Porgera rights activist arrested in PNG

4:04 pm on 24 April 2017

A human rights activist was arrested for allegedly "spreading misinformation" after another attack at the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea's Enga province.

Porgera mine.

Porgera mine. Photo: wikicommons / Richard Farbellini

Out on bail after 30 hours in custody, McDiyan Robert Yapari said police abused him for defaming them.

Mr Yapari's human rights group, last week, said a person was fatally shot, and another critically wounded in the latest unrest at the controversial Porgera mine.

The Akale Tangi Association said guards opened fire on two people panning for gold on mine property

The mine's major shareholder, Canadian company Barrick, has been consistently criticised for rights abuses in neighbouring villages, particularly at the hands of security contractors.

Mr Yapari had gone to police to request an investigation into alleged forced evictions by police in the mine area.

He said he was later arrested while being stripped of clothes and belongings, and had his mobile phone confiscated.

Mr Yapari is, this week, to attend a hearing on what is understood to be a charge related to spreading misinformation, or defamation.

Meanwhile, local police hired for security provisions by Barrick have said the Association's claim that they carried out forced evictions at Wingima without a warrant was biased.

Mr Yapari said his efforts to raise attention to this resulted in his arrest.

"Upon going back to the cell blocks, I wrote an email without fear to Barrick's Corporate & Legal President Peter Sinclair informing him of my arrest by his company's hired Police Personnel," he said.

Mr Yapari said that despite what he claimed was mistreatment by police while in custody, he would not shirk from continuing to raise concern about the abuses at Porgera.

"ATA as an organisation will advocate and without fear of reprisal directly tell or inform of any human rights abuses committed by a corporate, private or public sector when it sees and feels that the local indigenous rights are abused or violated..."

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