25 Nov – Anti-mining protestors have been hospitalized in Sumberagung Village, Banyuwangi in East Java after police opened fire on a riot protesting the presence of Bumi Sukesindo mining operations in the area.
Rioting began Wednesday afternoon after a meeting between locals and Bumi Sukesindo, the Banyuwangi District Sector Office and representatives of the local government at a hotel. After a brief stalemate rioting resumed around 8:00 p.m. until the early hours of Thursday morning.
“We’ve had enough. We just want the gold mining company closed,” RD, a local who refused to give his name, told tempo.co on Thursday morning. RD did not clarify what has prompted the change of heart among the community to the company which has been operating in the area since 2007.
“It was like a war,” Achmad, a local, said on Thursday.
Hundreds of Banyuwangi police officers were deployed to calm the rioting. Officers opened fire on the protestors after part of the crowd began setting houses alight and destroying motorcycles owned by Bumi Sukesindo.
Locals reported five people were injured by police fire, although police maintain only two were harmed.
“From what the officers have told me, there are only two locals [hurt by the shots], but I am still checking the real situation at the scene,” Adj. Sr. Comr. Bastoni Purnama said.
“There were only 400 officers deployed in the riots, completely outnumbered by the mass — thousands of them,” he said.
He also claimed that police “had no choice” but to use guns as the company’s assets, due to Bumi Sukesindo’s status as a legal mining company, are considered local assets and must be protected.
All injured protestors, including three allegedly assaulted by police, are receiving medical treatment