|Guards accused of assaulting workers|
by Nick O'Malley, Sydney Morning Herald
June 10th, 2009
VILLAGERS are keeping a list of the dozens of people they say have been killed or assaulted by police and security forces guarding a goldmine in Papua New Guinea run by the multinational, Australian-based Canadian mining company, Barrick Gold.
"In one generation, the mine has brought militarisation, corruption and environmental devastation to a land that previously knew only subsistence farming and alluvial mining," said activist Jethro Tulin, who with international human rights groups is seeking Australian intervention to end the violence.
MiningWatch Canada has written to the Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, asking him to appeal publicly to the PNG Government to "stop immediately the burning of houses in villages located within the special mine lease area of Barrick Gold's Porgera mine". The mine is operated by Barrick's regional headquarters in Perth.
Violence has escalated in the Porgera valley since the mine began operating in 1990, attracting tens of thousands of internal migrants and fostering black markets in guns, drugs, mercury and stolen gold.
In April the PNG Government declared a six-week state of emergency and sent in 200 extra police. The police crackdown has since been extended. In the operation police razed the homes of alleged illegal internal migrants.
Activists claim the homes of many locals were destroyed in the action, which they say was conducted in Barrick's interests.
Barrick denies responsibility for destroying homes and any deaths and says many of the actions the activists complain about occurred before it took control in 2006.