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Reuters: Freeport Indonesia Miners, Tribesmen Defend Road Blockades +update: Human Rights Group Details Police Brutality at Papua Rally

November 4, 2011

Reuters
November 4, 2011

Freeport Indonesia Miners, Tribesmen Defend Road Blockades

Timika, Papua

Police failed to lift road blockades stopping fuel and food reaching
Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold’s mining operations in Indonesia’s
Papua region, after clashes with striking miners and local tribesmen
on Friday.

Miners have been striking at Grasberg, the world’s second-biggest
copper mine, since mid-September, disrupting output and stopping
shipments. Violence has escalated in recent weeks with sabotage to
pipelines and deadly attacks on employees.

Angry workers and people from seven local tribes are blocking the main
road near an airport in Timika that links Freeport’s port to the
Grasberg mine, and refused to shift after police gave them a deadline
to move by Tuesday.

“People fought back. The police gave several warning shots but they
have left now,” said a striking worker, adding there were no
casualties reported. “The tribes have conducted war ceremonies. They
are ready to die for this.”

The worker dispute over pay has drawn in local tribes, armed with
spears and arrows, who have their own grievances over land rights,
pollution and a lack of apparent benefit for the region from its
resource wealth.

The police and army have been criticized for human rights violations
in the remote mountainous region, where a separatist movement has
simmered for decades, while Freeport has come under fire for payments
to authorities for security.

The blockades are part of a prolonged strike by around 12,000 of the
mine’s 23,000 workers. The company has offered a 30 percent pay rise
but the union is holding out for a fivefold increase.

Freeport said on Tuesday production and processing rates at Grasberg
had fallen below levels needed to meet fourth-quarter sales targets.

It also said it could take a month to fix its main sabotage-hit
pipeline to take concentrate to its port where there are no stockpiles
left for shipping. On Oct. 26, Freeport Indonesia declared force
majeure on affected concentrate sales.

The energy ministry said on Thursday that Freeport Indonesia was now
producing at 5 percent of its full capacity due to damage in the
pipeline.

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