Voice of Papua: Prioritize Papuans to Work at the New Freeport's Smelter in Gersik!

Papuan People's Council to propose to Indonesia central government to prioritize Papuans to work at new Smelter in Gersik, East Java.

The Papuan People's Council (MRP) will write to the central government asking for a guarantee of a special policy to prioritize indigenous Papuans working in the smelter of PT Freeport Indonesia which is currently being built in East Java.

This was stated by Deputy Chairperson I of the Papuan People's Assembly, Yoel Luiz Mulait, on Tuesday (26/10/2021), as quoted from MRP's website. Mulait said that he received information that the smelter being built by PT Freeport Indonesia (PTFI) in Gresik, East Java, will employ 40 thousand employees.

According to Mulait, indigenous Papuans as the group most affected by PT Freeport Indonesia's mining activities in Mimika Regency, Papua, must get a special allocation of work opportunities of up to 50 percent of the total workers who will be employed by the smelter.

"We will convey (to central government), from the 40 thousand workers, it will be divided equally by 20 (thousands for indigenous Papuans), 20 (thousands) for non-Papuans. (The proposal) will go through a mechanism process at the institution, (agreed) through a plenary (meeting of MRP), so that there are no more small bugs who say that (the proposal) is an invalid decision," said Mulait.

Deputy Chairperson I of the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP), Yoel Luiz Mulait.
Deputy Chairperson I of the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP), Yoel Luiz Mulait. (Photo: MRP)

Mulait stated that the results of the plenary meeting would later be conveyed through the MRP's official letter to the central government. Mulait also wants the government and PT Freeport Indonesia to build a mechanism to involve the MRP in filling out the allocation of 20 thousand job vacancies for indigenous Papuans.

“We will officially write to the government, (so that) 20,000 (papuans) are accepted (based on) the recommendation from the MRP, and all those who are accepted must be black with curly hair, must be native Papuans. We don't want (other) people going in and out of work, (while) the MRP doesn't know," said Mulait.

Mualit emphasized that the MRP would take this step, because the central government had declined the Papua Provincial Government's request for PTFI to build a smelter in Papua. Mulait reminded that PT Freeport Indonesia's mining activities are carried out in Papua, and that indigenous Papuans are the group most affected by PTFI's mining activities.

"The MRP will not be silent about our rights, our natural resources are Papuans, which should be prioritized for us Papuans, but then (the smelter) will be built in East Java. We must not lose the rights of indigenous Papuans as "ulayat" (traditional) owners and also mine owners," said Mulait.

Mulait reminded that if the central government wants to prove that Indonesia is not only exploiting Papua's natural resources, then indigenous Papuans must be prioritized as PTFI smelter workers.

“If you really want to build (Papua), not only want to take natural resources there, but also build human resources, workers cannot be from East Java. There must be a portion for ulayat (traditional) rights owners,” said Mulait.

Previously, on October 19, 2021, Timotius Murib, chairman of the Papuan People's Council also stated his dissatisfaction toward the central government's decision to build the smelter out side of Papua.