Organized to demand rights for the People of Papua New Guinea

8th Session

A Statement at the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, Eighth Session

Intervention by: Jethro Tulin, Executive Officer of Akali Tange Association (Porgera, Enga Province, Papua New Guinea)

Supported by: Asia Caucus, Pacific Caucus, Western Shoshone Defense Project (Nevada, USA), Peoples Earth, Society for Threatened Peoples International (ECOSOC), Indigenous Peoples Link

Item 7: Future Work of the UNPFII
New York, May 27, 2009.

Madam Chair, this is my second time at this UN forum, and today my message and recommendations are more urgent than before. In my homeland in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, the Ipili and Engan people have seen their traditions turned upside-down by the influence of a large-scale mining project. In one generation, the mine has brought militarization, corruption, and environmental devastation to a land that previously knew only subsistence farming and alluvial mining.

We therefore welcome the participants of the office of the Special Representation on Business and Human Rights in these sessions. We urge the forum and professor Ruggie to continue the dialogue. However this alone is not enough. TNC corporations are a big problem for indigenous peoples and we need a constant monitor on their actions.

Last year, I explained that mine guards and police were killing locals and raping our women; there have been five more killings and many more rapes since. Last year, I described how our food sources were threatened by mine waste dumped directly into the river system and how my people were exposed to dangerous chemicals like cyanide and mercury; today, those practices continue. Last year, I complained that the mine is directly next to our homes; and just three weeks ago, the Papua New Guinea government, motivated by reports presented by the mining company, unleashed a “State of Emergency,” a police and military operation that saw hundreds of homes of indigenous land owners surrounding the open pit mine razed to the ground.

The increasing global power and influence of trans-national companies like the Canadian Barrick Gold, managers of the Porgera mine means that they, alongside the PNG government, must be responsible for upholding human rights within their spheres of influence.

Corporations are also a threat to our environment. These mines pollute vital water sources and require an immense amount of energy to run. The Porgera mine alone produces over 400,000 tonnes of greenhouse gases and consumes over 7 billion gallons of water a year, which it continually dumps – polluted – into a 800 km-long river system, eventually leading to the Gulf of Papua and reaching the Great Barrier Reef.  In a time of impending climate change, this environmental devastation affects us all.
We recommend that the Permanent Forum:

1. Urge the Permanent Forum to establish a regular agenda point on the issues of the private sector and to write urgently to the Government of Papua New Guinea and Barrick Gold Corporation of Canada appealing for an urgent halt to the State of Emergency and the destruction of peoples homes.

2. Endorse the recommendations put forth in the report of the expert group meeting on extractive industries, Indigenous Peoples’ rights and corporate social responsibility, which met in March 2009 in Manila, Philippines and follow up by  sending the findings to corporations including Barrick Gold;

3. We recommend that the World Bank have an in depth interaction with the forum next year so we can call for activation of the World Bank 2005 Extractive Industries Review and for activation of the previous promises to address the impact and legacy of extractive industries on Indigenous Lands, territories and natural resources;

4. We ask the forum to Investigate how to set up an Indigenous arbitration system, a regulatory regime, to control the practices of the trans-national mining companies, other extractive industries, forestry and fisheries;

5. and to form an agency  to evaluate the amount different Indigenous communities involuntarily subsidize the mining industry and other extractive industries through their natural resources, which are seized with minimal compensation, if any, by forms of colonialism perpetrated by trans-national companies;

Thank you.

Jethro Tulin, Akali Tange Association Inc.
Porgera Enga Province, Papua New Guinea

May 20, 2009
New York