Police told to pull out
of Bangka Island

Local residents, along with several environment activists, urged the National Police to pull their force out of the peaceful island settlement of Bangka Island, North Sulawesi, in accordance with a Supreme Court ruling.

During a meeting with National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti in Jakarta on Friday, the activists called for the withdrawal of police escorts for mining company PT Mikgro Metal Prime (MMP) on the small island after its permit was overturned by a Supreme Court ruling last September.

Mining corporations are barred from pursuing activities on the small island according to Law No. 27/2007 on the management of coastal areas and small islands.

Activists helped the residents after the Hong Kong company did not cease activities. PT MMP’s exploration permits were revoked as a result of Supreme Court Decree No. 291k/TUN/2013 issued last year on Sept. 24 in Jakarta.

Badrodin said that the police would be powerless as long as the North Minahasa Regent Sompie Singal did not abide by the court ruling and revoke the mining permit.

Activists also claimed that the South Sulawesi Police were siding with the mining company, as they allegedly refused to settle with the community.

“That means the police escorts are one of them [the mining company],” said activist spokesman and local musician Akhadi Wira Satriaji, who is better known as Kaka Slank.

The residents also complained that after the mining permit was declared invalid, the situation on the island of Bangka should have returned to normal. Despite having their permit revoked, MMP continued to transport heavy-duty equipment.

The activists also submitted a list of cases to Badrodin, in which residents were criminalized for rallying against MMP. They hoped the deputy chief would take stern action.

“I think the regent is being stubborn,” exclaimed Kaka, when told the case is currently in the hands of Regent Sompie.

Kaka said that representatives from the island community had gone to Jakarta twice to advocate, only to be met with indifference.

“Up until now, there is no clear solution in sight. We’ll continue to fight [for the cause],” said Kaka, who was accompanied by members of, Greenpeace and the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi).

At the meeting, Kaka also submitted a petition with more than 19,000 signatories. The deputy chief promised to check the conditions on the field.

Badrodin briefly called the North Sulawesi Police chief in response to the activists’ appeals. He also assured that the police would take action against the company if they commenced mining activities without permission.

“The case has been forwarded to the North Sulawesi Police to help resolve the case in the best possible way,” said National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Ronny Sompie.

Ronny, who was also at the meeting, suggested that the North Sulawesi Police request that the company remove its heavy equipment so that the police no longer need to provide escort. (tjs)

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