area of West Papua. This violence has led to at least 7 worker deaths. Workers have been on strike since September 15 seeking higher wages on par with those that Freeport pays workers at its mines elsewhere. Freeport’s response has been to stonewall, reject worker demands, and hire scab workers.”

Jacobe Illich, of the International Workers of the World union, stated, “This picket is in response to Freeport’s hired security forces opening fire on striking miners in Indonesia, killing seven so far and wounding many. Rather than negotiating with the miners to grant them a living wage, Freeport has chosen to murder them. Freeport is also responsible for the extreme environmental and community damage it has caused the citizens of West Papua.” The situation in West Papua is considered a genocide by many experts¬similar to the genocide in East Timor caused by the Indonesian military.

To date, at least 7 workers have been killed. Indonesian police are paid directly by Freeport for protection. A worker was killed and others were injured by police at a large demonstration when police fired live ammunition into the crowd of protesting workers. An attack on a vehicle carrying police and Freeport personnel led to two deaths and injury to two others. Perpetrators have not been caught. In the past, similar assaults against security and Freeport personnel have been attributed to conflicts among police, military and Freeport security personnel who have long feuded over the division of spoils from extortion practices that target Freeport, as well as conflict over freelance gold-mining efforts by local people.

The growing tensions, which are at their highest levels in the area since military-organized riots in 1996, come against a backdrop of decades of human rights abuse by police and military units acting in service of Freeport’s interests, the forced evacuation of villages to facilitate Freeport operations, and ongoing pollution of the local environment. Freeport’s disposal of tailings has destroyed vast stretches of forest and an entire river system (the Ajkwa). The company’s human rights and environmental practices have long been criticized by major institutional investors, including the Norwegian Ministry of Finance, which publicly divested all Freeport stock holdings from the country’s Government Pension Fund – Global.

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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