Massive Arrest – Porgera

Dear Editor,

This morning, the Porgera Mine Police arrested 45 local Porgerans
along the riverine tailings while they were panning gold. This local
landowners live in the Special mining Leased area (SML). Their homes
have not been relocated since the mine granting the Special Mining
Lease and the licence to mine. This people’s land ones used for food
gardening was taken by the mine, their traditional gold panning sites
were covered by the waste debris and sentiments from the mine, The
mine royalty obtained quarterly is insufficient amongst the growing
population. This people have no ways to cater wants and needs
especially food and drinking water. Thus this entire community is
obliged to go into the nearby mine waste tailing sites to obtain golds
to be redeemed for cash.

This morning as usual the entire villagers set to the tailing mouth to
find gold and suddenly group of mine machinery police fully harmed
arrested man women kids including school students along the waste
tailing river and are locked up in cell. The remaining tribesman are
demanding the mine management to release the 45 arrested. The
villagers are blaming the mine for creating an artificial environment
which is conditioning the people go panning gold in the mine and be
arrested, raped, tortured and even get killed by the mine security

The situation is at tense and more shall be reported tomorrow.


Koyapal Napapen

Police swoop on Barrick employees

by Joshua Arlo, Post Courier (PNG), January 18th, 2011

POLICE have begun arresting terminated employees of the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) implicated in alleged sexual assaults against women and other serious crimes, with many more terminations and arrests expected in the coming weeks.

Acting Police Commissioner Tony Wagambie and PJV announced this yesterday, stating that this is a result of a three-month investigation by a special police team set up last year by then Police Commissioner Gari Baki in the Porgera District and an internal investigation conducted by the PJV in line with the mine’s zero tolerance policy regarding employee behaviour of any kind of violence or human rights abuse against women and men.

Those terminated also include employees who knew about the assaults but failed to report to authorities, as well as those who allegedly misled investigators.

PJV said it expected its employees who saw or heard about such acts to immediately report to the appropriate authorities.

Mr Wagambie has warned he will not tolerate any kind of violent and criminal behaviour against women “on his watch” and perpetrators will be brought to justice.

“Enough is enough. These arrests send a strong warning to those who would assault the most vulnerable members of our communities – women and young people – that their actions will not be tolerated,” he said.

“The warning is clear – respect the human rights of others and follow the laws of this land, otherwise we will find you and we will bring you to justice without fear or favour,” He said after receiving solid intelligence on these matters from the mine mangers of Barrick Gold and their independent investigators, the police moved in quickly to identify the alleged offenders.

“The mine took immediate actions after the disturbing results of an internal investigation into allegations of assaults and other serious crimes,” said Barrick executive general manager Mark Fisher in a joint statement from Barrick Gold Corporation and Mineral Resources Enga.

“We have terminated employees who were found to have breached out strict code of conduct regarding employee behaviour.”

He said PJV asked police to investigate when it received credible allegations in June last year. PJV also asked Ila Geno, the former Chief Ombudsman Commissioner and a former police commissioner to conduct an independent inquiry into alleged violence against women and report the findings directly to police.

Barrick also conducted a thorough internal investigation which involved a 15-member independent investigative team.

This team spent several months at the mine interviewing more than 650 employees and conducting a comprehensive investigation of staff and procedures.

“We have been working in close co-operation with the PNG police and we will continue to provide information and support to aid in their criminal investigation,” Mr Fisher said. “We condemn these alleged crimes in the strongest possible terms and wish to see anyone involved brought to justice under PNG law.”

Meanwhile, Mr Wagambie has revealed that investigations into other reported cases, including alleged abuses by police in the same area were continuing.

“No-one is above the law, even members for the Constabulary. Make no mistake – we are coming for them too. The best course of action for anyone who has information about these matters, or who has witnessed assaults or sexual assaults on women and young girls is to come forward now and report these matters to police.

“Don’t be afraid to report these things – staying silent helps nobody.”

In response to paid Press Statement done by Honorable Philip Kikala, Member for Lagaip

Response to paid Press Statement done by Honorable Philip Kikala, Member for Lagaip – Porgera on the Post Courier dated 8th December 2010.

Surprise but not surprisingly, Mr. Kikala seems to have gone off the track in his attempt to answer numbers of sensitive issues connected with the operation of the Porgera Gold.

The decision to sale 5% shares in Mineral Resources Enga was decided on pure commercial reasoning by the MRE board. We understand that the Porgera mine is lucrative but we have not seen any dividend benefits over the last 7 years from the shares. Year in-year out’ cash calls from the major shareholder and the joint venture partnered of the mine has become common practice and, we the Porgera Landowners Association representing about 10 000 people of the Special Mining Lease Area wish not to be seen stuck with 2.5% shares whilst no benefits. Window dressing and waste of time in holding unto the 2.5% equity.

I understand the nature of the Ok Tedi deal; BHP excited from the Ok Tedi mine free off loading some 63.4% ownership right to settle out of court after class action by the people of the Fly River delta. The PNG government reached a deal with BHP guided by an Act of Parliarament known as the Ok Tedi Act and PNG Sustainable Development Trust set up.

Apparently, Mr. Kikala was given the mandate in 2007 and whilst being fresh and in form with the ruling NA government, the opportunity was there for him to hold grips on the issues affecting the Porgera mine and the people of Lagaip-Porgera if he was that genuine. The landowners have been struggling with the mining impacts for some time and we cannot continue to hold on to shares that are of no value. I recall that at a public rally in Laiagam in September 2008, Mr. Kikala cited that, Barrick (PNG) Limited was big brother to him and he was smaller brother to Barrick.” So by way of selling the 5% share to Barrick could mean we are trying to make his big brother even bigger.

Moving on to the points of MOU Review and Resettlement, I appreciate the call by the local MP but than, his statement gives rise to a very serious question how genuine is he? What really prompted him to make a call at this juncture when the Mining Minister, Honorable John Pundari is providing the leadership and the MOU Review is expected to commence mid January 2011.

Despite Mr. Kikala is correct in pointing out that landowners are living inside the SML, the issues are not new and his statement was not a surprise call. In numerous petitions to the government, Porgera Landowners Association has repeatedly demanded for the MOU review and a comprehensive resettlement package from the National Government and Barrick PNG Ltd.

Politicians like Mr. Kikala should not size the opportunity for political convenience. Before he became an MP, Mr. Kikala was Porgera Project Coordinator, Deputy Secretary in Enga, National Planning Secretary and member of the Porgera Investigation Committee in 2006. Mr. Kikala was well acquainted with the issues affecting the landowners and yet he pretended to know nothing. I begin to wonder at one stage Mr. Kikala made a statement in Parliament in May 2010 that, “four Porgera landowner leaders have visited Canada’s House of Commons and trying to sell fabricated stories.” He even went on the extreme of asking the Foreign Affairs Minister to prosecute the four leaders.

I was amongst one of the four Porgera leaders who visited Canada between April-May 2010 and raised the issue of MOU Review and Resettlement with Barrick Senior Executives at Headquarters in Toronto and with like-minded Politicians and senior civil servants in Ottawa. Now I find Mr. Kikala’s statement contradicts him. The four Porgera leaders where not in Canada at that time trying to sell fabricated stories but raise serious issues that are affecting the SML landowners.

Hence, the issues of MOU Review, Resettlement, and the failed FIFO program at Paiam are all part and puzzle of the Porgera Landowners Association Position paper before the Mining Minister for renegotiation purpose start mid January 2011. For benefit of Mr. Kikala, I suggest he visit this web site;

Otherwise I appreciate the leadership that has been provided so far by Honorable John Pundari, Minister for Mining within his brief period at the ministry and the initiatives taken to move forward to address issues affecting the SML landowners in Porgera.

Finally, I ask Mr. Kikala to allocate some funds from the Lagaip-Porgera JDBP to assist the PLOA Land Negotating Committees for the MOU Review. The outcome of the MOU is off course, Rural Development.

Authorized for Release,

Mr. Mark Tony Ekepa


Porgera Landowners Association

latest killing and open fire shot out by Barrick private security force

photo provided by Porgera Landowners Association

One more unlawful shooting to death of an indigenous landowner at the Porgera Joint Venture Barrick mine site yesterday evening resulted in indigenous landowners confront Barrick.

Related to the same shooting incident, of relatives of the late victim protest at the mine site Community Affairs Office today at about 12 o’clock demanding remorse for unlawful shooting and Barrick’s private security guards further discharged live bullets against harmless locals at a public place. Amongst the victims of that second shooting involved Nixon Mangape, the chief land owner and chairman of Porgera Development Authority. According to eye witness, Barrick’s private security police shot at Mr. Mangape while he was in the crowd to control the situation. Mr. Mangape received a bullet wound at his back.

Porgera Landowners Association claims it’s not the first shooting and use of live bullets. Numerous complaints are with the PNG government, the UN Human Rights Commission that include investigative reports from various reputable institutions around the globe. Shooting to death of defenseless landowners is serious human rights abuses.  Therefore, the Porgera Landowners Association calls on the PNG government and local NGOs to urgently investigate the shooting and to allow law to take its course at with the police man who are involved with regular police.

Further details of the report will follow suit.

The incident also led to confrontation with the local communities and the Manager of Porgera Development Authority at PDA office at Porgera Government Station where Barrick’s private security police were in search of empty bullet shells and images from the scene of crime. The
Barrick fully armed private police were in pursuit to destroy their evidence. (Attached images of empty shells used and Barricks private police at the mine gate).

I now call for immediate investigation on the killings and the related incident. The Prime Minister and the Mining Minister must immediately take ownership of the issue because they have failed to resettle the (SML) Special Mining lease landowners.

Mark Tony Ekepa
Chairman – PLOA

Toxic Non-Neutralized Tailings emitted from Barrick Gold’s Porgera Mine: Villagers poisoned (report w/testimonies)

The Porgera Alliance compiled the testimonies of 25 victims poisoned from an unusually high discharge of unneutralized waste at Barrick Gold’s Porgera mine.

Mark Ekepa writes:

Find attached is the report done from my end just on the 27th of July PJV Barrick have discharged heavy pure (not neutralized) into the river system (red wara).

The villagers have gone down to the (red wara) panning for gold and when the villagers have contacted the river they got burn up and sores were all over their bodies.

Read report here.

New Harvard Report released detailing human rights abuses at Porgera Mine Site

In October & November 2009, the Canadian House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs & Intl. Development held hearings on “Bill C-300, An Act respecting Corporate Accountability”.  The following statements were made regarding issues including allegations of killings, rape & other security problems involving personnel at the Porgera Joint Venture in Papua New Guinea, as well as the Porgera mine’s environmental impacts.  (Barrick Gold holds a large majority stake of the Porgera Joint Venture.)

- Catherine Coumans, Research Coordinator & Asia Pacific Program, MiningWatch Canada
- Tyler Giannini, Intl. Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School [USA]
- Sarah Knuckey, Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, New York Univ. School of Law [USA]

Barrick issued a response to these and other allegations made about its operations and impacts at the hearings, available here.

The statements above by Tyler Giannini and Sarah Knuckey were accompanied by a lengthy written report, which was submitted to the Committee in hard copy at the time of the testimony, and made available in PDF format in July 2010:
- Table of contents & list of appendices
- Executive summary & body of report
- Appendix A
- Appendix B-1
- Appendix B-2
- Appendix B-3
- Appendix B-4
- Appendix C

Barrick response to the report [PDF] – 23 July 2010

Three girls raped at Porgera Mine site

photo of children in tailings waste near Barrick's Porgera mine in PNG. (note: this is not a photo of the girls who were raped).

We have received a complaint that three young girls at the age around 14 years were taken into PJV Yoko 2 camp on the 18th June 2010 and raped by PJV engaged police mobile squads.

Also the victims have reported the matter at the Paiam Police Station on the 19th June 2010 OB no#6288/10 with full details of the transporting vehicle.

Forced rape and violation against woman is serious crime in PNG and such unethical behaviours desire urgent investigation. We at ATA condemn the actions with term strongest possible terms and call for full investigation and appropriate actions taken with law.

read full Akali Tange Association Statement.
read statement from the Porgera Landowners Association on the rapes.

STATEMENT: Brief on New Bill to Strip Rights to Land

A new law was bulldogged through the PNG Parliament last week that outlaws those third party lawsuits against resource projects in Papua New Guinea. According to Environment and Conversation Minister Benny Allan that, Environment (Amendment) Bill 2010 will supplement, give full effects to enable companies holding environmental permits to comply with the standards stated in their permit. The amendment will mitigate risks associated with third party litigation, or lawsuits. The government is claiming that recent court decision against the state exposed resource projects to the risks that environmental permits granted by the state satisfying legal and scientific requirements.

However, the indigenous landowners including us believe that the Bill strips our rights to land. The bill leaves companies and developers immune to law suits for compensation, “even if they were negligent or at fault”. This is one of the worst pieces of legislation on human rights. The bill stripped the landowners of common law and customary law rights that we have had for over 10,000 years. Multi nationals in the extractive industries cannot be sued for negligent. It does not matter even if the companies are at fault…. so long as the company was carrying out the activity it was authorized under the permit to do- it escapes all liability for environmental damages.

The main reason behind the government to rush the bill through, changes to sections of the Environmental Act 2000, “prevent landowners and concerned Papua New Guinean from interfering with the extractive projects.

Its sad news in our struggles but we are trying to liaise with landowners throughout Papua New Guinea to mount a high court review. We will desperately new assistance with regards to the court challenge and we will advise as and when the matter develops to reality.

Mark Tony Ekepa



PNG TO PROTEST TO CANADA: Porgerans respond to accusations about their advocacy abroad

At the outset, we write to establish our facts surrounding the sudden outburst by Member for Lagaip Porgera Hon. Philip Kikala in Parliament questioning about the rights of four Porgera villagers recent visit to Canada.

The four villagers from Porgera where not there in Canada, trying to sell fabricated stories against Barrick Gold of Canada. We have outstanding issues that needed immediate attention and needs to be addressed by Barrick gold, the 95% owner of the Porgera Joint Venture mine in Porgera.

The allegations against Barrick about killings, rapes, forced evictions are not framed allegations to make easy money. The Government of Papua New Guinea and Barrick are respectively blamed for these crimes of gross human rights violations and the matter has been on the government and Barricks table for sometime. Untied Nations Human Rights Commission has full knowledge of the human rights abuses and closely monitoring while the UN Special Rarpportuer on Human Rights is investigating the matter.

In 2004 for the first time Enga Governer Hon. Peter Ipatas raised the issue of killing armless villagers by Barrick security guards at the floor of parliament and some two years after, the current Foreign Minister brought the same issue up.

In 2006 the Government of Papua New Guinea did conducted an investigation headed by Dr. John Luluaki from University of Papua New Guinea, and Hon. Philip Kikala was the deputy chairman of that committee. That Porgera Investigation Committee Report has never been made public or tabled in Parliament. In 2009 the Government of Norway divested 230 million Canadian dollars after finding Barrick’s discharge of tailings direct into the environment was irreversible to damages caused at the Porgera mine site. On 7th April 2010 the National Court in Wabag convicted a Barrick security guard for murder and dismissed the convict’s grounds of self-defense.

From that conviction the court never found the usual Barrick response to allegations of killings at the Porgera mine site was on self defense or any excuse for that matter. What about more than 32 killings suppose law had taken its course?

A group of experts from University of Harvard USA, New York State University USA and University of Alaska have testified before the Canadian House of Commons Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs about the human rights abuses and environmental violation at the Porgera mine site. These groups of people from reputable institutions in North America conducted their independent investigation on our request and not otherwise claimed by Hon. Kikala. At all times, Hon. Kikala knew well and his superise out burst desires a lot of explanation to the people.

In addition to these investigated testimonies and court rulings, the Porgera Landowners Association presented a petition to the National Government of Papua New Guinea last September 2009 raising the same issues of resettlement and human rights abuses. The government has allowed the petition to lay flat since.

Based on the established facts, Barrick must not continue to deny and use Hon. Kikala while the PNG government must not play a cheap politics with tread of protest note and prosecute villagers who speak out.

The issue of resettlement and human rights abuses is over-due and needs to be urgently addressed. The impacts from the mine operation over 20 years is so enormous that these issues need to be adequately dealt with rather than, play with power and money as the yard stick to take cover. Lives of people are at steak as a result of bad mining practices and far below best international standards.

Barrick and PNG government cannot take cover under law and order problems to force evict landowners who otherwise deserved to be resettled. Amnesty International did a great job to produce a report after thorough investigation and that report compels the government and Barrick act. Yet, Barrick and the government are seen to be above the law with defying of a National Court Order on force evictions. The court orders Barrick not to accommodate and fid state security personnel’s. The state to provide relief with food, shelter etc. It’s over a year and the order is not being honored.

Thus we appreciate the rights to foreign investors doing business in extractive industries in remote setting through out the country and on the other hand, companies like Barrick must respect the rules of host communities and uphold international best practice standard as preached to be practiced in Porgera but not otherwise.

The Porgera delegations travel to Canada was not an easy right as claimed by the Hon. Member. The delegation spoke at various forums including with members of House of Commons speaking out the truth about the continuous human rights and environmental rights violations by one of Canadian company’s. These issue a serious and needs immediate attention being the reason behind the four villagers in Canada and not trying to squeeze some easy money out of Barrick with fabricated stories.

It is now a challenge to the current PNG government to due diligently addresses the issues at Porgera once and for all with the stakeholders. The parliament that Hon. Kikala stood up and spoke and for the Foreign Minister to write protest note is for the people and by the people. The very grassroots people who mandate that parliament are affected, not the company Hon. Kikala is trying to protect?

Mark Tony Ekepa


Cc: Post Courier
Cc: The National
Cc: The Toronto Star, Canada
Cc: The Mail and Globe, Ottawa Canada
Cc: The Sydney Morning Herald

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