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Jumat, 23 Oktober 2009

Employee’s wives protest over safety

Signs of insecurity: Hundreds of PT Freeport employees’ wives stage a demonstration at Mimika regency legislative council on Thursday, demanding better security for their husbands. Cases of violence at the giant gold and copper mining area have been on the rise, with unidentified assailants attacking motorcades carrying Freeport employees several times this month.

The wives and children of PT Freeport Indonesia employees rallied at the Mimika legislative council office in Papua on Thursday, demanding the giant US-based gold and copper company ensure the safety of their husbands.

Around 400 housewives and children also went to the Gorong-Gorong departure terminal to persuade their husbands not to go to work, fearful of the risks at the mine site following a series of shooting incidents by gunmen over the past four months.

At 6 a.m. local time, the protesters addressed the crowd at the Gorong-Gorong terminal to discourage their husbands from going to work until the company ensures their safety.

After talks, Freeport representative John Rumainum said he would convey their demands to the company management.

Disappointed with the response, the women marched 3 kilometers from the Gorong-Gorong terminal to the Mimika legislative office on Jl. Cenderawasih in Timika, where they were greeted by councilor Yan Anton Yoteni.

Protest leader Elisabeth Rumere told the council that PT Freeport and security forces must seek a way to stop the attacks by unexplained gunmen.

“Our husbands cannot work peacefully because their lives are at risk. And we cannot sleep due to worries about our husbands’ safety,” she said.

Rumere said some of their husbands’ colleagues had fallen victim to the shootings.

“We demand the thousands of workers in Tembagapura be temporarily evacuated to Timika until
the company ensures their safety,” she said.

“If the government cannot handle the issue, we, the wives of the Freeport workers, together with security personnel, will chase after the perpetrators,” Anastasia Tekege, another protester, said.

Freeport said it had paid US$9 million in “support costs” to the Indonesian military and police in 2007 to protect its operations.

Councilor Yoteni said as a number of councilors were out of town, he could not make a decision.

“But we will coordinate with PT Freeport management, SPSI [the company’s labor union] and security forces in Mimika. The legislature is aware the housewives are very upset about the shootings. We held a meeting with community figures, the local administration and security forces a few months ago, but the shootings have continued,” said Yoteni.

Tekege said the shootings were part of a “conspiracy by parties with vested interests” because the incidents always took place inside the Freeport mining area.

She suspected negligence on the part of security forces in failing to disclose the attackers and said they should be honest about the incidents.

“This is a global issue, but all parties are keeping quiet. I urge President Yudhoyono to respond seriously to the issue and to visit Timika if deemed necessary,” she said.

“Many civilians have been arrested, but the shootings continue. If the authorities are unable to stop them, then the housewives of Timika and PT Freeport employees’ wives will join the manhunt in the jungle, catch the perpetrators and reveal the masterminds

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