Clinton Told: What About Freeport?

By webadmin on 10:44 am Nov 14, 2011
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Markus Junianto Sihaloho

The United States needs to get its own house in order before it can criticize Indonesia on rights abuses, a lawmaker said on Sunday.

Eva Kusuma Sundari, from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said American business practices were partly to blame for the problems in Papua.

“I want to ask the United States to put some order into the business practices of Freeport, so that it does not engage in discrimination,” Eva said, referring to the US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, which operates the Grasberg gold and copper mine in Papua.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking in Hawaii on the sidelines of the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, voiced her concerns about the mounting violence in Papua and human rights violations there.

Eva said US firms needed to make sure they did take advantage of corrupt local officials and weak law enforcement in places like Papua.

Instead of criticizing Indonesia, she said, Washington should crack down on American companies breaking the law here.

Eva said Freeport Indonesia, the local unit of the American miner, may have broken US laws and regulations on bribery.

Freeport Indonesia has acknowledged paying Indonesian police for maintaining security at its Grasberg mine.

The issue has sparked indignation here, with critics saying the police should not accept money from companies.

“There is now some momentum for the United States to act justly after staying silent for so long as Papua has been exploited by Freeport,” Eva said.

Presidential spokesman Teuku Faizasyah has dismissed allegations of human rights violations in Papua.

“As far as the politics of Papua go, we’ve already made it clear that there are no systemic human rights violations in Papua,” the spokesman said. “There are only isolated incidents. They are not the norm.”

Freeport Indonesia, the largest taxpayer in the country, has been mining the area for more than 30 years. Its Grasberg mine has been crippled by a strike since Sept. 15, with workers demanding better pay.

Clinton is set to arrive in Bali with US President Barack Obama for the East Asia Summit later this week.

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