Jayapura, 9/2 (Jubi) – The owner of a company that occupies a gold mine in Degeuwo river, Bogobaida district, Paniai regency, Papua province has built churches, an indigenous people organization said. They alleged the company is trying to “take” indigenous people’s heart.
“Company owner Ari Haji built a church located at Baya Biru 1 and another four churches located at 99,” said Thobias Bagubau, head of the Indigenous Peoples Development Organization for Walani Mee and Moni ( LPMA SWAMEMO) in Waena on Saturday (2/8).
He said about 30 companies were competing to take over gold mines around Nabire and Paniai regencies.
“There are churches in 26 locations. They are built for native lands owners and company workers,” said Bagubau told tabloidjubi.com.
In some cases those companies have failed to sufficiently compensate landowners for the land. In some cases those companies have failed to sufficiently compensate landowners for the land. Those company also hired some police to protect their mining site and to intimidate indigenous peoples there.
The companies argued that they had spent money on building the goldmine areas including churches.
The mining sites, some believed to contain large deposits of pure gold, were bought at prices as low as 1 million rupiah, Bagubau said.
“The companies usually did not pay the amount of money asked for by communities. In one case, residents asked hundreds of millions but a company only paid about 5 millions rupiah,” he said.
Native land owners are powerless to fight for their rights because the company employ armed security personnel.
“There have been 217 cases of human rights violations recorded from the illegal operations and no single case has been handled by the government,” Bagubau said.
“I have reported four cases to the police but there has been no response,” he said without elaborating on the cases.
Markus Haluk, secretary of the General Students Association from the Central Mountains who was advocating for residents facing similar cases, criticized the government’s inaction. He said: “Dozens of cases have occurred but the government isn’t doing anything about it.”
He accused the government of colluding with the mining companies.
“The government or people in the government are taking advantage on the sacrifices of the people,” Haluk said. (Jubi / Mawel/ Tina)