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Papua Tribe Asserts Right to Sue U.S. Mining Giant Freeport McMoRan

October 13, 2010

From Joyo

The Jakarta Globe
October 12, 2010

Papua Tribe Asserts Right to Sue Mining Giant

by Fidelis E Satriastanti

A Papuan tribe fighting over its customary rights to land in
court against US mining giant Freeport McMoRan on Monday
dismissed an intervention lawsuit filed by several clans in the
tribe as invalid.

Papua’s Amungme tribe in March filed a lawsuit at the South
Jakarta District Court against the miner’s local unit, Freeport
Indonesia, the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources and the
Papua governor, demanding that Freeport pay $2.5 billion in
material damages and $30 billion in non-material damages for the
2.6 million hectares of tribal land used by the mine in Timika,
Mimika district.

The tribe claims the land was illegally acquired.

However, on June 22, a group of 30 members drawn from other
clans within the tribe — the Omaleng, Bukaleng, Beanal, Omabak,
and Jamang — filed an intervention lawsuit which stated that
they were opposed to the initial legal action.

“Their [intervention] lawsuit was intended to block our legal
process but this lawsuit actually has no basis because only the
rightful owner of the customary lands that we are fighting for
now belong to the Natkime clan,” said Titus Natkime, the clan’s
representative, adding that the lawsuit against the company was
for areas located in the Grasberg mountains and the Tembagapura
subdistrict.

“The other clans, as far as I know, have been very supportive of
the lawsuit,” he said. “They [the other clans] are also against
the company because they felt the negative impacts of the waste
management and there is no welfare for them.”

However, he added, the lawsuit for compensation over customary
lands can only be filed by the Natkime clan because they owned
the lands.

“They are welcome to support the action but they have no rights
to file compensation claims because it’s not their lands,” he
said.

Martinus Natkime, one of 30 signatories, said he had been
tricked to sign as he was told the new lawsuit was over human
rights and environmental degradation.

“We were told by Markus [Bugaleng, coordinator of signature
collection], that we were going to file a lawsuit against the
company over environmental degradation, waste management,
human rights, customary lands, human resources and the issue
of getting 1 percent of the company’s gross income,” he said,
adding that instead, the signatures were used to counter Titus’s
lawsuit.

Titus said that five clan elders have already signed a statement
to be presented in court today, stating that they were tricked
to sign the lawsuit and that they fully supported the tribe’s
case.

WEST PAPUA ACTION NETWORKWeb site: http://www.wpaction.org
Facebook: http://www.causes.com/wpan

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