Abu Bakar Bashir, the well known spiritual leader of militant Islamic group, Jemaah Islamiya, has now joined forces with Indonesia’s largest environmental organisation, WALHI, to protest against US-based mining corporation Newmont.
I’ve previously written about the Buyat Bay saga – where Richard Ness and Newmont were accused of having polluted a fishing village and its fringing coral reef with mine tailings.
You may remember that the story made the front page of The New York Times and that five miners, including Australian Phil Turner, were arrested and thrown into a Jakarta jail in September 2004. Richard’s son Eric runs a blog on the saga entitled ‘Watching My Dad’s Trial’.
When the claims of pollution where investigated by The World Health Organisation and CSIRO they were found to be bogus – a hoax. You can read a summary of the saga in my latest piece for the IPA Review entitled Politics and the Environment in Indonesia. There are copies of both reports’ at Eric’s website.
Richard Ness and Newmont were cleared of all charges in April this year, but the finding has been appealed.
In her journalism master’s thesis entitled ‘Tall Tailings: Truth and Friction in the Buyat Mining Scandal’ Canadian Kendyl Salcito suggested some of the key protagonists in the saga are members of the Islamic organisation known as Hizb ut-Tahrir.
Muhammad Al Khaththah, the leader of the Indonesian chapter of Hizb-ut Tahrir, appears in the above photograph with Abu Bakar Bashir.
It is perhaps not surprising that militant environmental and Islamic organisations are joining forces, they both believe that issues of poverty and corruption are a consequence of capitalism and the exploitation of people and natural resources by large multinational corporations. As a consequence many Islamic and environmental activists want to close down mining in Indonesia – at least the most efficient, high tec, modern systems of mining. Interestingly they are supported by activists from countries like Australia and Canada – countries that continue to enjoy a high standard of living as a consequence, at least in part, of capitalism and mining.