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Statement at UNPFII: Canadian Mining in Papua New Guinea

May 27, 2009

Statement at UNPFII: Canadian Mining in Papua New Guinea


[photo: Jethro Tulin reading a statement in front of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, right before the Barrick Gold Annual General Meeting, April 29, 2009. photo by Sandra Cuffe.]

Earlier today, indigenous Ipili human rights activist Jethro Tulin, executive director of the Akali Tange Association in Porgera, Papua New Guinea, registered and read a formal statement to the plenary of the 8th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues at the UN headquarters in New York City. The statement follows below.

After the UNPFII ends this coming Friday, Jethro Tulin will be traveling to Washington DC for a series of meetings. Before returning to Papua New Guinea, he will be speaking at a series of public events in Montreal, Ottawa (tbc) and Toronto, between June 5th and June 9th.

For more general information, see ProtestBarrick.net

For more information about (or to help coordinate) events, contact: Sandra Cuffe, 514-583-6432, lavagabunda27@yahoo.es

A Statement
UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Eighth Session

Intervention by: Jethro Tulin, Executive Officer of Akali Tange Association (Porgera, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea)

Supported by: Asia Caucus, Pacific Caucus, Western Shoshone Defense Project (Nevada, USA), Peoples Earth, Society for Threatened Peoples International (ECOSOC), Indigenous Peoples Link

Item 7: Future Work of the UNPFII
New York, May 27, 2009.

Madam Chair, this is my second time at this UN forum, and today my message and recommendations are more urgent than before. In my homeland in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, the Ipili and Engan people have seen their traditions turned upside-down by the influence of a large-scale mining project. In one generation, the mine has brought militarization, corruption, and environmental devastation to a land that previously knew only subsistence farming and alluvial mining.

We therefore welcome the participants of the office of the Special Representation on Business and Human Rights in these sessions. We urge the forum and professor Ruggie to continue the dialogue. However this alone is not enough. TNC corporations are a big problem for indigenous peoples and we need a constant monitor on their actions.

Last year, I explained that mine guards and police were killing locals and raping our women; there have been five more killings and many more rapes since. Last year, I described how our food sources were threatened by mine waste dumped directly into the river system and how my people were exposed to dangerous chemicals like cyanide and mercury; today, those practices continue. Last year, I complained that the mine is directly next to our homes; and just three weeks ago, the Papua New Guinea government, motivated by reports presented by the mining company, unleashed a “State of Emergency,” a police and military operation that saw hundreds of homes of indigenous land owners surrounding the open pit mine razed to the ground.

The increasing global power and influence of trans-national companies like the Canadian Barrick Gold, managers of the Porgera mine means that they, alongside the PNG government, must be responsible for upholding human rights within their spheres of influence.

Corporations are also a threat to our environment. These mines pollute vital water sources and require an immense amount of energy to run. The Porgera mine alone produces over 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases and consumes over 7 billion gallons of water a year, which it continually dumps – polluted – into a 800 km-long river system, eventually leading to the Gulf of Papua and reaching the Great Barrier Reef. In a time of impending climate change, this environmental devastation affects us all.

We recommend that the Permanent Forum:

1. Urge the Permanent Forum to establish a regular agenda point on the issues of the private sector and to write urgently to the Government of Papua New Guinea and Barrick Gold Corporation of Canada appealing for an urgent halt to the State of Emergency and the destruction of peoples homes.

2. Endorse the recommendations put forth in the report of the expert group meeting on extractive industries, Indigenous Peoples’ rights and corporate social responsibility, which met in March 2009 in Manila, Philippines and follow up by sending the findings to corporations including Barrick Gold;

3. We recommend that the World Bank have an in depth interaction with the forum next year so we can call for activation of the World Bank 2005 Extractive Industries Review and for activation of the previous promises to address the impact and legacy of extractive industries on Indigenous Lands, territories and natural resources;

4. We ask the forum to Investigate how to set up an Indigenous arbitration system, a regulatory regime, to control the practices of the trans-national mining companies, other extractive industries, forestry and fisheries;

5. and to form an agency to evaluate the amount different Indigenous communities involuntarily subsidize the mining industry and other extractive industries through their natural resources, which are seized with minimal compensation, if any, by forms of colonialism perpetrated by trans-national companies;

Thank you.

Jethro Tulin, Akali Tange Association Inc.
Porgera Enga Province, Papua New Guinea

May 20, 2009
New York

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Canadian Miners in Papua New Guinea

On the subject of Barrick Gold's involvement in the Highlands of PNG and the recent troubles at Porgera, res[ponsibility for which has been attributed to the activities of the mine - one of the largest in the world and in a particularly remote spot on the map- the following article from Tuesday 2nd. June is relevant.-

THE NATIONAL Port Moresby 2nd.June..09

Four more Warring Clans surrender arms

FOUR warring clans in Porgera surrendered their weapons last Friday paving way for more peace in the valley.
Fights between Lorte and Kuala clans along the boundaries of Porgera station and Eno and Kakayuni clans in Lower Porgera surrendered more than 50 sophisticated weapons including a 308 rifle, two .22 shotgun, a single shoot and home-made guns.
Kuala clan leader Leo Kuala said their fight stopped five years ago and they just came to give all their guns to the police to signify that they were brothers and they would not fight again.
Mr Kuala said though the gun fight was along the boundaries of Porgera station, both clans did not touch any Government or private properties including the Porgera Primary School, Porgera Vocational Centre, public servants houses and four churches (SDA, Lutheran and Catholic) that were located in their area.
The Lorte clan leader said if they were to fight they would have done it but they received preventative order five years ago witnessed by Enga Governor Peter Ipatas, police, PJV and leaders and the community at large.
Porgera district law and order coordinator Aken Pululu, who was the master of ceremony, appreciated the initative taken by the Kakayuni and Eno clans to come for the peace ceremony because they were far away in the border of Enga, Western and East Sepik and Sandaun provinces.
He said the fight between these two were guerrilla-type in the thick jungles for more than five years.
Both fights saw more than 50 people die and some thousands of kina worth properties damaged.
Porgera station councillor Joe Kuala urged all leaders in the valley to surrender their guns to the police.
He proposed that all leaders in the valley must sign a memorandum of understanding between themselves witnessed by the Barrick Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) and Government agencies to ban guns.
The councillor said the agreement would state that if someone fired a single gun shot, leader in that area would be held responsible.
“If the leader does not explain the gun shot, he should be locked behind bars,” Mr Kuala said.
The special ceremony was witnessed by the members of the special police operations (operation Ipili), representatives from Barrick PJV, Porgera district administration, Porgera development authority, Church groups, councillors, magistrates, local leaders and more than 3,000 people from the community.
Deputy commander of the special police operations, Samson Kua thanked the leaders of the four warring clans for their willingness to give up their guns and signing the peace agreement.
He urged everyone in the valley not to buy guns because it was for the policemen and not for ordinary citizens to kill one another.
Porgera-Paiala district operations mekim save (OMS) chairman Epotane Lawaipa said his team had been working around the clock to stop these tribal fights and most of them (tribal fights) continued despite preventative order issued by his OMS magistrates.
Mr Lawaipa thanked the special police operation for making the gun surrender.
He said life was back to normal because of the operation Ipili team and he appealed to the Barrick PJV and the Government to extend it to more than two years so that people could change themselves.
Barrick PJV community affairs superintendent, Timothy Andembo, who is a local Porgeran, said there was tribal fight in the valley because there was hatred amongst them.
Mr Andembo said all these fights would stop if leaders and the people learn how to forgive their enemies from their hearts.
He said PJV would use the tax credit scheme money to maintain law and order in the valley but, most importantly, the people themselves had to change their attitudes.
The arms surrender ceremony last Friday was the third one this year as a result of the special police operations.
Last Friday’s ceremony was organised by the Porgera district administration and the Porgera Development Authority.

Porgera Mine and Barrick Gold

1. The population of the Porgera valley was numbered in hundreds, only, when gold began to be worked there in the nineteen-fifties. Since the commencement of mining people only distantly related to the traditional indigenes of Porgera have flooded in, bringing with them the turbulence and crime which make up an unstable and largely uncontrollable-( given corruption in government agencies and conditions of social management and politics throughout PNG)- resulting in ongoing conflict both among the people themselves, as well as conflict with the Mine.

2. Despite the almost fort-like electrified fences around the mine, each evening literally scores of illegal miners cross the barrier, scale the face down to the bottom of the pit, and continue digging and washing ore from their chosen spots, taking winnings back across the barriers in the morning. The illegal miners are armed, and aggressive.The company's security guards are unable to control them and as at present the illegal miners are allowed to continue their practice. This is not mentioned by the protagonists of the people in any of their speeches and papers.Because the mining and subsequent trading of this gold is illegal there is a large criminal sector which also runs black-market alcohol, illegal gaming, and prostitution; an environment in which there is continual turmoil, and turmoil which is not caused nor exacerbated by the operation of the Mine.

3. Questions of pollution and spoiling of the environment are of course legitimate, possibly quite justifiable, and the protagonists are well within their rights to keep up a barrage of questions in this area.

4. Good, unbiassed accounts of the history of mining at Porgera are available, by anthropologists who have lived among the peoople, namely Jacka, Golub and Goldman.