14 Oct 2011

Papua congress imminent as Freeport mine conflict escalates

12:28 pm on 14 October 2011

Papua's third national congress is scheduled to begin in Jayapura this weekend, as the conflict surrounding the Freeport mine in the Indonesian province escalates.

About eight-thousand mine workers, widely acknowledged to be the mining company's lowest paid employees in the world, have been on strike for a month in a bid for much higher wages.

The news agency AFP reports that more than one-thousand workers blocked the road to the huge Grasberg gold and copper operation on Wednesday.

The blockade followed a violent clash between police and striking workers two days earlier in which police fatally shot one man and critically injured seven others.

In an open letter to the international community, the Papua National Leadership says more than five-thousand people will participate in the congress, out of which a new national body will be established.

The letter states that the new Papua National Council will elect leaders for Papua and West Papua as well as formally recovering and restoring the provinces' independence.