Kontras condemns police shooting of Freeport workers

Kontras, the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence has condemned the shooting of Freeport workers who were seeking negotiations with the management of the company. Since the commencement of the strike on 15 September there has been no sign that the management is seeking to provide the space for dialogue which could accommodate the interests of the two sides.

During an action on 10 October, the workers protested against the company for recruiting new workers to replace those now on strike. We have received information that some eight thousand workers  were involved in this action. They marched from the secretariat of the SBSI, the trade union, to the culverts, a distance of about 500 metres along a road that was six metres wide. A short distance away, hundreds of policemen were standing on guard.

The police tried to disperse the workers action as they were seeking to meet the management of the company.. Having failed to meet the management, the workers burned some vehicles believed to belong to the company. The police then opened fire on the workers: Petrus Ayamiseba  who works in catering at the company  was shot in the waist and died. Six others were wounded, Leo Wandagau, Alius Komba, Melkius Rumbiak, Yunus Nguliduan, Philiton Kogoya and Ahmad. Some of the policemen were also injured.

We regard the shooting and violence as an act of intervention and intimidation against industrial relations as guaranteed in Law13/2003 on Labour Affairs. The government, in this case the Department of Labour and Transmigration, should be playing a role to guarantee the basic rights of the workers as stipulated in that law, in particular with regard to legal procedures in article 137.

Furthermore, it is clearly stated that no one shall interfere with strike actions undertaken by the workers. (article 143) and workers on strike may not be replaced by other workers in any form whatsoever (article 144).

The presence and acts of violence by hundreds of police have damaged the efforts of the workers  to seek negotiations with the namagement. The police have clearly sided with Freeport  by undertaking  patrols and protection of the company and have been receiving monthly contributions (see letter from head of operations no b/918/IV/2011). The function of the police should  be to protect the people,

The shooting and acts of violence have also violated a number of regulations. Internally, the police should implement the regulations of the police  Furthermore the police have also violated a number of other laws such as the Human Rights Law of 1999 and Law 12/2005 on Ratification of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Kontras therefore calls on the police:

1. To conduct a thorough investigation into the shooting and acts of violence that occurred on 10 October,

2. To pursue legal procedures  that are impartial, credible, accountable and transparent with regard  to the shooting and acts of violence.

3. Should take steps to ensure that the police maintain their independence in all industrial relations disputes so as to ensure that they do not trigger acts of violence and other breaches of the law.

Jakarta, 10 October 2011

[Translated by TAPOL]

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