Papuan radicals behind Freeport attacks

Reuters reported that Separatists in Indonesia’s politically sensitive Papua province were behind deadly attacks in 2009 on workers near a mine run by a unit of Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.

A secessionist movement has smouldered for decades in Papua in the far east of the Indonesian archipelago. In recent months, unidentified gunmen launched a series of attacks on vehicles traveling to Freeport’s Grasberg copper and gold mine near Timika, wounding more than 20 people and killing 2.

The attacks have not disrupted production at the mine which accounts for nearly 40% of Freeport’s total copper reserves and boasts the world’s largest gold reserves.

The International Crisis Group report said that the culprits were likely to be elements of the Free Papua Movement who may have believed that attacks would lead to the mine’s closure.

The report, titled Radicalization and Dialogue in Papua, said that some elements of OPM and the National Committee for West Papua were becoming increasingly militant.

The report said that they decided there was no longer any hope of achieving their main objective a referendum on independence through peaceful means and led some to advocate violence and in some cases directly participate in violent acts.

The ICG report recommended broadening talks between Jakarta and Papuan leaders to address grievances related to political, historical as well as economic issues.

Mr Sidney Jones senior adviser to Crisis Group’s Asia program said that “A dialogue, if carefully prepared, offers the possibility of addressing longstanding grievances without calling Indonesian sovereignty into question.”

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