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PORGERA IN FLAMES: Barrick-Recommended Military Force burns down hundreds of homes in PNG
by Sakura Saunders and Tanya Roberts-Davis (sakura.saunders (at) gmail.com)
Thursday Apr 30th, 2009 5:09 PM
Hundreds of homes in the Porgera valley of Papua New Guinea are being set aflame. Local human rights organizations in Porgera claim that these fires are part of a strategy to clear people out of the way for the expansion of Barrick Gold's Porgera mine.
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On April 27th, without prior warning, the indigenous land owners of the villages surrounding Barrick Gold’s Porgera open pit mine were violently evicted by a police and military operation with 200 troops. “Operation Ipili” was launched during the middle of the day to allegedly make way for the expansion of a Barrick gold mine. This effective State of Emergency in Porgera was motivated by situation reports presented by Barrick (PNG) Limited, according to Laigap Porgera Member of Parliament Phillip Kikala.

Households of third generation landowners were purposefully razed to the ground, causing residents to flee for fear of their lives. According to eyewitnesses, eighty houses in Ungima, two houses in Yokolama and four houses in Kulapi had been torched within the first 2 days of the operation. By April 30, community reports put that number at close to 600.

According to the Akali Tange Association, a human rights organization in Porgera, none of the residents were given time to gather any of their possessions. Anyone who spoke up was reportedly physically attacked by the security forces and some were arrested.

Increasing numbers of people are reporting injuries, as are those who are being detained. Although the landowners received no formal warning that they were to see their houses destroyed – according to the ATA – Barrick Gold had demanded that the land be cleared of local villagers, some of whom are small scale artisanal miners eking out a living beside the mine.

Barrick Gold’s personnel claim the land owners are ‘illegal’ and last week, issued a memorandum calling on them to stop their subsistence activities and leave their homelands. The chief landowner, Nixon Mangape, recently alerted their local Member of Parliament as well as media outlets about the impending threats from the mining company. To date, there has been no acknowledgement that villagers have been demanding compensation from Barrick if the confiscation of their land was to move forward, given their resulting loss of livelihood, possessions and ancestral territory. Now, these communities are suffering from brutal attacks by security agents and faced with the situation that their homes – with all their possessions – have been burned to the ground, in clear violation of national and international legal precedents.

Jethro Tulin, Executive Officer of ATA traveled to Canada this week – along with other international affected communities – to tell shareholders at Barrick Gold's annual general meeting about the on-going human rights crisis in Porgera. As Mr. Tulin traveled to Canada to attend Barrick's AGM, the Papua New Guinea government sent 200 heavily armed troops to the Porgera area. He has since been receiving regular updates about landowner's houses being searched for incriminating materials and burnt to the ground.

"Barrick Gold and the Government of Papua New Guinea must immediately start to address the catastrophic problem in Porgera pro-actively rather than over reacting with high level security installations and branding it as a law and order problem. Calling a State of Emergency is not the right method to fix these extensive and irreversible damages, the ordinary people are already victims of what as gone wrong."

Last year the Norwegian Pension Fund divested $230 million CAD from Barrick Gold for ethical concerns related to the Porgera Mine.
§photos provided by the Akali Tange Association, PNG.
by Sakura Saunders Thursday Apr 30th, 2009 5:09 PM
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by Sakura Saunders Thursday Apr 30th, 2009 5:09 PM
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Comments  (Hide Comments)

by Terrorize the terrorists!
Saturday May 2nd, 2009 5:48 AM
  • The executives of Barrick Gold have names and, presumably, addresses.
     
  • The homes and physical bodies of these seven white men are just as vulnerable as are those of the people of Porgera.
     
  • If there were a credible threat that a house for a house and an eye for an eye might be put into practice, the executives of Barrick Gold might decide to live up to their claim that they act in "a socially responsible manner", hopefully before such a threat became a reality.
by mekamui dreamer
Sunday May 3rd, 2009 2:40 PM
MP calls for SoE in Porgera

By HARLYNE JOKU

LAGAIP-Porgera MP Phillip Kikala is calling for the NEC meeting in Wabag to impose a state of emergency in Porgera.
Mr Kikala who is also Vice Minister for Planning said at a press conference yesterday he was expecting a submission, backed by
the Police Minister on the law and order situation in Porgera, is deliberated on by Cabinet when it meets in Wabag next
Thursday.
He hoped Cabinet would agree to impose a state of emergency in Porgera due to the rise in lawlessness there.
Despite Enga Governor Peter Ipatas’ calls not to send a senior ministerial team to Porgera district, Mr Kikala said he was
going ahead with his program to take the Deputy Prime Minister Dr Puka Temu and senior ministers to Porgera next Tuesday to see
and learn first hand the law and order situation there.
He said the purpose of the planned ministerial trip was necessary due to the increase in law and order situation in Porgera and
wider community’s cry for government help.
He added the plea for help had come from situation reports presented to him by Barrick (PNG) Limited, the operator of the rich
Porgera mine, police personnel on ground, district administrator, Porgera Development Authority and the Paiela Local Level
Government Councils and the community at large,” Mr Kikala said.
“I have been to Porgera district on numerous occasions and have witnessed myself the problems of law and order thus I asked the
Police Minister Sani Rambi to accompany me on two occasions and the minister is backing me now for immediate declaration of a
State of Emergency in the electorate,” Mr Kikala said.
Mr Kikala claimed the Enga Provincial Government had overlooked the law and order situation in Porgera for the past 10 years.
He urged Mr Ipatas to support his initiative.
by segment of as it happens
Monday May 4th, 2009 1:21 PM
Copy the code below to embed this movie into a web page:
This is a segment of the CBC radio show "As it Happens" which featured Jethro Tulin of the Akali Tange Association in PNG.