Corruption, neglect and human rights abuses stoking civil unrest in Indonesia’s battered West Papua province.
A September 2009 cable from the US embassy in Jakarta, obtained from wikileaks, says:
“The region is politically marginalized and many Papuans harbor separatist aspirations”.
“The Indonesian Military (TNI) has far more troops in Papua than it is willing to admit to, chiefly to protect and facilitate illegal logging operations.”
“The TNI operates as a virtually autonomous governmental entity within the province.”
Throughout 2009, cables accuse Indonesia’s government of neglecting West Papua –
“including the failure to ensure revenue generated by mining is fairly distributed.”
West Papua is home of the world’s largets gold mine, the US-based Freeport-McMoran Grasberg Mine. Freeport is Indonesia’s biggest taxpayer.
“Most money transferred to the province remains unspent although some has gone into ill-conceived projects or disappeared into the pockets of corrupt officials.”
A senior mine official confessed,
“average Papuans see few benefits from the royalty and tax payments by Freeport and other extractive industries.”
The documents also reveal confessions by senior Freeport executives about how the company pays members of the Indonesian military and police officers who help secure its operations.
Dan Bowman, Freeport Indonesia’s senior vice-president, said the “main allegations about direct payments by the company to military and police officials are true.”
Freeport continues to pay “voluntary support allowances” to police who help protect the mine.