Tag Archives: violence against women
They say Toronto-based gold miner has yet to provide the compensation promised many of the more than 119 women and girl victims of sexual violence at Papua New Guinea mine
NOW News | May 2, 2017
As allegations of sexual violence continue to shadow Toronto-based Barrick Gold’s mining operations in Papua New Guinea, two women among those victimized by the violence were in Toronto to address shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting last week.
But Everlyn Guape and Joycelyn Mandi were never given the opportunity to speak. Barrick senior vice-president of communications, Andy Lloyd, is chalking that up to a “misunderstanding”. Namely, a problem with papers filed by activists to allow the women to speak as proxies at the AGM. The Mining Injustice Solidarity Network says the necessary paperwork was filed on time.
After some confusion in which security attempted to move the women to the back of the meeting room, a representative from MiningWatch Canada ended up reading Guape’s and Mandi’s statements to Barrick shareholders.
The women are among 119 women and girls who accepted compensation from Barrick (some $10,000 each) as part of a 2012 redress package brokered by the Harvard and New York University legal clinics, MiningWatch Canada, Amnesty International, ProtestBarrick and Human Rights Watch. That, following allegations of widespread rape by security and police at Barrick’s Porgera mine. Eleven other women who refused the compensation package and threatened to sue the company received out-of-court settlements.
Since then, women who accepted the original package say they have yet to receive any money from the company or, in some cases, even to be contacted. They’ve organized to demand fairer treatment and for Barrick to release them from a waiver they signed as a condition of their compensation.
I live in the shadow of Barrick’s Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea.
This mine dumps all of its tailings and waste rock directly into the river valleys around the pit. Our villages are surrounded by mine waste. We have to cross this waste to get from one village to another, or to go to our vegetable gardens or schools.
How would you feel if your children had to walk through the stinking chemical waste of a mine?
The mine and the waste have destroyed our traditional livelihood. When we enter the waste to pan for gold for our new livelihood, the mine’s security guards and police attack us.
I was raped. Can you imagine a young girl being brutally beaten and gang-raped on the edge of a river of bright red chemical waste?
After years of denial, Barrick finally decided to give me and the other rape victims some remedy.
But we were not asked what we needed to repair the many terrible impacts of the rapes in our lives. Barrick’s consultants just told us “take it or leave it.” They told us we were powerless against the company. We had to sign legal waivers to get any remedy at all, so we cannot take legal action now.
We want an open dialogue about what we need to remedy the harm we have suffered, and we want to be able to include human rights experts we trust to support us in this dialogue.
I was raped by mine security when I was a teenager. This happened in 2008, the same year that our fellow Porgerans came to this AGM in Toronto for the first time to tell about the killings and the beatings and the rapes that we were suffering [at the hands of] mine security and police guarding the mine.
I have never received any remedy for the harm that this rape has caused in my life. I am not alone; there are many other victims who have never received remedy. And the sexual violence is ongoing.
Barrick knows this because MiningWatch Canada and human rights clinics at Columbia and Harvard Universities have told about the many women who have never received remedy.
My case was brought to your grievance office in 2015 together with the cases of 80 other women.
We have case number 3936, but until today we have had nothing but excuses from Barrick about why our cases have not been addressed, and no one has spoken to us about our cases.
Barrick Gold has been accused by Porgera women, of being complicit in their rape by mine security. Corporate consultant Dame Carol Kidu has defended Barrick Gold before the UN, claiming the company has handled the matter appropriately. Survivors have gone to Canada to argue this is not the case!
Women from Papua New Guinea bring rape complaints to Canadian mining company’s door
Hilary Beaumont | Vice News | April 26, 2017
Two women from Papua New Guinea flew half-way around the world this week to tell their stories of sexual assault at a Canadian mining giant’s shareholders’ meeting — but when they arrived at the meeting, they say they were told they couldn’t speak.
Everlyn Gaupe and Joycelyn Mandi allege they were raped years ago by security guards employed by the Porgera Joint Venture mine, which is co-owned by Barrick Gold and Chinese company Zijin Mining Group. The company has compensated about 130 women, including Gaupe, although she says her payment was not enough. Mandi also sought compensation, but didn’t receive any. The women claim that rapes, beatings, and environmental contamination are still happening at the mine’s dumping site today.
“They said no, they told us we were not going to speak, we don’t know why,” Mandi told VICE News inside the meeting. “We followed every rule to come in to speak. We don’t know. Something’s going wrong.”
Mining Watch Canada paid their airfare and arranged for Barrick shareholders to appoint the women as their proxies so they could ask questions at the end to the meeting. But as they entered the AGM, the women said they were told their proxy shares weren’t valid. Instead, a Mining Watch Canada activist read prepared statements for them.
Jacob Sternberg confirmed to VICE News that he appointed Mandi as his proxy holder so she could speak in his place at the meeting. Rachel Small confirmed that she appointed Gaupe as her proxy. That the women were given the impression they couldn’t speak was “disrespectful, to put it mildly,” she said. The company said while the women were told their proxies were invalid, no one told them they couldn’t speak. Barrick knew a week in advance that the women were coming.
Although they didn’t get to read their statements, the women said they felt proud and happy that their voices were heard inside the meeting. “I am feeling lighter now,” Gaupe said after the meeting. “Barrick and the world have heard us and we are satisfied.”
The women’s visit to Canada comes amid new reports of violence near the mine, and renews questions about the accountability of Canadian mining companies operating overseas — something the Liberal government is facing pressure to address.
Trade minister François-Philippe Champagne is “a little pre-occupied with Trump these days” so the mining file isn’t getting much attention, Liberal MP John McKay told VICE News. However the government is actively considering creating a mining ombudsman’s office that would investigate serious complaints overseas, he said. “I have a sense that they do want to get this done. I have a sense they don’t want to be answering these questions come next election.”
Champagne’s office said the minister, who was appointed to his position in January, is engaged in the file. He met with Canada’s existing Corporate Social Responsibility Counselor to evaluate how to strengthen the counselor’s role, and has also met directly with the mining sector at the annual Prospector’s and Developers Association of Canada conference in Toronto in March, according to his press secretary.
On March 25, local police funded by the mine entered a settlement in Porgera, Papua New Guinea and burned down a number of houses. During the raid, police allegedly gang raped women and assaulted men, according to a local human rights group the Akali Tange Association. The company disputes that any sexual assault or beatings happened during the raid.
Days before the shareholders meeting, the ATA’s executive officer McDiyan Robert Yapari said he was arrested and charged with reporting false news about the March 25 raid. He said his phone was confiscated and he was accused of tarnishing the reputation of the police.
The company confirmed the raid took place, but said only 18 structures were burned down — not 150 houses as McDiyan had reported — and the whole operation was conducted legally with warrants. However the company did not provide those warrants when VICE News asked to see them.
In interviews with VICE News, Gaupe and Mandi explained that the mine has drawn a large population into the valley around it in search of wealth, and so the valley is crowded with people living in slum-like conditions, making it difficult if not impossible for them to farm and produce food as they used to. Instead, they say the only way to survive is to go to the mine dump site every day to pan for gold, which they can exchange for money to buy rice.
But Barrick security considers this illegal mining and trespassing, so they chase the miners off the site, threatening them with guard dogs and shooting them with rubber bullets, according to the women.
“When they run and catch us, they do whatever they want,” Gaupe told VICE News. “They beat us brutally. …They arrest us too, and for the women we are likely to be raped.”
“It’s happening now, while I’m talking. They like raping us, the security guards,” she continued. “Two weeks ago, we heard three women were seized up by security personnels and they were raped.”
Company spokesperson Andy Lloyd told VICE News the company was aware of another rape report in the last two weeks, but that no claims had been submitted to the company.
“We absolutely condemn sexual assault, it’s a horrific crime and we don’t support it,” Lloyd said following the meeting. “It’s unacceptable and it’s not something we want to see happening on any mine or around any mine that we operate.”
“There is no question that sexual assault is a huge problem in this part of the world,” he added. “We’ve seen surveys where 80 percent of the women in the community have said they have been sexually assaulted by a family member, by members of the community, so it’s a pervasive problem, it’s not a mine problem.”
Mandi said she had submitted a claim to the company’s grievance process in 2014, but had not heard anything from the company since then.
Lloyd explained that the grievance mechanism takes a long time, and is not set up to address serious human rights violations like sexual assault. If someone does submit a sexual assault claim through the grievance process, it gets put aside into a legal claims process, he said. If it’s found to be valid, the mine “would discuss a remedy.” He was unable to say whether any sexual assault allegations had been resolved through this process.
He said there were a large number of claims submitted together in one batch, and there were “issues with documentation” of some of those claims. “I have no idea if her claim was one of those, but that may be a reason for why it has taken some time to actually pursue.” In 2015 alone, the company says it received 805 complaints through its grievance mechanism, although the company would not say how many of those were complaints of sexual assault versus resettlement requests, employment grievances and other claims.
In some cases, local human rights groups will bring grievances forward on behalf of people who say they were wronged by the mine, and Lloyd said the company must do its due diligence to ensure those groups are authorized to represent the complainant.
“The commitment from [President Kelvin Dushinsky] today was to follow up with her and to understand what her claim was, and whether there is anything we can do to help move it along, I think that’s something we’re happy to do,” he said of Mandi’s claim.
The company has no plans at the moment to re-open its remedy framework that previously compensated women for alleged sexual assaults.
Other than the grievance process, women can report sexual assault allegations to a human rights observer in the valley, or to the police, Lloyd explained, although police themselves have been accused of raping women.
Lloyd said the company “has tried to be a positive force” in the dialogue around sexual assault, training police and employees on human rights, funding a police sexual violence response unit and has brought the anti-gender violence NGO White Ribbon to several of its mine sites to raise awareness about the issue.
Gaupe said the company had promised to pay school fees for her children and medical fees, and set up business for women living in the valley. “Empty promises, it didn’t happen,” she said.
Elizabeth McSheffrey | National Observer | April 25 2017
Everlyn Gaupe says she could have outrun their attackers but her little sister could not. She stayed behind. Both girls were beaten and gang raped.
Their assailants were security guards hired to patrol a gold mine in her community of Porgera in Papua New Guinea. Gaupe was 18 years old.
But time has not healed, and though the vicious attack was nearly 20 years ago, the experience brings her to tears today. Gaupe flew from Papua New Guinea to share the difficult memory with Barrick Gold — the Canadian mining giant that owns nearly 50 per cent of the Porgera gold mine.
She and another survivor of the violence at the mine, Joycelyn Mandi, attended the company’s annual general meeting with shareholders on Wednesday to demand justice for more than 100 other women who have experienced similar trauma at the hands of Porgera’s security guards. But they were denied the opportunity to speak by a member of Barrick Gold’s staff, as a protest against its operations was underway on the streets of downtown Toronto.
In an interview with National Observer, Barrick Gold’s senior vice-president of communications, Andy Lloyd, said it appears there was a problem with their arrangement to speak at the meeting through a proxy shareholder — a practice regularly used by activists to participate in such meetings, and permitted by the company.
Barrick Gold regrets the “misunderstanding,” he said, and despite the protocol mishap, Lloyd said the women should still have been able to ask questions at the meeting. Barrick has offered to meet with Gaupe and Mandi privately to hear their concerns while they’re still in Canada.
Everlyn Guape and Jocelyn Mandi travelled from Papua New Guinea to Canada to tell Barrick Gold shareholders about violence they suffered at the hands of security guards at one of the company’s mines. But the company wouldn’t let them speak. Video by Riley Sparks
Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada accompanied Gaupe and Mandi at the shareholder’s meeting and read their statements for them as they watched quietly, unable to speak. She equated the rejection of their proxy request — which she says was completed on time — to taking “away their voice.”
“We’ve been doing this year after year, using this forum to allow people to have a voice in Canada and talk to the shareholders and directors directly,” she told National Observer. “This year, they rejected almost all the proxies, and there was no reason given. The first thing that came to my mind is, ‘silence is violence’… This is how you silence people.”
A history of violence at Porgera mine
Gaupe and Mandi, who left Papua New Guinea for the first time in their lives just to make this presentation, were devastated.
“It’s not only us,” said Mandi, standing at the heart of a small protest outside the meeting. “We are representing the majority back home. It’s not about us.”
The Porgera gold mine in western Papua New Guinea has been the notorious site of gang rape, beatings, and other atrocities since it started operating in 1990. Detailed reports by Human Rights Watch and other industry watchdog groups describe disturbing cases of extreme violence at the hands of mine security personnel, some of whom threatened victims with arrest if they tried to complain to other authorities.
Most of the victims are villagers who scavenge for low-grade ore discarded in the company’s waste rock piles, said Coumans of MiningWatch Canada, or women and girls who are crossing mine property to get to school, their jobs, or the market.
“This mine dumps all of its tailings and waste rock directly into the river valleys all around the pit,” she told Barrick’s shareholders, reading the presentation Gaupe intended to make. “Our villages are surrounded by mine waste. We have to cross this waste just to get from one village to another, or to go to our vegetable gardens or schools.”
The mine is a joint venture of Barrick Gold, a Chinese producer called Zijin Mining Group, and Mineral Resources Enga, which divides its five-per-cent interest between the local provincial government and landowners. Barrick, the largest gold producer in the world, acquired its interest in the mine in 2006, which means much of the documented violence occurred before it became involved in the project.
Reports from the ground however, indicate that the company’s efforts to contain violence at the hands of mine security guards since 2006 have failed: Beatings, rapes and attacks are still common, reports MiningWatch Canada. In March, a local human rights organization — the Akali Tange Association — also said a police raid on a village within the mine’s lease destroyed 150 houses, and that villagers were beaten and gang raped.
In a letter to the Akali Tange Association, Barrick Gold acknowledged encouraged that the raid took place, but said no mine personnel were involved, nor were they aware the raid would take place. The company disputed the organization’s numbers, encouraged it to present evidence to support a full investigation into the incident, and said the mine’s operators would consider all requests for humanitarian assistance arising from the police operation.
“It’s an extremely complex environment, one of the most challenging environments to operate a mine in the world,” said Lloyd of ongoing violence at the mine. “The mine and its owners will not be able to solve these challenges on its own. We need the government to be at the table, we need community leaders to be at the table.”
Gender-based violence is an issue across Papua New Guinea, he added, not just at the mine site. To help with the problem, the company has brought in a global human rights training program for all of its employees that includes a focus on gender-based violence.
“Nobody, as far as I’m aware is calling for the mine to be closed, so the challenge is, how do we actually address some of these persistent issues that have been there for 20 years? They’re not new and they’re not easy to solve.”
Dispute over compensation for survivors
According to Gaupe and Mandi, there’s a simple solution to Barrick’s conundrum.
“Maybe they should return to Canada and stay in Canada,” said Mandi in an interview. “I think it is best to stop this big Canadian gold miner, Barrick, from mining in our home country.”
Mandi, who was a school girl when she was raped by a group of Porgera mine security guards, is one of an untold number of women who have never received compensation from Barrick for their suffering. Ashamed of what had happened to her, she fled her village after the attack, she told National Observer.
She never heard that in 2012, the company launched a formal remediation program for female victims of sexual violence in the Porgera Valley. The first of its kind, it offered the women PGK50,000 (roughly $21,000) in compensation, and a promise that school fees and medical support would be provided for their children over the next three years.
But much of the latter has not been delivered, says Gaupe — one of 119 who did hear about the package and accepted it. When her husband found out that she had been raped, he abandoned her, leaving her alone to raise their children. She is now struggling to keep them healthy and in school, she says, as a single mother of four.
The remediation program has been widely criticized by industry watchdogs, who say many of the women didn’t understand the documents they were signing, and were led to believe that if they didn’t sign, they would get nothing. In accepting the package, the women also signed a controversial legal waiver that forfeited their rights to sue the company or seek further compensation for the same grievance.
In 2015, 11 survivors of sexual assault at the mine settled out of court with Barrick, for what was reportedly a much larger sum than was provided through the remediation package. In November last year, Gaupe — along with the other women who took that package — signed a letter seeking intervention from the officials at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva in their quest to receive compensation to match the sum received by the women who settled out of court.
Those sums have been kept confidential and National Observer could not confirm the numbers.
No plans to re-open remediation program
On Wednesday, at the shareholder’s meeting, Coumans of MiningWatch Canada demanded on their behalf that Barrick release them from the legal waiver preventing them from suing or seeking extra cash.
“Then at least the women can consider whether they have legal options,” she said. “I don’t think it’s good enough for Barrick to say, ‘This is a difficult environment.’ They are mining there, so they have a responsibility.”
Lloyd said the company has given the women who accepted its remediation package a cash “top up” since 2012, but has no plans to reopen the program. He acknowledged that Barrick’s own consultants identified problems with the program and how it was carried out, and that the violence experienced by the women is “completely unacceptable.”
Broadly speaking however, he said the Porgera mine is a “very positive contributor to the community.” It employs more than 2,000 people, and since Barrick Gold acquired its interest in 2006, the company has made substantial contributions to the Porgera District Women’s Association and the family and sexual violence unit of the local police, and has provided funds for new women’s welfare liaison officers, which provide an alternative avenue for women to report cases of abuse.
The efforts are of little comfort to Gaupe and Mandi. Mandi, who filed her complaint about her assault to the grievance office in Porgera and received a case number, hasn’t heard from a mining official in a year.
“I should tell Canadians that Barrick is a bad company and it should stop mining,” she said.
“No matter how long it takes, I will still keep on fighting until justice has been made,” added Gaupe.
Incidents plague Barrick mines around the world
Barrick Gold reported weaker-than-expected quarterly earnings on Monday, the day before the shareholder’s meeting. It also slashed its forecast for output and raised costs at its gold mine in Argentina, where a local judge is contemplating an order to shut it down.
The company had its third cyanide solution spill in 18 months at the Veladero mine in San Juan last month.
Responding to that incident, Lloyd said the company is confident it can operate the mine safely in the future and that the incident is “very disappointing.” The company has committed to “completely overhauling” its operations there, he added, to ensure “world class” oversight.
The Toronto-based company has previously been hit with a record US$16.4-million penalty in Chile, where it was found guilty of 23 violations of its environmental impact agreement at the Pascua Lama gold project on the Chile-Argentine border. The convictions included building earthworks without approval, failing to prevent runoff from mineral acid, and failing to tell the whole truth when it came to such operational failures.
The North Mara mine in Tanzania, 64 per cent owned by Barrick, has also suffered from steady violence by security guards, similar to the Porgera mine. Last year, a Tanzanian government inquiry found that at least 65 people have been killed and 270 have been injured at that operation since 2006.
Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand | 7 April 2017
A Canadian mining giant is again under the spotlight following allegations of police brutality during the forced eviction of villagers near their gold mine in Papua New Guinea.
Barrick Gold claims to have taken steps to address an appalling record of decades of violence at the Porgera Mine.
But a spate of recent allegations has some asking whether it’s doing enough.
Jo O’Brien reports
There are conflicting accounts of the police operation at Wangima village near the Porgera mine in late March. Cressida Kuala from the Porgera Red Warra Women’s Association believes nineteen houses were burnt down in the early morning raid.
“Children and women woke up at around 4 o’clock in the morning. The police personnel who were hired by the company, Barrick PJV went up to the village and chased them out of the area.”
The chairman of the Akali Tange Association Langan Muri says up to 50 houses were destroyed in the village, where about 100 homes were burnt down in two previous raids. He says they’ve received allegations police raped at least three girls during the latest operation and assaulted others.
“Police freely walked into the houses while they were sleeping and they have raped. The victims are still coming everyday to report to us. Some schoolgirls have been raped inside the houses.”
Locals believe the raid was ordered by Barrick Gold, the co-owners of the Porgera Mine. The company has yet to respond to RNZ International’s request for comment, but in a letter posted on its website it’s denied any involvement or prior knowledge of the operation. The independent monitor of policing activities in the area Ila Geno backs up their claim that police conducted the raid under a court warrant after evidence of illegal activity was found there.
“The perception that the police are paid by the company and subsequently they are also ordered by the company to do those things. But from my independent observation point of view police are not commanded by the company to carry out operations.”
But Sarah Knuckey, the director of the Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, says the exact nature of the relationship between Barrick Gold and police at the mine is unclear.
“There is apparently a written agreement between the government, police and the company but it’s never been made public and when you speak to police there, they say their accommodation, their food, their fuel is funded by the company. But it’s not easy to tell what the command structure is for the operations.”
And for Catherine Coumans from MiningWatch Canada, Barrick’s denials are problematic.
“If the company really didn’t have any knowledge that this was going to happen then it clearly needs to question why this gross violation of human rights on the company’s mine lease area, without the company knowing about it. And if the company did know about it then the company needs to come clean and account for why it’s asking police to carry out these raids.”
In the past few years Barrick Gold has undertaken measures to address longstanding concerns about abuses at the mine. Compensation has been paid to more than 130 women for acts of sexual violence and gang rape committed by security guards and police. Cressida Kuala says that remedy for victims is not enough and not everyone has been compensated. But she says steps by the company to improve training of security personnel had been making women feel safer – until now.
“Barrick is trying its best to train its police and the security on human rights disciplines. And it looks like police are aware of the human rights laws and still they are going ahead to do these things. I don’t know why. The police said they were just doing their duties on Barrick’s order.”
Sarah Knuckey from Columbia Law Schools says steps Barrick has announced such as improving the training, monitoring and reporting structures of police have been good on paper. But she says they’re still seeing serious allegations of violence at the mine and there needs to be more transparency about what the company is actually doing to respond to them.
“Over the last few years we saw a noticeable improvement. People reported feeling safer. However recently there’s reports of the village burning as well as the accompanying physical and sexual assaults. There’s also another report of a different set of sexual assaults two weeks prior and of assaults last year that the company has never responded to.”
Independent policing monitor Ila Geno, whose position is financed by the Government and Barrick Gold, says he’s also very concerned about human rights. He says the company is addressing the issue but individual police officers must also take responsibility.
“Training is adequate but the individual police application, that’s an issue where individual competency of a police officer in complying with those instructions.”
But Tyler Giannini, a director of the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic, says much more needs to be done to stop the cycle of violence. He says divisions between the company and the community run deep and trust needs to be built.
“Any complaint mechanism that they create needs to actually address all of the problems that the community has faced not only sexual violence, but also killings, assaults and deeper environmental issues that have been longstanding in the community. Until that happens I think you’re not going to have a stable development situation in the area.”
Human rights advocates are calling for the relocation of the 50,000 to 60,000 villagers who live near the mine. Sarah Knuckey says people tell her they are living like dogs and pigs just a few metres away from its factories.
“People are frequently sitting in tailings waste from the mine. They drink water out of blue buckets. They’re full of mosquitoes and dust and leaves. In many villages all night long you can hear the sound of the trucks very loud. The children find it very hard to get to sleep.”
Ms Knuckey says everyone who lives at the mine feels the “injustice of being the original owners of the land and the gold underneath it and seeing it literally being flown out of the country” while they live in squalor. She says the Canadians who own Barrick Gold would never accept such terrible conditions for their own families.
Radio New Zealand | April 6, 2017
A US human rights community says a Canadian mining company must condemn the violent eviction of villagers near its goldmine in Papua New Guinea.
A local human rights organisation, the Akali Tange Association claims police raped and assaulted villagers and burned down houses during an operation near the Porgera Mine.
The association has also accused the mine co-owners Barrick Gold of ordering the operation late last month.
The company has denied any involvement but Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic Director Sarah Knuckey said it must go further.
“The company Barrick Gold must immediately make a statement condemning the violent evictions and especially the practice of burning down homes and the alleged assaults. And then it should suspend its support for the police units involved,” said Sarah Knuckey.
Sarah Knuckey said their needs to be a truly independent investigation into the operation and its findings must be made public.
Radio New Zealand | 31 March 2017
A human rights group in Papua New Guinea is sticking to its allegation that a Canadian mining company is behind a police raid near the Porgera gold mine last weekend.
The Akali Tange Association now says about 50 houses were burnt down in the operation and that police raped and assaulted villagers.
The mine co-owners Barrick Gold deny any involvement and dispute the number of homes that were destroyed.
Barrick says the operation was conducted under warrants issued by the Porgera District Court after drugs and evidence of other illegal activity was found there.
The company says police had notified individuals the temporary structures would be removed in advance of the operation.
It says its investigating the incident and encourages the Akali Tange Association to produce names of victims of abuse.
The association’s Chairman Langan Muri talked to Jo O’Brien.
LANGAN MURI: Barrick-hired police have burnt down the houses up there, around 50 houses almost. That same village has been burned down previously and it adds up to more than a hundred. We believe that area belongs to Barrick. Any operation or whatever happens in that area has to be reported to Barrick. Barrick is supposed to know in advance before the police operations in those areas. So that operation up there in Wangima village is illegal and it’s abuse by the police personnel and Barrick.
JO O’BRIEN: Barrick are now saying that 18 structures were removed and that they didn’t know anything about the police operation?
LM: They should say 18 but it’s like they want to cover up the previous houses burnt in that same village. And now the incident happened again, and the police broke into the area and they seem to be saying that the Magistrate of Porgera has given them an order but it’s nothing to do with PNG Government because that area is leased area of Porgera Joint Venture. And Porgera Joint Venture is supposed to be giving instructions to policemen to walk down into the area, to burn down, do any operation in there. But why should the Magistrate of Porgera giving orders to burn down that village. Barrick is giving us false information that it’s Government that’s doing it, but actually it’s not Government. I want Barrick to relocate the entire village living around the area. Let the mining activities go ahead, people and pets, children playing around the mine site and company seems to be saying illegally trespassing and police every now and then shooting people, raping people, burning down houses. And I strongly call on the national Government and Barrick to relocate the people living around the areas.
JO: Your association initially said there were 150 houses burnt down. Do you mean that was including previous operations as well or was that all on the weekend?
LM: Exactly total previous up to 150 plus.
JO: So you’re saying there were 50 houses burnt down at the weekend is that right?
JO: The allegations about rape and violence, what can you say about that as to what happened over the weekend?
LM: Police walked into the houses while they were sleeping and they raped. The victims are still coming every day to report to us. Some school girls were being raped inside the houses while they were fast asleep.
JO: Do you have an idea of how many people were raped or beaten?
LM: Three have reported already to us, three school girls who have been raped. I couldn’t give you the exact number because people are still coming and when I am finalised with how many people were assaulted and raped I will give you figure.
JO: Barrick are saying that they were not aware that this operation was happening. But how do you know then that they are responsible?
LM: Barrick seems to be saying that permission was granted from a Magistrate up at Porgera but that area is a special mining lease for Barrick. Police officers, mobile squad and they are hired by Barrick so they are living in Barrick camps. It’s believed that Barrick has done is given a command to these employees because they are hired, paid and they are sleeping in the camps and it’s like employee of Barrick.