A Chronology of PT Minersave’s (Freeport’s) Entry into Intan Jaya Regency, West Papua

Whenever anyone protested, the police and military stationed there would deal with the problem; if anyone claimed they should be paid the price the company had proposed, the police and military would hit that person without hesitation until their face was black and blue. After one man, Linus Sondegau, was beaten in this way, a mass fight broke out between police and army and the local workers.

On seeing this, local people felt powerless to make any further protest against PT Freeport’s deception in Sugapa. Meanwhile John Cutts had since disappeared, after bringing these people who knew no pity. Local workers just took all this while remaining outwardly calm, because they were not really ready to become labourers. Many local people who were accepted into the hoist team fell from the helicopter, because they were not equipped with sufficient knowledge of safety at work.

Several local workers fell from the helicopter holding the rope to attach it, for example one worker who was caught in the trees on the side of Mount Wabu-Sugapa. No-one came to his help but fortunately the helicopter released the rope. The worker, called Didimus Japugai was caught in the branches of a tree. Local people’s crops were damaged by the downdraught from the helicopter as it landed with its cargo of tools for the company’s. The owners of the land asked to be paid for the damage done to ther crops by Freeport’s helicopter, but nothing could be done because the process was handed over to local police and military. So the people had to gracefully accept this injustice.

Exploration took place in vital places for the local people’s livelihood, such as their hunting grounds, the places they would find wood or rattan, and the land they cultivated. The Sugapa-Bilagae base-camp was tightly guarded by police and military who forbade the people to roam around the base-camp both day and night. Once two or three pigs from Bilogae villagers were killed by guards without letting the village chief know beforehand. The guards then asked for half of the meat, in exchange for the bullets they had lost they said, and like-it-or-not the pigs’ owners had to once again gracefully accept, afraid of being beaten or shot by the security forces.

At night the people from the Bilogae (Wabu) base camp would take advantage of their situation and bring underage girls and even several married women from the village for sex. Local workers were encouraged to gamble and other negative actvities. When a local worker wanted to visit a sick family member they were told go to work or be fired, that’s how the workers were treated at the time.

PT Freeport, using PT Minersave as it’s vehicle, felt at liberty to explore the land, forests and rivers of Wabu, Intan Jaya as if it was land that belonged to nobody. Compensation for the flora and fauna has still not been paid to the holders of customary rights over this land until the present day

As a result, PT Freeport destroyed the natural environment which protected the people’s animals and plants, and so all who lived there evacuated to places where it was possible to live better and more peacefully.

That is the story of how PT Freeport, by means of PT Minersave, was able to enter Intan Jaya regency and assume that the natural environment of Intan Jaya was without an owner, leaving it free to explore just as it pleased.


The recommendation letter below was issued by the caretaker leader (Bupati) of Intan Jaya Regency Maximus Zonggonau and the head of Intan Jaya People’s Representative Council Herenius Sondegau without co-ordination, discussion or input from Intan Jaya’s indigenous people.

Recommendation letter number: 65/REK/BUP./IJ/2012 states “based on the Director of PT IRJA EASTERN MINERALS letter Number IM/08/II/2012 dated 16th February 2012, the Bupati of Intan Jaya hereby grants its recommendation to PT. IRJA EASTERN MINERALS to make use of the protected forest of Intan Jaya regency for exploration activities. In the course of carrying out these activities it is intended that all valid regulations are obeyed, especially to protect the environment in the conservation forest.” Such laws had never been obeyed by any of the exploration and exploitation activities carried out in Sugapa during the years before this note was written.

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