Campaigners human rights challenged by government and mining company in public forum

George Ireng, the  kid from Madang who has  become  an ever deepening thorn in the side of  MCC, the Chinese government company that owns the Ramu Nickel Mine, has again made the developer and the PNG government uncomfortable.

Arriving at a Deep Sea Tailings placement  awareness meeting at Madang’s provincial headquarters, George immediately  became the center of unwanted attention.   MCC representative, James Wang, obviously uncomfortable with his presence, wanted to know what an “NGO” representative was doing at the meeting.

The Madang provincial government’s  mining liaison officer John Bivi, then called  on landowners from Raikos to decide if George should remain in the meeting. And what answer do you get from a roomful of landowner cousins and uncles?  George stays.

“I’m from Bongu (Raikos district), I have a right to be here,”  George said.  “You can’t say I’m from an NGO and  remove me. I don’t belong to a  non-government  organization. I came here as an individual.”

What is it that has made him so unpopular with the owners of the US1.4 billion dollar project in Madang?  Three months ago, George set up a group  page on “Facebook”  called “We say no to deep sea waste disposal in Basamuk Bay.”    

Five hours after the page was created, more than 200 people joined. Three months on, current membership stands at over 1400.

The Basamuk campaign  challenges  the controversial plan by the Chinese to dump 100 million tons of waste into the bay over the 30 year life of the Ramu Nickel Mine. The creation of the page was accompanied with an online petition that sought global support  to stop the dumping of mine waste into  the bay.

Early last month, George held an awareness meeting attended by more than 600 people in the Astrolabe Bay area. It marked the  start of a local push to get  at least 10 thousand signatures for a petition which will be presented to the Madang Governor, Sir Arnold Amet on the 10th of  April.

George gets a staggering amount of international support from Papua New Guineans living overseas and from scientists and lawyers who are offering free advice on sea tailings placement. 

However George’s push for justice hasn’t come without a downside. At  the awareness meeting, he was verbally attacked by government representatives  who accused him of  misinforming people. But he has indicated it’s a small personal setback  that doesn’t  affect the whole campaign at all.

Late last month, came the latest  milestone of the Basamuk campaign when Madang Governor, Sir Arnold Amet announced he was going to travel to Bongu village  to receive the petition in person.

All this is happening  against a backdrop of an indefinite court injunction that prevents MCC from building a deep sea tailings placement system. 

Comments

Thank you George for taking up the fight to stand up for your people and your country. I am proud of your effort and am fully behind you with my moral support.
Wanbel. Wanbel.

This reveals the true identity of a Madang man -(someone with a heart for the present and future generations of Madang) and that's the direction that every true Madang man/woman or even PNGean should take. I personally and very much appreciate your moves, George. Stand Firm!

Thanks for good information that comes out to

read.

George
Keep up the good work as what you and other landowners are doing is a fight for the rest of the Madang community that rely on the wonderful unspoilt coastline for fishing ,swimming etc.The developers & so called goverment experts have never for themselves gone for a swim in polluted waters and felt the difference cause they never will .
All they are interested in is how much they can make out of the mine and not care one bit, what the tailings will do for our coastline enviroment.

My two sons hail from beautiful Madang. Please keep up the good fight George, our prayers are with you.

George, I am proud that you are one of very few people who stand up and take up the fight against a bunch of greedy, self centred bereaucrats, politicians and multinationals.

You have my support and many others out there who have not spoken out.

Ralph
Lae