Freeport Indonesia employee denies co-workers held hostage by OPM

KBR – November 13, 2017
PT Freeport gold-and-copper mine in West Papua. (Antara)
PT Freeport gold-and-copper mine in West Papua. (Antara)

Bambang Hari, Jakarta – An employee at the PT Freeport Indonesia gold-and-copper mine in West Papua, Aser Gobai has refuted information that a PT Freeport worker has been taken hostage by an armed civilian group.

Papua Police Chief Boy Rafli Amar said earlier that a group nicknamed an Armed Criminal Group (KKB) [a term used by the authorities for the Free Papua Organisation (OPM)] was holding a PT Freeport employee hostage.

“On the issue of local villagers being held hostage [in Tembagapura, Mimika regency], I haven’t heard anything about that either”, said Aser when interviewed by KBR by phone on Sunday November 12.

Aser added that he also had not heard anything about heavy machinery, an excavator, being high jacked by an armed group and used to damage roads.

“So far there hasn’t been any report that employees were involved. We also want to convey that so far there has been no hostage taking of PT Freeport employees. So essentially no PT Freeport employee has been taken hostage buy an armed group”, added Aser.

Nevertheless, Aser admitted that conflict involving security forces and armed civilian groups in Tembagapura has discrupted the activities of local residents in the area. Despite this, said Aser, residents are continuing their daily activities as normal.

“Residents – including PT Freeport employees – are continuing their activities [as normal]. They are continuing to work. Even though there is a sense of fear”, he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was Pekerja Freeport Bantah Rekannya Disandera Kelompok OPM.]