Friday, August 28, 2009

Freeport Workers Wear Flak Jackets and Helmets against Attacks in Papua

Amid a spate of roadside ambushes from gunmen over the last few months, employees of PT Freeport Indonesia have started wearing flak jackets and helmets. Employees and drivers who are going to go to Tembagapura from Timika and vice versa are using flak jackets and helmets in order to protect them from harm and to anticipate sudden attacks from gunmen during their trips transfering logistics equipment to Tembagapura.

The two cities are about 80 kilometers apart and can only be reached overland via the infamously treacherous road linking the mine with Tembagapura.

Authorities initially blamed members of the separatist Free Papua Movement (OPM) — who consider Freeport to be a symbol of oppression — for attacks since July 8 that have left three people dead. But there is still no clear evidence that rebels were involved. Freeport’s operations and staff members have been the targets of blockades, bomb attacks and arson since production began at the mine in the 1970s.

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