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[Mongabay] Amungme and Kamoro Communities Respond to Freeport Issue

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Freeport Mine in Papua

The fuss between the Indonesian Government and PT Freeport Indonesia (Freeport) is starting to subside. The government asked Freeport to change the work contract into a special mining business permit (IUPK), as well as divestment of 51% shares. There was resistance even though recently the company from the United States agreed. What is the view of customary land owners in Papua?

Ronny Nakiaya, from the Kamoro Tribe and Secretary of the Independent Indigenous Community (MAI), said that so far the status change process has not involved the local community.
“The negotiation process has not yet involved us. Grassroots communities are not involved. "There was never a process of sitting down with us to discuss what the future of Freeport would look like," he said last weekend.

Also read: The Freeport Fuss Isn't Just About Money, What's the Fate of the Environment and the Papuan People?

He suspects that there may be a compromise between local elites. If there is a negotiation process, it should still involve the community.
“Let the community determine what their future will be like. "Communities who own areas directly receive the impact of the Freeport mine," he said.
In Ronny's view, the Amungme and Kamoro tribes, owners of the customary land where Freeport operates in Papua, have firmly asked the government to close Freeport's mines. So far, they have only been victims of Freeport and the government.
While Freeport was operating, he said, many of the rights of the Amungme and Kamoro indigenous peoples were taken away. The right to a healthy environment, to customary territorial rights, civil rights and others.

“Freeport confiscated customary land without any negotiation with the Amungme and Kamoro communities. Freeport also causes conflicts between the interests of elites. "People are often pitted against each other," he said.
The community has now lost their livelihood. Previously they could farm and gather, now the land is polluted by waste. “Violence continues,” he said.
In fact, the Amungme and Kamoro people must have a Freeport permit to enter their territory. In fact, the area is clearly their ancestral land.
Likewise, when talking about Freeport's contribution, he said, they haven't felt it yet. Since operating in 1967, continued Pepera 1969, there has been no significant contribution.

Natural resources (SDA), said Ronny, are being depleted, leaving environmental damage, making local communities miserable.
“We don't get anything from exploiting the mine. It was only after the 1996 rebellion that caused many victims that Freeport provided 1% funds. Even that is not clear, because it is not directly felt by the public. It is said that Freeport has provided access to health and education, we have never felt that. "The 1% funds are also unclear."
In fact, after the 1% funds were established, new elites emerged who had never had direct contact with indigenous communities. In addition, inter-tribal conflicts often occur.
He also asked the government to close Freeport's mining operations and conduct a thorough audit.

Ronny is aware that this demand will definitely have a downstream impact, such as mass layoffs. Companies, he said, must be responsible for paying worker severance pay and environmental restoration together with the government.
“Freeport and the government must be responsible for repairing the damage. Freeport's operational area, the environment is damaged. Leaking embankments, thousands of hectares of barren land and polluted by waste. It must be returned. There must be compensation for damage to nature."

Some time ago, Mimika Regent Eltinus Omaleng asked for Freeport 20% shares so that there would be justice for the Amungme and Comoro people.

Nicolaus Kanuggok, a Kamoro youth, said something different. Nico shares Ronny's view, he wants Freeport to close.
Even if after the audit there are further discussions regarding Freeport's future, he said, it should be left to the community directly.
“Our aspirations are clear, close and audit first. We don't ask for any percentage of shares. Close first, after closing, audit first. We want to know how much it contributes to society. After that, the community decides. The government is just a facilitator.”
He asked that the community be involved in all agreements and that there be a legal umbrella so that there is strength.

Adolfina Kuum, an Amungme traditional woman leader, rejects any compromise between the Indonesian government and the United States regarding Freeport.
"So far, we who own customary rights have never been involved by the government and Freeport. Should be involved."

The Institute for Human Rights Studies and Advocacy (Elsam) also asked the Indonesian government to involve the Papuan people in negotiations with Freeport. Negotiations must be within the framework of a comprehensive solution for environmental restoration and resolving human rights violations resulting from Freeport's operations. Not only discussing fulfilling government regulatory obligations.
Ari Yurino, Elsam's human rights advocate, said that the Indonesian government must prepare sources of livelihood for the people of Timika after the exhaustion of mineral and coal materials in the Freeport operational area, in the next 10 or 50 years.


Salah satu daratan yang terjadi karena endapan tailing di perairan Timika. Foto: Yoga Pribadi

One of the lands that occurred due to sediment tailings in Timika waters. Photo: Private Yoga

Utilization of all of Papua's natural resources should be for the welfare and improvement of the quality of life of the community. "It's ironic, considering that since the initial awarding of Freeport's first work contract, indigenous peoples have never been involved," he said.
Since official mining began (1967), the Amungme and Kamoro tribes have successively lost 100,000 hectares of customary land.
In 1983-1985, 7,000 hectares of land was lost again for the establishment of Timika City. 25,000 hectares of land were lost for the establishment of Kuala Kencana, which was inaugurated by Suharto in 1997.

The Amungme tribe, he said, lost one million hectares of land to immigrants from outside Papua in the name of the transmigration program.
After ratifying Freeport's 1991 work contract, the Indonesian government declared its agreement to grant a land concession for Freeport's mining needs covering an area of 2.6 million hectares.
"This results in impoverishment for the Amungme and Kamoro people."

Freeport's operations, he said, also sacrificed a number of rivers which became sites for dumping toxic waste such as mercury and cyanide, namely the Aghawagon, Otomona, Ajkwa, Minajerwi and Aimone rivers.
The Ajkwa River in Mimika has been a dumping ground for tailings since 1998. River water pollution makes it difficult for the Amungme and Kamoro communities to access clean water.

The practice of confiscating customary land and environmental pollution, he said, is not unknown to the Indonesian government. The government tried to cover up Freeport's various human rights violations and environmental damage during the New Order era.
For example, in 1995, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) stated that Freeport polluted rivers in Papua with tailings containing acid and poison.


Divestment drains the budget?

The Indonesian government is asked to be careful and careful in divesting mining shares of foreign companies in Indonesia. The share divestment policy which requires the government to own shares of up to 51% is considered to be at risk of draining the state revenue and expenditure budget (ABPN) and even having a negative impact on the future investment climate.

“This policy threatens future investment. "The majority of Indonesian investment is foreign investment," said Emanuel Bria, a researcher at the Natural Resource Governance Institute recently in a discussion in Yoggakarta.
This mining share divestment rule means that foreign companies must relinquish some share ownership to the government.
"The divestment of company shares is often used by Indonesian conglomerates, often just as long as the funds come from foreign loans," he said.

According to Bria, like the plan to divest Freeport 51% shares, a lot of funds are needed. Half of Freeport's total shares, equal to 40% of health budget funds. “Imagine if the budgets of all hospitals in Kalimantan, NTT and Sumatra. Moreover, later the government will buy it using the APBN."

Josaphat Rizal Primana, Director of Energy, Mineral and Mining Resources, Bappenas, said that the government policies of President Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla were very proactive.
The divestment policy, he said, is mandated by the Minerba Law. Even so, Rizal does not agree that Freeport is managed by BUMN, because state companies have not provided maximum profits. The condition for divestment, he said, is if BUMN and BUMD are efficient and transparent. "Many BUMNs are making losses, only a few are making a profit for the country."

Mukhlis, Tax Manager of PT Freeport Indonesia, added that Freeport has been operating since 1973. Income to the country was US$16.6 billion from 1992 until now. The company employs 12,184 people, involving around 35% Papuan residents. Funds to the community total US$1.46 billion.
As a multinational mining company, he said, Freeport needs legal guarantees from the government to continue to develop.

Ermy Ardhyanti from Article 33 said that the natural resources business has strategic value, but the impact of mining on the environment and creating ecological disasters is never included in the state's losses.
In research on mining royalties, Article 33 found that the mining industry's fiscal scheme did not consider environmental damage and loss of people's livelihoods.
Royalties are small. For PKP2B permit holders it is around 13.5% and mining business permit holders 10%. "The regional government receives profit sharing but has an obligation to deal with disasters and damage in mining areas that is greater than the income," he said.
He said, Article 33 wanted to add a damage cost indicator formula. “Royalties for the country are undervalued.”

Environmental damage and mining disasters have never been calculated. Mining in Indonesia 90% open pit, high damage impact. Post-mining guarantee and security funds are ineffective and inadequate.
The latest KPK data, he said, is that around 80-90% mining companies did not provide reclamation guarantee funds. "That was not an important concern when the permit was issued," he said.