Amnesty criticises PNG police crackdown on illegal miners

Police crackdowns on illegal miners in PNG have attracted strong criticism from Amnesty International, which has characterised police actions as “horrific”.

Police have burned down 200 homes in the Enga Province, near
the Barrick-owned Porgera gold mine.

An Australian man attempting to photograph the incident was injured in a violent clash that followed the police attack.

Amnesty International Pacific researcher Kate Schuetze said
the tactic, which police said was intended to target illegal miners, was
excessive and constituted horrific and unjustifiable acts which have left many
people homeless.

“That’s
not really a solution to any of these issues,” she said.

“You certainly don’t solve it by burning down people’s
homes and what we’re seeing is this ‘tit for tat’ sort of response which is
entirely inappropriate for a credible police force.

“There needs to be proper investigation into what’s
happening and those people responsible need to be held accountable, so if there
are accusations that people have acted unlawfully by engaging in illicit mining
activities then that needs to go through a justice process the same as the
accusations of sexual assault, the accusations of violence and the accusations
of burnt down homes.”

Scheutze said there have been a number of human rights
violations against villagers in the area, including sexual assault by security
contractors.

Local MP Nixon Mangape said hundreds of families had been
left homeless as a result of the police raid.

It was claimed the houses burnt belonged to local landowners
from the Tiene tribe.

Mangape called on both Barrick and the PNG government to
provide compensation for the burnt houses.

“This is the second time this village was burnt down. The
first one was done during the first state of emergency call out operation some
six years ago which never solved the problem,” Mangape said.

“Why is Barrick not looking at long term solutions like
relocating the people out of the special mining lease area? Burning houses in a
particular village in the special mining lease area will not solve the illegal
mining problem. It’s adding more fuel to a burning fire.”

Image: ABC

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