apologies for the delay in posting due to behind the scenes work.
by Victor Mambor and Abeth You from Tabloid Jubi, with additional reporting from West Papua Media
November 7, 2015
Jayapura, Jubi – Paniai Regional Customary Council, John NR Gobai, said one of mining companies operated along the Degeuwo River, Paniai Regency, namely PT. Madinah Qurrata’ain, has appointed retired Police Inspector General RT as its chief executive.
The local people found out about it after a report said a police general who had been allowing the company to continue its operation employed a number of Mobile Brigade personnel of Papua Police.
“In Degeuwo, a retired police officer, a former Inspector General has been appointed, even whilst he was known for involvement with human rights issues. In our records, he held many important positions in the Indonesian Police Headquarters, including as the Coordinator of the Social Economy Experts of the former Indonesian Police Chief, General (retired) Sutarman in 2013,” Gobai told Jubi on Sunday (25/10/2015).
For that reason, Gobai asked the Papua Police Chief Inspector General Paulus Waterpauw to immediately withdraw the Mobile Brigade personnel that guard around the illegal mining area located in the customary territory of three tribes, Wolani, Mee and Moni. “The specific Police officers and Mobile Brigade personnel (involved at the mone) were actors behind the 2012 shooting incident of Melianus Kegepe, Mathias Tenouye and Selpius Kegepe. The bullets (that killed the teenagers) belong to Brimob,” he said.
The case referred to by Gobai was the May 15, 2012 incident when a small fight between teenagers at a allegedly Brimob-run illegal gambling ring at the mining camp in Degeuwo, was escalated by Brimob officers abused, then beat and shot the teenagers. Although the perpetrators were identified amid widespread calls for their arrest, they enjoyed complete impunity and continued to guard and moonlight at the gold diggings site on the Degeuwo River.
The gold diggings along the Derero and Degeuwo River catchments in the Paniai have long been flashpoints for major human rights abuses. Deeply entangled relationships between colonised indigenous people in Paniai and Occupation security forces have caused much conflict superficially assessed as horizontal between miners and migrants, however the conflict is vertically managed by local battalions of Brimob and Battalion 753 of the Indonesian Army. Each of the entanglements created major civilian displacement, with brutal human rights abuses culminating in major sweeps against civilians and/or non violent human rights defenders, and the wholesale destruction of villages. Each December a massive joint force of Brimob and the Indonesian army embark on a major anti-separatist military operation to bring in the remaining members of Jhon Yogi’s pro-independence West Papua National Liberation Army fighters, which never happens, but vast swathes of territory that conveniently are listed as mining concessions are seized by Brimob police and military.
Brimob also is closely involved in the area with an Australian company called Paniai Gold, and its subsidiary Derero River Gold, based in Melbourne and closely tied with global conglomerate West Wits Mining Limited.. During Operation Adil Matoa n 2011 and the follow up major offensive in December 2013 (Known locally as “the killing season”), Survey and Exploration helicopters on lease to DRG were used by the same Brimob personnel to conduct ad-hoc bombing and incendiary raids on numerous Papuan villages.
Both Paniai Gold and its local partners have long given into Brimob demands for protection money and logisitcal support, and PT Madinah operates alongside the DRG digging and facilites.
John Gobai further said that Papuan entrepreneurs and traders would be ready to lead and work with the Papuan-run gold companies, such as PT. Salomo Mining. However PT. Madinah contributes much less to the local government and indigenous people, in providing any economic benefit.
“A good resolution for Degeuwo is that the Paniai Local Government coordinates with the Papua Provincial Government to determine the People’s Mining Area as proposed many times previously. ago. The Papuan Governor has approved that WPR (Wilayah Pertambangan Rakyat or People’s mining area) could accommodate the entire group as well as to assure all interest. Then, the People Mining Permit (IPR) would be issued on behalf of the land tenure owner to ensure the indigenous people to become the landowner or permit holder. So the mining workers work under the supervision of indigenous people and LPMA SWAMEMO would become their coach,” he said.
The Chairman of LPMA SWAMEMO (Walane, Mee and Moni Community Development Institution), Thobias Bagubau said LPMA had surveyed the aspirations of people living surrounding the illegal mining area along the Degeuwo River, Paniai Regency. The socialisation to collect the people’s aspiration was held on 21 – 30 September 2015 in the illegal mining areas, from block 45, 81, 99, Baya Biru to Gunung Botak.
“At that time we held a meeting with the indigenous people, involving the tribes of Wolani, Mee and Moni and other (migrant) tribes such as Dani, Sengir Talaud, Buton and Makassa, to listen their testimonies,” Thobias Bagubai told Jubi in Abepura on Thursday (22/10/2015). On that occasion, Bagubau said, he revealed his vision and mission in order to maintain or protect the environment, community and to reduce the conflict in there.