Freeport strike: Police accused of siding with Freeport. Union given one-day ultimatum

Bintang Papua, 31 October 2011
[Abridged in translation by TAPOL]Timika: The actions taken by the police in Mimika have created the impression that the police are siding with Freeport-Indonesia, said a commissioner of Komnas HAM, the National Human Rights Commission, Ridha Saleh. In an interview with Kompas, he said that the police have warned that firm measures are being planned against the strike and the blockade set up by Freeport workers if  the blockade is not lifted within two days.

‘The measures being planned by the police reinforce the impression that, along with the money being paid by Freeport to the security forces, they are siding with the company,’ he said.

Ridha said that there was nothing unconstitutional about the strike and therefore workers should not be dispersed. The police in Mimika are going too far, he said. These measures would also  damage the negotiations now under way between the two sides  which are currently proceeding well.

‘We intend to talk to the police and ask them to abandon these measures. We also intend to speak to the national chief of police and the chief of police in Papua.’

The strike which started on 15 September is intended to persuade the company to pay attention to the welfare of the workers. The increase in wages offered by the company is not acceptable, in view of  terrain in which they work and the risks involved.

Police ultimatum to the workers:

The executive of the Freeport branch of the trade union, the SPSI, have been given an ultimatum by the police in Mimika, not to spread the strike to Mile 28, Mile 27 and Gorong-Gorong. The ultimatum was contained in a letter dated 30 October, along with a request to open access  which has been blocked by strikers. The police along with other security forces have given an ultimatum of only 24 hours, starting from the moment this request is made, for the strikers to conform with the regulations in force. ‘If this does not happen, the police will take firm action in accordance with the regulations in force,’ the letter from the police says.

The SPSI was also told to co-ordinate with the strikers  and ensure that the laws in force are not violated.

According to the police, the basis for these measures is the Criminal Code, Law 9/1998 on Freedom of Expression and Law 13/2003 on Labour Relations.

The chief of police in Mimika has also said that conditions  in the vicinity of Freeport-Indonesia are becoming less and less conducive  as a result of the strike which is, according to the police, being conducted in violation of the earlier notification given by the trade union.

According to the police, a number of anarchic actions have occurred in violation of strike regulations. Moreover, the workers have started holding demonstrations  without having informed the police, blocking access to a ‘vital national asset’ and disturbing the public order. [The police ultimatum goes on  mention a long list of laws and regulations which are deemed to have been violated by the strikers.]

The police ultimatum to the SPSI has also been sent to the governor of Papua, the chairman of the Mimika DPRP, the commander of the Cenderawasih Military Command, the President-Director of Freeport and other relevant agencies.

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