IHRC Media Release: Indonesia Human Rights Committee applauds NZ Superannuation Fund decision to divest from Freeport McMoran on ethical grounds

Indonesia Human Rights Committee,

 26 September 2012

IHRC is delighted that the NZ Superannuation Fund has decided to pull its investments from the Freeport McMoran mining giant. (NZ Superannuation Fund Media Release 26 September, 2012. )

‘We have been campaigning for the Superannuation Fund and other Crown Financial Institutes to divest from Freeport for six years and we know the news will be welcomed the West Papuan people who have been campaigning about the mine’s impact on their communities for decades.’

‘The Norwegian Pension Fund divested from Freeport several years ago on environmental grounds, but the NZ Superannuation Fund has stated that the breaches of human rights by the security forces were the critical factor in their decision making. So this is an advance.’

‘We intend to call to the Super Fund Offices in Auckland on Friday to make a personal acknowledgement of this important step.’

Freeport has been directly or indirectly responsible for gross human rights abuses in West Papua since it was first granted a highly favourable contract to exploit gold and copper in the days of the Suharto dictatorship.  These abuses include torture, illegal detentions, and killings.   These days the area close to mine is no-go area and an area where the Indonesian security forces rule the roost.   Shooting deaths are regular occurrence on the access road and last October police killed a miner and injured several others who were carrying out a lawful strike.

According to Rev Socrates Yoman a leading human rights advocate Freeport is like an ATM for the security forces – when there is conflict they can be sure of money.

The mine has destroyed a mountain considered sacred by the indigenous Amungme people and displaced thousands, destroying their forest-based subsistence lifestyle in the process.  Local people live below the poverty line- only Jakarta and the mining magnates get the wealth from the enormously profitable mining enterprise.

Freeport uses a system for disposing of the mine waste tailings in the river system -outlawed almost everywhere else in the world.   Over 200, 000 tonnes of waste a day are deposited in the river leading to the creation of vast dead zone where nothing grows.

For further information; Maire Leadbeater; 09-815-9000 or 0274-436-957

WEST PAPUA: NZ Super Fund ends investment in Freeport mine over human rights breaches


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Item: 8112

WELLINGTON (Radio NZ International / Pacific Media Watch): Human rights breaches have prompted the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to end its investment in the huge Freeport McMoRan copper and gold mine in Indonesia’s West Papua region.

Until now, the fund, of just over US$15 billion, has had just over a US$1 million directly invested in the Grasberg mine, and had rejected calls that this was an inappropriate investment of public money.

But the manager for responsible investment, Ann-Maree O’Connor says the fund has become concerned at a recurrence of security issues at the mine and she says human rights breaches are a key factor.

“The context is such that there have been fatalities at the mine, that there have been reports by MSCI and other sources of information that these have breached human rights standards so we believe that the situation is one that could continue well into the future, and those are the standards that we look at when we considering reviewing the behaviour of companies.”

– The New Zealand Superannunation Fund’s manager for responsible investment, Ann-Maree O’Connor.

The NZ Green Party co-leader, Russel Norman said this was a very positive development.

“The people of West Papua will, I think, receive the information very gratefully, the fact that the New Zealand government, the New Zealand Super Fund is taking a stand against the terrible practices at this mine. I think it’s great news.”

Dr Russel Norman said it was “great” that the Super Fund was taking a stronger ethical stance.

PMW editor: The NZ Superannuation Fund’s involvement in the controversial Freeport mine was challenged in a major investigative article in Metro magazine last December.

The article, written by AUT communication studies student and photojournalist Karen Abplanalp, featured a long-running strike at the mine and the shooting of miners in “suspicious circumstances”.

The allegations were widely reported by Pacific Media Watch.

PMW article on the Super Fund issue




Arrests in Fak-Fak as demos support IPWP, reject UP4B

from West Papua Media and local sources

Confirmed reports have emerged from Fak-Fak, on the west coast of West Papua, that at least ten demonstrators were arrested by Indonesian police on March 1.

The demonstrations were being held to reject a new body – U4PB (or Program to Accelerate Development of Papua and West Papua) – appointed by Indonesia to re-implement the failed Special Autonomy package that was to give Papuans a greater share of their own wealth.  Regular protests from Papuan civil society have rejected this new body due to its refusal to consider Papuan demands, and  recognise the failure of the existing package.

Those arrested were identified as the following:

  1. Siswanto Tigtigweria
  2. Lukas Hegemur
  3. Quartus Ndoratndorat
  4. Modestus Komber
  5. Yeheskal Hegemur
  6. Nikson Hindom
  7. Pazco Hindom
  8. Samuel Rohrohmana
  9. Amos Wagab
  10. Renol Hegemur

The protest was also held to support the February 28 launch in Canberra, Australia, of a new regional chapter of the International Parliamentarians for West Papua.  This meeting attracted Members of Parliament from Vanuatu, New Zealand, and several parties in Australia, including MPs from the Australian Government.  Demonstrations in support of IPWP were held across ten centres in West Papua.

Neither Police or local human rights sources have been able to identity the exact nature of charges against the ten detainees.  However Indonesian police historically have laid Makar (Treason) charges against Papuans attending demonstrations in support of the right of self-determination.

West Papua Media was unsuccessful in seeking comment from Police.

This is a developing story.


West Papua violence hits Indonesian RSF media rankings – NZ, Fiji fall

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Item: 7803

PARIS (Reporters sans frontières / Pacific Media Watch): An Indonesian military crackdown in the West Papua region, where at least two journalists were killed, five kidnapped and 18 assaulted in 2011, is the main reason for the country’s fall to 146th position in the annual Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

A corrupt judiciary that is too easily influenced by politicians and pressure groups and government attempts to control the media and Internet have prevented the development of a freer press, said the 2011 RSF report released today.

West Papua strongly featured in an earlier Pacific Journalism Review media freedom report which condemned Indonesia’s human rights record in October.

Fiji, which has a draconian media decree imposed by the military backed regime that seized power in a 2006 coup, dropped again to 117th. The survey was completed before the Pacific country lifted  its Public Emergency Regulations (PER) earlier this year.

Countries that have “traditionally been good performers in the Asia-Pacific region did not shine in 2011”, the RSF report said.

“With New Zealand’s fall to 13th position, no country in the region figured among the top 10 in the index.

“Hong Kong (54th) saw a sharp deterioration in press freedom in 2011 and its ranking fell sharply.

“Arrests, assaults and harassment worsened working conditions for journalists to an extent not seen previously, a sign of a worrying change in government policy.

“In Australia (30th), the media were subjected to investigations and criticism by the authorities, and were denied access to information, while in Japan (22nd) coverage of the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear accident gave rise to excessive restrictions and exposed the limits of the pluralism of the country’s press.”

The best ranked Pacific Islands nation was Papua New Guinea (35th), three places above France (38th) which has territories in the region.

Samoa (54th) ranked equal with Hong Kong, just ahead of the United States territories and well clear of Tonga (63rd) and Timor-Leste (86th). Vanuatu, which has been a problem over the past year, was not listed. Nor was the Solomon Islands.

“In the Philippines (140th), which rose again in the index after falling in 2010 as a result of the massacre of 32 journalists in Ampatuan in November 2009, paramilitary groups and private militias continued to attack media workers,” the RSF report said.

“The judicial investigation into the Ampatuan massacre made it clear that the response of the authorities was seriously inadequate.

“In Afghanistan (150th) and Pakistan (151st), violence remained the main concern for journalists, who were under constant threat from the Taliban, religious extremists, separatist movements and political groups.

“With 10 deaths in 2011, Pakistan (151st) was the world’s deadliest country for journalists for the second year in a row.”

Full RSF world press freedom report index – Asia-Pacific

Pacific Journalism Review 2011 media freedom report

NZ NGO statement on the violence around the Third Papuan People’s Congress in West Papua

Below is a statement from New Zealand human rights, development and peace organisations about the use excessive use of force and human rights violations perpetrated by Indonesian police and military personnel breaking up the Third Papuan People’s Congress in Jayapura, West Papua, on 19 October 2011.

The statement by Father Dr Neles Tebay, Rector of Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology, and Father Gabriel Ngga OFM, Provincial of the Franciscan Order in Papua (referred to in the NZ NGO statement) which documents the associated violence against Catholic institutions is available at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/wp-cath1011.pdfNGO statement on violence following Third Papuan People’s Congress in October 2011

3 November 2011

We the undersigned New Zealand human rights, development and peace organisations call for the Indonesian government to immediately investigate allegations of excessive force and human rights violations by police and military personnel in breaking up the Third Papuan People’s congress on 19 October 2011 in Jayapura, Papua.

We also deplore the entry by military forces – without permission or prior notice –  into the nearby Yerusalem Baru seminary and Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology and associated facilities within the Catholic mission compound in the area.

We call for an immediate dialogue between the Government of Indonesia and Papuan leaders to prevent further instances of unnecessary violence; and to address the issues that underpin conflict in Papua.


At least six deaths have been reported and hundreds of people were initially detained when security forces moved in with guns and violence to disperse several thousand unarmed people who had gathered peacefully for the congress on 17-19 October.  Video and documented evidence shows that police and military officers used pistols, canes and batons to beat congress participants, and threatened them. Such actions are a violation of rights to freedom of expression, opinion and peaceful assembly guaranteed under both the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Indonesian Constitution.

A statement from the Rector of Fajar Timur School of Philosophy and Theology, Father Dr Neles Tebay, and the Provincial of the Franciscan Order in Papua, Father Gabriel Ngga OFM, documents the violence with which security forces entered Catholic mission buildings, and the fear and intimidation imposed on occupants and those who sought refuge there. Bullets shattered windows, items were damaged, teargas was used, and one Franciscan brother was so badly beaten that he was admitted to intensive care at the local hospital after being released from overnight detention.

We endorse the statement and measures called for by Fathers Tebay and Ngga, in particular, we:

  • Reject repressive means to deal with issues because such violent acts undermine the human dignity of both victims and perpetrators.
  • Affirm the right of religious and other organisations to provide asylum where necessary, based on the universal humanitarian principle that a person exposed to a life-threatening situation is to be given protection and sanctuary. (The protection provided by the religious brothers and staff was given for humanitarian not political reasons, as congress participants sought refuge from persecution and threats.)
  • Ask the Indonesian Human Rights Commission (KOMNAS HAM) to investigate the violent incidents post-congress to look at how such serious human rights abuses have occurred.
  • Support a peaceful dialogue between the Government of Indonesia and Papuan leaders to stop violence and prevent a recurrence of such acts in Papua. This is in line with the Indonesian government’s own commitment, as expressed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to deal with Papua ‘with heart’.

·         Ask for all people of goodwill and justice to support the implementation of such dialogue. ‘Because only through dialogue, issues that underpin conflicts in Papua can be identified and proper solutions can also be found without resorting to violence and bloodshed’ say Fathers Tebay and Ngga.
We are deeply concerned about the situation in Papua and the underlying tensions that impede Papuans’ access to development. We urge all parties to take immediate steps to prevent violence and enter into dialogue to resolve the serious underlying tensions.


Michael Smith, Director, Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand
Maire Leadbeater, Spokesperson for the Indonesia Human Rights Committee
Edwina Hughes, Coordinator, Peace Movement Aotearoa
Pat Jackman, President, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom Aotearoa
Judith Crimmins, President, Pax Christi Aotearoa New Zealand
Peter Hosking, Executive Director, Human Rights Foundation of Aotearoa New Zealand
Pauline McKay, National Director, Christian World Service
Leigh Cookson, Director, Arena (Action, Research and Education Network of Aotearoa). – http://www.facebook.com/notes/peace-movement-aotearoa/nz-ngo-statement-on-the-violence-around-the-third-papuan-peoples-congress-in-wes/256380261076017

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