Village Houses Burnt Down – Again – at Barrick Mine; Violence Against Local Men and Women Continues Unabated

Mining Watch Canada

Before dawn on March 25, some 150 houses in the village of Wangima were burnt to the ground by Mobile Units of the Papua New Guinea police, according to reports from Akali Tange Association, a human rights organization in Porgera.

Wangima is located inside the mine lease area of Barrick Gold’s Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) mine. The violent raid on the village occurred while people were sleeping. Barrick has now confirmed allegations made by the Akali Tange Association that a Papua New Guinea police operation on the 25th of March led to the destruction of homes belonging to villagers of Wangima, though claiming only 18 houses were destroyed.

Akali Tange Association’s McDiyan Yapari interviewed the victims while their houses were still smouldering. In a letter sent to Barrick’s President Kelvin Dushnisky, Yapari records an interview with one of the victims:

“an owner of one of a [sic] houses that was burnt down said that he was fast asleep at around 5:30 am in the morning when the PNG Police Mobil Squads forcefully broke his houses door and entered. After entering his house, they dragged him out of his house half naked and a policeman set his house on fire. He further said that he did not get even a single shirt or a pant. Everything he owns including cooking utensils, clothes, beds and other valuable properties were all burnt down.”

Barrick says that the PJV mine has been advised that warrants were issued by the Porgera District Court for the raid and asserts that mine personnel had no prior knowledge of the police action. This response is remarkable as it does not explain how such a planned raid could occur in a village inside Barrick’s mine lease area without Barrick’s prior knowledge – particularly as there is a history of such house burnings in Wangima by police involved with the mine, as reported on by MiningWatch in 2009 and 2014.

Police who guard the mine are housed, fed, clothed and paid by the mine which is 95% owned by Barrick (Niugini) Ltd., in turn 50% owned by Barrick Gold. Yapari refers in his letter to Barrick’s Dushnisky that one of the police involved in the raid told Yapari that the “Company gave us orders and that we had no choice but to follow their directives,” adding,

“We are here working for money and if we don’t follow orders, we will not be paid our daily allowances.”

Yapari was also told that young girls were gang raped and young men beaten in the raid.

Violence against local men and women by mine security guards and Papua New Guinea police, who guard the mine under a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the Papua New Guinea state, is also long-standing and ongoing. Barrick has never released the MOA.

Yapari highlights the ongoing violence against locals by mine-related security by describing an “incident of gang rape on Monday, 20th March, 2017 at around 3:00 pm. One eyewitness said women were crossing a haul road when the Barrick hired PNG Police Mobil [sic] Squads patrolling the Mine’s Waste Dump held them up during the daylight and gang raped them.”

Barrick’s public statement does not address the violence that reportedly accompanied the house burnings, nor the allegations made by Yapari of gang rape on March 20.

“It is simply incomprehensible that Barrick does not publicly condemn house burnings by police occurring on the mine’s lease area, by all accounts by police funded and directed by Barrick, as these are gross violations of human rights,” says Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, “Does Barrick think it is appropriate to send police to remove people from where they sleep and burn down their houses and possessions?”

In the letter, Yapari says, “Barrick needs to give us an explanation for these continuous violent raids on our people and must give immediate humanitarian aid to the victims as well as remedy for the losses and personal harm they have suffered.”

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea

3 responses to “Village Houses Burnt Down – Again – at Barrick Mine; Violence Against Local Men and Women Continues Unabated

  1. Sandy Patton

    This behavior must stop. Barrick man up the buck stops with you.
    Barrick obviously aren’t concerned with human rights. Your people your problems Barrick.
    Stop hurting these people you dont deserve to be on their land.
    You are asking for trouble, don’t complain when it arrives. You reap what you sow

  2. Helen

    Can you get a class action, contact pro bono lawyers in your country or in Australia? as well as expose Barrick any way you can- shareholder meetings, the Press… this is beyond horrific.

  3. Horrific indeed.
    So, Barrick Gold has now confirmed the allegations made by the Akali Tange Association that a Papua New Guinea police operation on the 25th of March led to the destruction of homes belonging to villagers of Wangima, though claiming only 18 houses were destroyed.
    An earlier report suggested that 150 houses were burnt down. Is this a typo perhaps?
    There are Human Rights lawyers in PNG and elsewhere who will support those people whose homes have been destroyed and the females who were gang raped.
    In solidarity

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s