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Miner on hold as students start fast

Hunger-strikers condemn shooting of protesters during recent rally

Rice fields near the mine site on Sumbawa Rice fields near the mine site on Sumbawa
  • Albertus V Rehi, Kupang
  • Indonesia
  • December 28, 2011
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An Australian miner said today it has put a stop to gold exploration on Sumbawa island after three people were shot dead by police at the weekend during a protest rally at the port of Sape.

The move, in a statement by Arc Exploration to Australia's stock exchange, came as dozens of university students in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara province, began a hunger strike to protest against land grabbing and what they call irresponsible mining across the country.

The students condemned the Sumbawa deaths, which police now admit was an "over-reaction", according to a report on ABC.

Students from several universities, including Catholic ones, have joined the hunger strike which will run until December 30.

"Stop taking land from people and investigate the shootings in Bima [Sumbawa],” demanded coordinator Willibrordus Soeharly referring to the shooting by Indonesian police of the anti-mining protesters who were blocking access to Sape seaport on the eastern end of the island.

The students also accused the government of having contempt for its own people in Papua and many other areas where controversial mining is taking place.

Muhammad Ishak of the Muhammadiyah Students Association called on police to stop torturing and killing anti-mining protesters. “It is time to stop mining activities in East and West Nusa Tenggara provinces,” said Ishak.

Irresponsible mining is a national issue and has united all environmental activists, he added.

The students said the killings on Sumbawa show a failure of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the governor and law enforcers to protect their own people, and how willing they are to give in to foreign investors.

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