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Around 400 students from a number of campuses took to the street on Monday asking the government to close PT Freeport Indonesia, which has big copper and gold mines in Papua.
The students, carrying banner reading “Close Freeport”, said the local people have no significant gain from the operation of the company after around 50 years in Papua.
“Close Freeport. Freeport has caused extensive damage to the environment in Papua,” one of the students said.
The students rallied in front of the citys Post Office before they moved to the city center with police on guard.
“Over the past week, there have always been people rallying in the street demanding the same thing,” Popi, a local man watching the rally said.
Earlier on Monday, a group of 50 people calling themselves Independent Traditional Community rallied around the Timika Indah Circle calling for the termination of Freeports contract in Papua.
Vinsen Oniyoma, a spokesman of the group, said the local people had never been involved and their interest had not been considered since Freeport started operation here in 1967.
The traditional rights of major tribal communities, Amungme and Kamoro over land used by Freeport, had never been respected, he said.
In addition Freeport has caused extensive damage to the environment and the ones to suffer are the local people, he said.
Last week around 300 people organised by Papua GP Ansor Papua, the Association of Indonesian Miners and the Indonesian Islam Student Movement, staged similar protest against Freeport.
The protesters expressed support for the government in the dispute and demanded that Freeport, if wanting to continue operation, it should build a smelter in Papua, pay taxes and comply with the share divestment regulation.
“Freeport should comply with the government regulation. Freeport should pay taxes, build the smelters as required by the regulation,” the spokesman of the protesters, Oktovianus Wally said.
SOURCE: ANATARA NEWS AGENCY/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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