Legislator raises concern about mining workers’ safety

Legislator raises concern about mining workers’ safety


12 May 2010

A legislator has raised concern over pressure experienced by workers worried about their safety following a series of shootings around PT Freeport Indonesia’s mining site in the resource-rich Papua province.

Head of the House of Representatives Commission IX overseeing health, Ribka Tjiptaning, said the safety concern was raised by the workers despite tight security at the mining complex.

“The commission is to hold a joint meeting with related parties in Jakarta to seek a solution to the problem,” Ribka told reporters in Timika, the capital of Mimika, late Monday during the
commission’s two-day official trip to the regency.

She also stated that all shooting incidents near Freeport’s working sites should be thoroughly investigated.

Currently, she said, there had been no follow-up investigations on the shooting.

“It is not clear who is responsible for all those shooting incidents, the alleged OPM [Free Papua Movement] or the security personnel,” said Ribka.

One of the incidents occurred on Jan. 24 in Freeport’s vicinity in Timika. At that time, it was the fourth shooting incident in the last seven months.

No one was killed in the incident, but the blame game has continued.

The pro-independence Presi-dium of the Papuan Council (PDP) and the West Papuan National Authority (WPNA) have been quick to blame the continued aggravation on the Indonesian Military’s (TNI) use of a “military intelligence” approach to handling problems in the province.

Ribka said the House commission visited Mimika and the mining site to meet and conduct a dialogue with the company’s workers, who had recently reported fears about their safety at work to the commission.

During the visit, she said, the commission observed the condition of the Gorong-Gorong bus station from which the laborers were usually transported to the mining site, as well as visiting workers at Mile 50 and Tembagapura.

Ribka said the workers were uncomfortable with their transportation from Timika to Tembagapura because of the intense security measures after the shootings.

Ribka said many of the workers had expressed concern about their safety and the tight security surveillance.

“They want normal security measures, meaning that there is no one guarding them on the way to their work sites,” she said.

A member of the commission, Subagyo Partodiharjo of the Democratic Party, described the condition along the access road to Freeport’s working site as “tense” with the presence of the fully armed security personnel along the road.

He said that such security measures could be psychologically damaging, accounting for why the workers wanted procedures to be restored to normal.

“The workers need peace as they are going to work and coming home,” Subagyo said.