Arrests and food blockade at Aurora mine sites

Down to Earth No. 45, May 2000

Heavily armed police arrested eleven villagers on March 14th at Aurora Gold's Serjuan mine site in Central Kalimantan. According to an Indonesian NGO report, the villagers - including three children aged between 10 and 12 years - were taken at gun-point into company vehicles and driven to the company's camp. Nine of them, including the children, were then transferred to the North Barito police headquarters at Muara Teweh. Five more were freed following demands for their release from fellow villagers.

The site is one of those reoccupied by local villagers who mined the area using traditional methods before PT Indo Muro Kencana mine was opened. The reoccupations, which started last year, are the latest confrontational stage in a long-running dispute over land and resource rights. Previous demands for compensation and the restoration of mining rights were ignored by the company. (See DTE 43 for more background.)

The Mining Advocacy Network (JATAM), which reported the arrests, also said that police and military roadblocks had been set up to prevent food supplies from reaching another Aurora mine site, Luit Raya, which had been reoccupied by around 500 people. The police were assisted by community members 'organised' by the company.

PT IMK is 90% owned by Australia's Aurora Gold. The mine started production in 1994 and last year exported about 1.4 tonnes of gold. The company's concessions affects the land of more than 20,000 people in twelve villages.

(Source: JATAM Action Alert 15/Mar/00 and updates; Kalteng Pos, 15/Mar/00)