What We Are Doing With Your Money: Papua New Guinea Campaign
Cultural Survival is helping Papua New Guinea organizations raise funds so that Indigenous landowners of Madang province can fight in court against the proposed Ramu Nickel Mine, which would dump millions of tons of toxic waste into coastal waters, threatening marine life and the human communities that depend on it. When the National Court issued an injunction prohibiting the Chinese owners of the Ramu mine from dumping tailings into the sea, the government responded by passing a law specifically intended to enable the mine to go forward. The new law, an amendment to the Environment Act, criminalizes protests against any corporate “development” project that has been authorized by the Department of Environment and Conservation (as has the Ramu mine). It also prohibits landowners from appealing for compensation if such a project does damage to their property. Armed with the new law, the Chinese mining company and the government challenged the injunction, but the court held firm, forcing the matter to go to a full trial in August. John Chitoa at the Bismarck Ramu Group in PNG wrote, “What used to be a local campaign in Madang is now a nation-wide issue, and this could lead to the downfall of the ruling party—the National Alliance headed by the current Prime Minister.” He added that for the injunction to be in place for 90 days “is history for the country. Without your support we could not have come this far.”
Currently Cultural Survival is helping PNG lawyer Tiffany Nonggorr, who is fighting the case alone, to get funding to fly American and European marine biologists to Papua New Guinea to testify at the upcoming trial. We’re also providing her with materials related to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the International Labor Organization Convention 169, which provide a framework for the court to see how Indigenous Peoples’ rights should be implemented in cases such as this one.