The $100 billion gold mine and the West Papuans who say they count the cost

Section:

By Susan Schulman
The Guardian, London
Tuesday, November 1, 2016

TIMIKA, West Papua, Indonesia -- In 1936 Dutch geologist Jean Jacques Dozy climbed the world's highest island peak: the forbidding Mount Carstensz, a snow-covered silver crag on what was then known as Dutch New Guinea. During the 4,800-metre ascent, Dozy noticed an unusual rock outcrop veined with green streaks. Samples he brought back confirmed exceptionally rich gold and copper deposits.

Today these remote, sharp-edged mountains are part of West Papua, Indonesia's largest province, and home to the Grasberg mine, one of the biggest gold mines -- and third-largest copper mine -- in the world. Majority-owned by the American mining firm Freeport McMoRan, Grasberg is now Indonesia's biggest taxpayer, with reserves worth an estimated $100 billion.

... Dispatch continues below ...



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But a recent fact-finding mission by the Brisbane (Australia) Archdiocese's Catholic Justice and Peace Commission described a "slow-motion genocide" taking place in West Papua, warning that its indigenous population is at risk of becoming "an anthropological museum exhibit of a bygone culture."

Since the Suharto dictatorship annexed the region in a 1969 United Nations referendum largely seen as a fixed land grab, an estimated 500,000 West Papuans have been killed in their fight for self-rule. Decades of military and police oppression, kidnapping, and torture have created a longstanding culture of fear. Local and foreign journalists are routinely banned, detained, beaten and forced to face trial on trumped-up charges. Undercover police regularly trail indigenous religious, social, and political leaders. And children still in primary school have been jailed for taking part in demonstrations calling for independence from Indonesia.

"There is no justice in this country," whispered one indigenous villager on condition of anonymity, looking over his shoulder fearfully. "It is an island without law." ...

... For the remainder of the report:

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2016/nov/02/100-bn-dollar...

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