Jayapura, Jubi – Last year BP announced a massive new investment in a Liquefied Natural Gas facility in the Indonesian province of West Papua, which it claimed would create 10,000 new jobs. But supporters of West Papuan independence say it legitimizes Indonesian occupation.
BP has a checkered past when it comes to oil and gas exploration and now it is being accused of putting its foot in it again with an investment in Indonesia.
In 2016, a US judge approved an estimated US$20 billion settlement by BP Oil over the catastrophic 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill of hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico.
And in 2006, BP agreed an out of-court settlement with a group of Colombian farmers who had demanded US$28 million in compensation. They claimed the Ocensa pipeline in Colombia was a health risk and claimed paramilitary groups had threatened them for opposing the pipeline, although it was never alleged the paramilitaries were linked to BP.
Now the British company is embroiled in a new dispute in West Papua, a territory which became part of Indonesia in controversial circumstances in 1969.
Connor Woodman, a researcher with the Politics of Papua Project at the University of Warwick, told Sputnik that Indonesia took over the former Dutch colony after a bogus referendum.
“It was called the Act of Free Choice, although West Papuans call it the Act of No Choice. The Indonesian military handpicked 1,026 West Papuans who were bribed, cajoled and threatened into voting unanimously for what was Dutch New Guinea to join Indonesia,” Mr. Woodman told Sputnik.
In the intervening decades tens of thousands of Indonesian peasants from other parts of the archipelago were encouraged to settle in West Papua and they may now outnumber the indigenous population.
Indonesia has been accused of widespread human rights abuses in the territory, which forms the western half of the island of New Guinea. The eastern half is the independent state of Papua New Guinea, whose people are kinfolk of the West Papuans.
“There is a paucity of information about the situation on the ground. But 100,000 Papuans have died. There is rampant torture. NGOs and the media are banned and it is even illegal to fly the West Papuan flag,” Mr. Woodman told Sputnik.
The territory sits on vast and largely unexploited mineral resources, which explains why Indonesia is so keen not to give it up.
The Grasberg mine, operated by Freeport, is the world’s largest gold mine and the third largest copper mine in the world.
It is into this tumult that BP has stepped.
In 2016, BP announced they had decided to invest in the Tangguh Expansion Project, which will lead to the exploitation of 14.4 trillion cubic feet of LNG.
Most will be sold to the Indonesian electricity company PT PLN but some will also be supplied to the Kansai Electric Power Company from Japan.
“West Papua has become what Naomi Klein calls a ‘sacrifice zone’, a subset of humanity categorized as less than fully human, their poisoning in the name of progress somehow acceptable,” Mr. Woodman said.
“BP has been pretty successful at monopolizing the narrative on Tangguh. They have set up an independent advisory panel. It is questionable how independent it is but there is no doubt their record is better than Freeport.
“They did not want to repeat the PR disaster they had in Colombia so they have been careful about their security arrangements, although they are still collaborating with the Indonesian military,” said Mr. Woodman.
“LNG is less damaging than open cast mining so you won’t find the same level of concern from environmentalists.”
He said many West Papuans have been moved off their land and there are jealousies between those villages who BP have compensated and those they have not.
“But the fundamental problem with it is that it further ties the Indonesian regime into its control of West Papua. Having BP in there does lend legitimacy to Indonesian sovereignty and that is the number one issue for West Papuans,” Mr. Woodman told Sputnik.
The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has been demanding a fresh referendum on self-determination but so far, apart from Vanuatu and a handful of other tiny Pacific nations, no other government has supported the idea.
BP points out that it has committed to ensuring 85 percent of the skilled workforce at Tangguh are Papuan by 2029.
The firm’s Regional President Asia Pacific, Christina Verchere, said last year: “This final investment decision marks the culmination of many years of hard work by BP, our partners and the Indonesian government.”(*)
Source : sputniknews.com
Editor : Zely Ariane
MRP traces the chronology of the dismissal of thousands of employees of PT Kodeko Papua
Jayapura, Jubi – The working group for the indigenous issue of Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP) meet with the representatives of PT Kodeko Papua’s ex-workers in Serui, Yapen Islands Regency, Papua on Monday (24/2/2020). In the meeting, the working group take not on the chronology of the dismissal of 1,435 employees of PT Kodeko Papua in 2004.
The working group chairman Demas Tokoro through MRP public relations says the meeting between the working group and workers’ representative occurred on Monday is the second meeting. “Today is our second meeting, while we had the first on 13 February,” he said.
According to him, in the first meeting, the workers’ representatives talked about the severance allowance should be paid to the workers after the termination in 2004. Meanwhile, the second meeting is focusing on learning the chronology of the dismissal.
Tokoro says that during 14 years, 1,435 ex-workers are still waiting for the company to pay their salary and severance allowance. “They tell about their long efforts in fighting their rights as ex-workers,” says Tokoro.
Meanwhile, an ex-worker Costan Podayar said PT Kodeka Papua was a plywood company founded in 1995 and began its operation since 1997.
“In 2002, the situation changed and it claimed bankruptcy in 2004. The employees have been made redundant without receiving severance allowance. As a consequence, the company’s assets become a warrant to pay severance to its ex-workers,” said Pondayar as cited from MRP public relations.
In 2006, the workers sued the management of PT Kodeko Papua to the Tangerang District Court with a demand that the company must pay the salary and severance allowance of 1,435 ex-workers. “The Court won our lawsuit in 2006,” said Pondayar.
At that time, he says that the Court instruct those who took over the assets of PT Kodeko Papua must pay the rights of ex-workers. But, in reality, PT Sinar Wijaya who continue the operation has not paid the severance allowance to the ex-workers.
“As the ex-workers, we did not know how can PT Sinar Wijaya take over the operation because there was no announcement to us,” says Pondayar.
PT Sinar Wijaya has paid the amount of money to the ex-workers, but the payment was less than the amount that the ex-workers should receive.
“The local government has facilitated the meeting between us and the management of PT Sinar Wijaya at Kampung Awunawai Office. They paid the amount of money for us but did not give us time to read the letter that we should sign. They said it was because there were many employees in queueing to sign,” said Pondayar.
Later on, the ex-workers realised that the amount of money they received is smaller than it should. “The Court’s decision said that I had to receive IDR 32 million, but I only received IDR 15 million,” says Pondayar.
Meanwhile, Demas Tokoro said his working group would implement the mechanism by MRP to bring both representatives of ex-workers PT Kodeko Papua with the local government and the management of PT Sinar Wijaya. The working groups of women and religious issues of MRP will also attend this meeting.
“We will conduct a joint visit consisting of MRP, indigenous, religious and women’s working groups. We hope people will support us,” says Tokoro. (*)
Reporter: Benny Mawel
Editor: Pipit Maizier
Government introduces Papua’s business potential to 45 investors
Sorong, Jubi – The Indonesian government in association with Yayasan Inisiatif Dagang Hijau (Green Trade Initiative Foundation) took a total of 45 foreign investors to witness firsthand the business potential in the country’s eastern provinces of Papua and West Papua.
The foreign investors met with young businessmen from Papua during a high-level meeting on green investment in Sorong, West Papua, on Thursday.
Also present at the meeting were Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan; Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo; Head of the Investment Coordinating Board, Bahlil Lahadalia, and Vice Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Angela Tanoesoedibjo, to support the Papuan businessmen to move forward.
Panjaitan said the concept of green investment or environmentally friendly investment is one of the models of sustainable development in the provinces of Papua and West Papua.
The concept of green investment is aimed at encouraging small-scale investment to promote the agricultural and fisheries sectors in the two provinces, he said.
The presence of foreign investors will encourage the export of agricultural and fishery commodities including nutmeg, cacao beans, seaweed, and other key commodities from the two provinces, he said.
The minister further asked the Papua and West Papua provincial governments to work hard and cooperate with all sectors to develop the potential in the province as part of efforts to promote the economy of the locals. (*)
Papua High Prosecutors Office investigates corruption allegation in Bank Papua
Jayapura, Friday – Papua High Prosecutors Office and Nabire District Prosecutors Office are currently investigating corruption allegation in Bank Papua Branch Paniai in Enarotali, the capital of Paniai Regency, Papua. This allegation associated with the prior case of loan distribution of IDR 281 billion for creditors.
This investigation was confirmed by the Assistant of Special Crime of the Papua High Prosecutors Office Alexander Sinuraya to Antara News Agency in Jayapura on Friday (31/1/2020).
“This case is currently under the investigation of Nabire District Prosecutors Office who in charge for Paniai Regency and prosecutors from Papua High Prosecutors Office will assist the investigation,” he said.
According to him, so far there is no suspect named in this allegation. “Hopefully the investigation becomes more in-depth shortly,” he said.
Separately, the Business Director of Bank Papua Sadar Sebayang admits the bad loan case of IDR 281 billion in Bank Papua.
“The case that happened in 2016 is currently under the investigation of Papua High Prosecutors Office,” Sebayang confirmed.
According to him, Bank Papua had penalised the employees involved in this case, including dismissal. Sebayang also said that non-performing loan creditors had paid their instalments up to IDR 185 billion including bank interest. However, he said Bank Papua is supportive of this legal conduct by these two prosecutors offices.
“BPD Papua fully supports the current legal process conducted by Papua High Prosecutors Office,” said Sebayang. (*)
Reporter: Aryo Wisanggeni G
Editor: Pipit Maizier
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