Residents oppose mining operation
Three people were held hostage by fellow residents for their support of the planned operation of mining company at Balaesang Tanjung district, Donggala regency, Central Sulawesi.
The three captives — Moh Ali Ridho, Busran Lanusi and Danse — were accused of supporting gold mining company PT Cahaya Manunggal Abadi’s (CMA) plans to operate in the area.
They were forced to seek shelter at a house in Walandano village on Wednesday as residents tried to prevent them from leaving the village to attend a meeting organized by CMA.
People began lobbing rocks at the house in which Ridho and his colleagues had gathered as the police tried to regain control over the situation.
Police personnel were able to pacify the crowd and secure the release of Ridho and his friends after the crowd agreed to allow their safe passage on Thursday afternoon. However, that safe passage came at a price.
“We guarantee their safety. They can come out of the house as long as they sign a letter saying they object to the presence of CMA,” said local resident Ihnar, 45.
Residents also blockaded access to the village from Balaesang Tanjung district, located around 75 kilometers north of Palu, Central Sulawesi, for seven hours by felling a large tree across the road.
“We blocked the road on purpose as a form of protest and rejection of the presence of CMA in our area,” said another resident Amiruddin Lanusi.
The blockade was lifted after Balaesang Police chief Adj. Comr. Teguh Basuki guaranteed that Ridho and his colleagues would meet the demands of the antimining community.
Teguh and Donggala Police Sabhara Unit chief Adj. Sr, Comr. Budi Mulyanto later facilitated a meeting with representatives from the antimining community, during which Ridho, Lanusi and Danse were strong-armed into signing an letter rejecting the presence of CMA, which holds a 5,000-hectare concession area in Balaesang Tanjung, and apologizing to residents for their support of the mine.
After the meeting, Ridho and friends were evacuated and placed under protective custody at the police station. “They will be allowed to leave after the situation improves,” Teguh said.
Deputy Regent Ali Lasamaulu said that the hostage incident over PT CMA, which had only recently gained its concession permit, was due to miscommunication. “The company should have been reaching out to the grass roots to inform them about their presence,” he said.
Ali was reported to be member of company’s board of commissioners, which he flatly denied.
“Who said I am a commissioner? Where did you get that information from?” he said.