Indigenous Leaders from Papua New Guinea Accuse Barrick Gold of Abuses

Four members of the Ipili tribe of Porgera in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have travelled to Canada to demand that Barrick Gold address serious human rights abuses and environmental destruction related to Barrick’s Porgera Joint Venture gold mine. Two of the Ipili are landowners and also part-owners of the Porgera Joint Venture mine.

Long-standing allegations of killings and rapes of civilians by security forces at Barrick’s PNG mine have been confirmed recently by the findings of a team of investigators from Harvard University who reported to Canadian Parliamentarians in 2009. “We have been trying to raise awareness of these killings and rapes by Barrick’s security forces for many years,” said Jethro Tulin of the Akali Tange Association, a local grassroots human rights organization. “Finally our allegations are being confirmed but Barrick is not supporting our calls for an investigation of these killings nor offering compensation to the families of those who have been killed or raped.”

Last year Barrick supported a massive military action in villages inside Barrick’s mine lease area. This military crack-down led to the forcible eviction of many citizens and the burning down of some 300 of their homes. “My house was burned down,” said Mark Ekepa, chairman of the Porgera Landowners Association and part-owner of the mine. “Barrick was complicit in the actions of the police and military and should be actively calling for an investigation as Amnesty International has recommended in its report of the house burnings.”

In 2009, the Norwegian Government divested its Pension Fund of shares in Barrick Gold as a result of findings by the fund of massive environmental damage downstream from the mine caused by the dumping of toxic mine waste into the local 800-kilometre long river system. “Our river system has been severely contaminated and is no longer safe for drinking water or for harvesting food,” said Jeffery Simon, a member of the Akali Tange Association. “This is causing a lot of hardship for villagers who rely on the rivers.”

Contamination of local water sources, lack of available land for food production, and unsafe living conditions of villagers living within the mine lease area have all become untenable. “We have made it clear to Barrick many times, most recently in our meeting with Barrick last week in Toronto, that all residents in the mine lease area must be resettled according to international standards,” said Anga Atalu, one of the landowners living  in the mine lease area, “but Barrick is refusing our request.”

“The situation at the Porgera Joint Venture Mine  in terms of environmental destruction and human rights abuses in which Barrick is alleged to be complicit is only possible because the Papua New Guinea government is weak and not doing its job to protect its citizens and its environment” said Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada. “This is a common problem in developing countries and the effective impunity of Canadian companies in these situations can only be addressed by legislation, like Bill C-300, that would allow these citizens of Papua New Guinea to file a complaint and seek sanction in Canada for the abuses they are suffering.”


Mark Ekepa, Chairman, Porgera Landowners Association: emarktony(at)
Jethro Tulin, Executive Officer, Akali Tange Association: jctulin(at) (647) 669-4529 (cell)
Catherine Coumans, MiningWatch Canada: catherine(at) (613) 569-3439

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