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BP under pressure over LNG investment in Indonesian ‘colony’ of West Papua



LNG Tangguh di Teluk Bintuni – IST

Jayapura, Jubi – Last year BP announced a massive new investment in a Liquefied Natural Gas facility in the Indonesian province of West Papua, which it claimed would create 10,000 new jobs. But supporters of West Papuan independence say it legitimizes Indonesian occupation.

BP has a checkered past when it comes to oil and gas exploration and now it is being accused of putting its foot in it again with an investment in Indonesia.

In 2016, a US judge approved an estimated US$20 billion settlement by BP Oil over the catastrophic 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill of hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

And in 2006, BP agreed an out of-court settlement with a group of Colombian farmers who had demanded US$28 million in compensation. They claimed the Ocensa pipeline in Colombia was a health risk and claimed paramilitary groups had threatened them for opposing the pipeline, although it was never alleged the paramilitaries were linked to BP.

Now the British company is embroiled in a new dispute in West Papua, a territory which became part of Indonesia in controversial circumstances in 1969.

Connor Woodman, a researcher with the Politics of Papua Project at the University of Warwick, told Sputnik that Indonesia took over the former Dutch colony after a bogus referendum.

“It was called the Act of Free Choice, although West Papuans call it the Act of No Choice. The Indonesian military handpicked 1,026 West Papuans who were bribed, cajoled and threatened into voting unanimously for what was Dutch New Guinea to join Indonesia,” Mr. Woodman told Sputnik.

In the intervening decades tens of thousands of Indonesian peasants from other parts of the archipelago were encouraged to settle in West Papua and they may now outnumber the indigenous population.

Indonesia has been accused of widespread human rights abuses in the territory, which forms the western half of the island of New Guinea. The eastern half is the independent state of Papua New Guinea, whose people are kinfolk of the West Papuans.

“There is a paucity of information about the situation on the ground. But 100,000 Papuans have died. There is rampant torture. NGOs and the media are banned and it is even illegal to fly the West Papuan flag,” Mr. Woodman told Sputnik.

The territory sits on vast and largely unexploited mineral resources, which explains why Indonesia is so keen not to give it up.

The Grasberg mine, operated by Freeport, is the world’s largest gold mine and the third largest copper mine in the world.

It is into this tumult that BP has stepped.

In 2016, BP announced they had decided to invest in the Tangguh Expansion Project, which will lead to the exploitation of 14.4 trillion cubic feet of LNG.

Most will be sold to the Indonesian electricity company PT PLN but some will also be supplied to the Kansai Electric Power Company from Japan.

“West Papua has become what Naomi Klein calls a ‘sacrifice zone’, a subset of humanity categorized as less than fully human, their poisoning in the name of progress somehow acceptable,” Mr. Woodman said.

“BP has been pretty successful at monopolizing the narrative on Tangguh. They have set up an independent advisory panel. It is questionable how independent it is but there is no doubt their record is better than Freeport.

“They did not want to repeat the PR disaster they had in Colombia so they have been careful about their security arrangements, although they are still collaborating with the Indonesian military,” said Mr. Woodman.

“LNG is less damaging than open cast mining so you won’t find the same level of concern from environmentalists.”

He said many West Papuans have been moved off their land and there are jealousies between those villages who BP have compensated and those they have not.

“But the fundamental problem with it is that it further ties the Indonesian regime into its control of West Papua. Having BP in there does lend legitimacy to Indonesian sovereignty and that is the number one issue for West Papuans,” Mr. Woodman told Sputnik.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has been demanding a fresh referendum on self-determination but so far, apart from Vanuatu and a handful of other tiny Pacific nations, no other government has supported the idea.

BP points out that it has committed to ensuring 85 percent of the skilled workforce at Tangguh are Papuan by 2029.

The firm’s Regional President Asia Pacific, Christina Verchere, said last year: “This final investment decision marks the culmination of many years of hard work by BP, our partners and the Indonesian government.”(*)


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Editor    : Zely Ariane


Women protest the electricity cut off




Indigenous women traders who barred the road in front of the market due to the electricity cut off by PLN. – Jubi / IST

Jayapura, Jubi – Dozens of indigenous women who are selling local products at the traditional market ‘Pasar Mama-Mama Papua’ blocked the road in front of the market on Friday afternoon (8/10/2018) to protest the National Electricity Company (PLN) for cutting off the electricity at the market for several hours due to late payment for the last four months amounted to Rp 60 million.

The coordinator for the Solidarity for indigenous Papuan traders (Solpap) Franky Warer said it just happened spontaneously because of their disappointment. “The electricity was cut off at around 11.00 Papua time when I was still at home, then someone called me. I then went to the market and called the mayor,” Warer told Jubi by phone on Friday evening (08/10/18).

After that, he said, the Municipal Government agreed to contact the PLN and the electricity in the market turned normal at around 18:00 Papua time.

Meanwhile, the Papuan legislator John NR Gobai commented that relevant parties should pay attention to this matter for not outsizing the traders. “This market is managed under the Trade and Industry Office of Jayapura Municipal Government. So the agency needs to find a solution immediately,” he said. (*)


Reporter: Arjuna Pademme

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Arts & Culture

Soedarmo: Papuan Coffee promoted in Boston and Paris




The atmosphere of Papua Coffee Festival – Jubi / Alexander Loen

Jayapura, Jubi – Acting Papua Governor Soedarmo said Provincial Government is going to promote Papuan coffee to Boston and Paris shortly.

He revealed this agenda to reporters when opened the Papua Coffee Festival held in the parking of Bank Indonesia. Banks, local entrepreneurs and coffee farmers participated in this event.

“So, we are not only promoting Papuan coffee domestically but also abroad. Through our partner, we will participate in a coffee exhibition in Boston, whereas in September, I am going to send a team to participate in the exhibition held at the Eiffel Tower,” said Soedarmo on Friday (08/03/2018) in Jayapura.

According to him, the taste of Papuan coffee is not less delicious compared to coffee from other Indonesian regions or even other countries, because he has compared it with others. “I have met with the former Colombian Ambassador; then we compared Papuan coffee with Colombian coffee. But Papuan coffee is still better,” he said.

In the same place, Jayapura Mayor Benhur Tommy Mano claimed the municipal government is ready to support the provincial government in developing local commodities by promoting the local food in every event held by the municipal government.

“Indeed, we are not growing coffee here in Jayapura Municipality, but we are the biggest coffee connoisseurs,” Mano said. (*)


Reporter: Alexander Loen

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Freeport and Indonesian Government are unfair to Papuans




A meeting between religious, youth and customary leaders and former workers of PT Freeport Indonesia conducted in Jayapura. -Jubi / Doc

Jayapura, Jubi – Coordinator of the United Organization against Violence, Peneas Lokbere, accused the US company-based PT Freeport and the Indonesian Government have been racist to Papuans.

According to him, it reflects from the history of the first contract of work between the company and the Indonesian authority in 1967 to the contract extension in 2018 that excluded the participation of Papuans.

“Papuans never have an idea about the content of the agreement. The Government of Indonesia considered them as second citizens, and this is discrimination,” said Lokbere on Thursday (26/07/2018) in Abepura.

Meanwhile, Samuel Tabuni, the Chairman of Papuan Community Forum on Freeport, said Jakarta (the central government) might be proud of taking over the 51 per cent share of PT Freeport, and the provincial might get a 10% share, but he warned about the indigenous rights.

“Since 1967, the indigenous peoples who have tenure rights of the land have never involved in regulating the ownership of shares in the mining company,” said Tabuni on Wednesday (25/07/2018) in Jayapura. (*)


Reporter: Benny Mawel

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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