Indigenous Papuans urge govt to investigate illegal mines in Manokwari

Photo illustration, illegal gold mining area. - Jubi/Doc

Manokwari, Jubi – Gold mining activities in Wasirawi Village, Masni District, Manokwari Regency, West Papua are reportedly illegal, or outside the control of the government and related institutions. This activity is suspected to be a massive and systematic practice of plundering natural resources.

Seblon Mandacan, one of the customary land owners where the Wasirawi gold mining site is, revealed several facts related to the allegedly illegal gold mining activities. He said that the community holding customary rights had taken steps to manage the gold potential independently through community cooperatives, but even that was unable to stem the rise of investors and illegal workers coming to the location.

“There is no single institution that monitors and manages mining activities in Wasirawi. There are many ‘entrances’ without going through the government or customary institutions who can control the negative impact of mining activities,” Mandacan told Jubi on Monday, January 10, 2022.

Apart from not being controlled, Mandacan said, Wasirawi’s gold mining activities use hundreds of excavators. “There are more than 100 excavators at the gold mining site in Wasirawi with more than 3,000 workers. So far they are running without any action from the authorities to stop them,” said Mandacan.

Mandacan, who is also the chairman of the Jaya Putra Manted Mandiri Cooperative, a community cooperative which provides transportation services to the Wasirawi mine site, urged the government and cultural institutions to immediately investigate, organize, and control the mines in Wasirawi.

“I myself have a cooperative that provides transportation services to mining sites. But I have seen too much fraud there that we as the owners of ulayat [land] rights feel disadvantaged,” he said.

“The government and cultural institutions of West Papua have the authority, as stipulated in the Special Autonomy Law, to regulate natural resources so that these resources are managed independently through community cooperatives. Don’t let the massive confiscation of our customary lands continue,” he added.

Throughout 2021, the West Papua Police and the law enforcement field (Gakkum) of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry in the West Papua region overlooked at the potential for environmental crimes from Wasirawi gold mining activities. Head of the West Papua Police Insp. Gen. Tornagogo Sihombing in a late 2021 release only reported 7 prominent cases but the illegal gold mining activities in the West Papua region was not included. (*)

Reporter: Hans Kapisa
Editor: Edho Sinaga

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