Senin, 09 Januari 2012

Violence returns as Two Freeport Contractors

Violence returns as two Freeport contractors  

As employees of miner PT Freeport Indonesia returned to work after their three-month strike, two men working for a contractor for the company were killed on Monday. The van they were driving was set on fire with the bodies inside.

The bodies of the two workers, identified as Thomas Bagiarsa and Masyun Simopiaref, were found in a Freeport area called Mile 51, which is located near Timika, Papua, 
according to police reports. 

The two were working for PT Kuala Pelabuhan Indonesia (KPI), a contractor for the local unit of US gold and copper giant Freeport McMoRan. 

Papua Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Wachyono said the incident, which took place at 9:00 a.m. local time, was still under investigation. 

“The bodies were badly burnt. We’ve evacuated them to [Freeport’s] Kuala Kencana clinic,” said Wachyono. 

Freeport spokesman Ramdani Sirait confirmed the incident and said there were signs of gunshots on the exterior of the victims’ van. 

“Freeport security personnel and the police are still investigating the shooting,” he said. 

A similar incident occurred on April 7, 2011, when unidentified gunmen fatally shot Freeport workers Max Mansawan and Harry Siregar near Timika, the closest town to Freeport’s Grasberg mine. The gunmen also set the workers’ van ablaze with the victims inside. 

Shootings around the Freeport site have intensified since April last year, with more than 12 people dead. 

The police have yet to identify the perpetrators of the killings, stirring speculation that some elements within the police and the military (TNI) may be creating instability in the country’s easternmost province, which has long been plagued by poverty amid abundant mineral resources. The police and the TNI have repeatedly denied any involvement in the violence. 

The violence escalated after Freeport’s workers staged a strike last September demanding higher pay. Between October and late November there were at least eight fatal incidents. 

Production at the Grasberg mine has been crippled since 8,000 workers walked off the job.

The workers ended their strike on Dec. 26 following the company’s agreement to raise their salaries by 39 percent. 

However, the return to work was delayed because KPI wanted to impose sanctions on around 500 employees who had joined the strike. 

KPI had formerly agreed not to take any action against them but subsequently several other contractors and subcontractors also refused to rehire former strikers.

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