Indonesian police have shot and killed one protester and wounded at least six others when they clashed with striking workers at a mine run by US company Freeport McMoran, a union official said. More than 1,000 workers were involved in the clashes on Monday at the Grasberg complex, one of the world’s biggest gold and copper mines, in Indonesia’s Papua province.
“A protester was killed from a gunshot fired by police and another was shot in the chest,” Virgo Solossa, an official for the mine workers’ union, said. He identified the dead man as 30-year-old Petrus Ayemsekaba. A doctor at a local hospital confirmed that one person was killed by a gunshot
Union leader Manuel Maniambo said thousands of striking workers were trying to prevent replacement workers from heading by bus to the mine, high up in the mountains. Blocked by security forces, some of them became angry, throwing rocks and yelling insults.
An AFP reporter at the scene said that workers damaged the entry gate at a mining terminal and burned three food delivery trucks.
The troops responded with gunfire, killing one worker and leaving another hospitalised in critical condition, said Maniambo. A Papua police spokesman Wachyono said at least seven police were hurt in the incident. He blamed the striking workers, saying security forces had no choice but to fire warning shots after they became violent.
“It was complete anarchy … they were attacking the police,” he said.
The striking miners are demanding that their current minimum wage of less than $2 an hour be raised to globally competitive levels. Union representatives say that Freeport’s Papuan workers, who are mostly indigenous Melanesians, receive the lowest wages of any Freeport mining facility in the world.