Porgera SML Landowners Association (PLOA) is a duly incorporated organization under the laws of Papua New Guinea (PNG) by seven (7) major indigenous land owning clans represented by 25 Agent Committees from where the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) Barrick gold mine is located in the central highlands of PNG.
PLOA takes the first opportunity to welcome the Amnesty International (AI) report that tells the truth about police violence and forced evictions occurred during a Papua New Guinea police deployment in what has been purported to restore law and order in Porgera Enga Province Papua New Guinea between April and June 2009.
The PLOA at every stage of the mines operation demanded through PJV Barrick and the PNG government for resettlements of over 5000 plus indigenous landowners out of the SML area. However, the calls for resettlement have fallen into deaf hears over times and the landowners have been forced to live inside the SML like squatters on our own land on manmade islands in the highlands of PNG.
PJV Barrick purports to claim that the company is “committed to protecting human rights and operating in alignment with the voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.” The PLOA unequivocally dismisses the proclamation. Previous case records of PJV Barrick tells a totally different story that in 2008, the Norway Government Global Pension Fund, one of the largest global pension funds in Europe divested 230 million Canadian Dollars from Barrick Gold International and delisted from its investment portfolio as a result of de-charging life tailings into Porgera-Lagaip Strickland river system harming the environment. In 2007 PJV Barrick admitted through the Ottawa Citizen News paper in Canada that 8 people were killed at the Porgera mine site for somewhat unfound reasons. The PNG government is fully aware about the human rights abuses and the matter has been reported with the United Nations Special Rapporator on Human Rights and the Canadian government which is still an ongoing matter for justice.
PLOA dismisses the simple reasoning of deterioration law and order as the justified excuse to deploy police. It’s quite easy to make shallow assertion that the complexity of social and law and other challenges in Porgera. These complexities are makings of cash for land deals under pretext of development to extract gold that has turned upside down life of thousand indigenous people that where once in peace.
PJV Barrick in various statements released dated February 2, 2010 had aggressively defended the deployment of police acting like the government of the independent state of Papua New Guinea which undermines and contradicts the proclamation that”committed to protecting human rights and operating in alignment with Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights. In contrast, a multi international company acting like a state desires a lot more than just for the interest of public safety. To put it into context, the whole hidden motive behind the police deployment was to systematically force evict all the villages within the SML area to make way to extend the mines operation. In fact PJV Barrick has announced late 2009 that the mine life has been extended by another 20 years. Therein that the pretext of deteriorating law and order is just a smoked screen.
Re-calling back, the news about force eviction at the Porgera mine site was first broke at the Barrick Shareholders meeting in Toronto on 29th April, 2009 and AI took the news and made a bold move to conduct an independent investigation.
Whereas, the report just tells what when wrong and it’s not motivated by political and financial reasons for local benefits. It’s about force destruction of humanity in one of the least developed corners of PNG under PJV Barrick and police state, and globally it’s a international concern and issue.
Therefore, PLOA calls on the Government of Papua New Guinea, Government of Canada and PJV Barrick to urgently take ownership and responsibility to adequately address the recommendations outlined in the AI report.
Mark T. Ekepa
Porgera SML Landowners Association