Information on the Moffett Building Controversy, January 1996

  • With a rags-to-riches life, generous UT regent never forgets socialist roots, Austin American-Statesman, January 4, 1996, p. A1. A biographical sketch of Bernard Rapoport, chairman of the UT board of regents. Includes an extensive itemization of major financial donations by Rapoport. "After Cunningham left the Freeport board, Rapoport said Cunningham's dual roles had become a conflict of interest in the public eye, and the chancellor did the right thing by quitting the board."

  • INDONESIA-MIGRATION: Poverty Tracks Provincial Migrants. Pratap Chatterjee, IPS, January 7, 1996.

  • Freeport-McMoRan generous in its donations to Texas, U. S. lawmakers, Austin American-Statesman, January 9, 1996, p. A1. A good review of Freeport financial contributions to politicians.

  • Freeport threatens suit against newsletter's editor over accusations, Austin American-Statesman, January 10, 1996, p. B1. "An unnamed - and, by one account, nonexistent - editor of a newsletter in New Orleans has been threatened with legal action by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold. This brings to eight the number of letters sent by Freeport warning of possible litigation if `false and damaging accusations' are made about its human rights record in Indonesia."

  • Faculty outraged at Freeport threats, Daily Texan, January 11, 1996.
    • "`I think a lot of people who were wavering [on the issue] have moved over to strong resistance to the naming of the building,' David Hillis, professor of zoology, said. `There was already strong resistance, but it has solidified. Hillis added that he believes 'that there will be several different actions taken by faculty members.'"
    • "Gordon Novak, an associate professor of computer sciences, said that it bothered him that Freeport provided no specifics on what libelous information was being spread. Novak added that the letters were a clear attack on free speech. `To my mind free speech is more important than all of Moffett's money,' he said."

  • Jim Bob Moffett to Critics: "Shut Up", Texas Observer, January 12, 1996, p. 4.

  • A damning assessment of Freeport-McMoRan's role as a business operating in Indonesia, Naked City column, Robert Bryce, Austin Chronicle, January 12, 1996. "Wirth (U. S. Undersecretary of State) described Freeport as being `in the sort of colonial position of 100 years ago.'"

  • Professors say Freeport's threats imperil free speech, Austin American-Statesman, January 16, 1996, p. A1.
    • "Nevertheless, Novak (professor of computer sciences) said: `To my mind it's inconceivable for a university to have a building named after a man who's threatening to sue professors for free speech.'"
    • "Lowell Lebermann Jr., a regent from Austin, said a quarrel between Freeport officials and faculty members has nothing to do with the naming of the building. `Those are two completely distinct and separate issues in my mind,' he said. `The one belongs to them (the professors) and the other belongs to us (the regents),' Lebermann said."
    • "Ellen Clarke Temple, a regent from Lufkin, said she didn't believe the litigation threat had any bearing on the name of the building."
    • "UT Austin President Robert Berdahl agreed. `I don't think there's a whole lot more that can be said on the Freeport issue,' Berdahl said. `It has been talked about every which way and I just don't think there's anything to be said on it, and I don't think it's news anymore. I have already said I don't think the decision should be changed, and I stand by that.'"

  • Cunningham Controversy Continues, Naked City column, Robert Bryce, Austin Chronicle, January 19, 1996, p. 19. Concerns the Cline-Cunningham correspondence. "`I'm troubled,' said Cline, who believes that Cunningham may have resigned from Freeport's board simply to clear the path for the company to sue UT faculty."

  • USAID `Deeply Offended' by Freeport advertisement, Robert Bryce, Austin Chronicle, January 19, 1996, p. 24. "The administrator of the US Agency for International Development, J. Brian Atwood, is none too happy with Freeport CEO Jim Bob Moffett. In a December 7 letter obtained by the Chronicle, Atwood excoriates Moffett for the full-page advertisements the company bought in the December 5 issue of The New York Times."

  • Indonesia: Struck by a golden spear, Robert Bryce, Reuters, January 18, 1996. Reprinted with permission of the author. (Also The Guardian, January 17, 1996) "Last March, when RTZ managing director Bob Wilson agreed to invest $1.7bn in Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold's vast Grasberg mine 2,700 miles east of Jakarta, Indonesia, he probably believed he was getting a good deal on a share of the world's largest gold deposit. But while RTZ may profit handsomely from its partnership with US-based Freeport in Irian Jaya (West Papua), it has also stumbled onto a motherlode of controversy - just as Royal Dutch Shell found itself at the centre of an international controversy in Nigeria."

  • U. S. finds no evidence of abuses by Freeport, Austin American-Statesman, January 20, 1996, p. A1.
    • "`I can confirm that the embassy has found no credible evidence substantiating charges of human rights abuses by Freeport personnel,' said Craig Stromme, spokesman for the (U. S.) embassy (in Indonesia).
    • "The executive director of the Australian group (ACFOA) described the U. S. Embassy's comments as `interesting.' Janet Hunt of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid also said her group stands by its call for an examination of Freeport's role by an independent organization such as the International Commission of Jurists or Amnesty International. Hunt said it is difficult to asses the U. S. statements without a deeper understanding of the extend of the embassy's reviews. Human rights activists and environmentalists contend that none of the investigations focused specifically on Freeport."
    • "The embassy spokesman declined to elaborate on the review."

  • Hostage drama is latest episode involving Indonesian rebel group, Austin American-Statesman, January 20, 1996, p. A7. (More information on these kidnappings is available on the West Papua mailing list "reg.westpapua"; write cscheiner@igc.apc.org to join. Below we include only a few extracts from this article explicitly mentioning Munninghoff's report or Freeport. See also http://www.uq.oz.au/jrn/host1.html).
    • "Four of (OPM rebel leader) Kwalik's relatives were seized by Indonesian soldiers in October 1994, according to a report by Hermann Munninghoff, a Catholic bishop who is helping mediate the hostage crisis. The relatives were tortured and never seen again, his report said."
    • "The article also said that Kwalik had written to `the chief executive' of Freeport early in 1994 offering to negotiate. The letter sought pigs and other food for an OPM flag-raising ceremony, (Sydney Morning Herald reporter) Bohane wrote. But on the day of the ceremony, Indonesian troops attacked the gathering. `It was clear the letter had been passed on to Indonesian intelligence,' the article said. Paul S. Murphy, executive vice president and director of P. T. Freeport Indonesia, the Indonesian affiliate of Freeport Cooper & Gold, sent a sharply worded reply to the Sydney Morning Herald. ... `Any suggestion that PTFI was in any way responsible for the clash between the Indonesian army and the OPM at a well-publicized flag-raising in the Tsinga village is patently false,' Murphy wrote."

  • Freeport under siege, Far Eastern Economic Review, January 25, 1996. (Report of this article received from Carmel Budiardjo, tapol@gn.apc.org.) Reports that altogether twelve members of the Indonesian army are facing courts martial in the deaths of 22 civilians in Irian Jaya (West Papua).
    • "More recently, at a briefing for Freeport executives in the company's headquarters at Timika, Moffett left nobody in any doubt about his views on non-governmental organisations. Describing Grasberg as the worlds greatest mine, he said: This is not a job for us, it's a religion."
    • "... some (Indonesian Human Rights) commission members feel the company (Freeport) should have been faster to blow the whistle in the military excesses; the case of the captain now facing court martial didn't come to light until Freeport complained about him in an unrelated matter."
    • "Freeport which owns virtually all of the transport in Irian Jaya, is under contract with the government to drop supplies to the military and conduct humanitarian tasks."
    • "As a result, Freeport is not only the largest employer in the region but also has reluctantly slipped into the role of civil administrator. It's a Wild West boom-town situation, says Paul Murphy, Freeport's executive Vice-President. All you have is Freeport and the army. What is needed is a lot more attention from the civil authorities. It's not our role to be all things to all people. We ought to be paying for it, but we shouldn't be running it ourselves."
    • "On a visit in September, members of the state-appointed human rights commission were shocked at the lack of administration in Timika. They were also surprised that Irian Jaya's governor, Jacob Pattipi, was unaware of the human rights violations when he met them."

  • Guerrillas link Freeport mine to hostage situation, Austin American-Statesman, January 27, 1996, p. A2. (Some passages mentioning Freeport.)
    • "A spokesman in Australia for guerrillas holding 13 hostages in Indonesia said the group's demands include environmental and social improvements by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., operators of a huge mine in the province of Irian Jaya (West Papua)."
    • "`Freeport workers have a five-star hotel in the middle of a jungle and the workers enjoy the luxury life,' (Otto) Ondawame said. `The Amungme people have become poor in their own rich land.'"
    • "Paul Murphy, a Freeport executive in Indonesia, is quoted in Time magazine's Jan. 29 Australian edition as saying that the kidnappings have nothing to do with the company. (Freeport spokesman Bill) Collier confirmed that this was the company's view."
    • "Time magazine reported that the hostages may have been abducted in error. The magazine said Irian Jaya (West Papua)'s governor, Jacob Pattipi, says the OPM (Organisasi Papua Merdeka) mistook a team of conservationists for Freeport employees. However, other press accounts make no mention of the mine as a central issue in the kidnappings."

  • 60 killed in Irian Jaya (West Papua) over past 19 months, say churches, Sydney Morning Herald, Greg Roberts, January 27, 1996. "At least 60 civilians have been killed in Irian Jaya (West Papua) over the last 19 months by the Indonesian military in a concerted effort to extinguish the OPM, according to church, community and Indonesian Government sources. Another 37 civilians are missing and presumed dead, most abducted from homes or workplaces by soldiers and never seen again. Most of the dead and missing lived in the Timika and Tembagapura areas, where controversy surrounds the operation of the huge gold and copper mine on Mt. Grasberg owned by an American corporation, Freeport-McMoRan."

  • Loyola board votes to keep Freeport money, Times-Picayune, January 27, 1996. (Full text at Lexis-Nexis.) "Loyola University's Board of Trustees voted Friday to keep a $600,000 gift from Freeport-McMoRan, even though the company had demanded the money back." But an article the next day says "John Levert, chairman of the Loyola University Board of Trustees, said Saturday that the board has not decided what to do with a $600,000 gift from Freeport -McMoRan."

  • Caught in the crossfire, Sydney Morning Herald, Greg Roberts, January 27, 1996. (Report of this article received from Carmel Budiardjo, tapol@gn.apc.org.)
    • "Last week in Tembagapura (modern town of 15,000 and the operations base owned by Freeport-McMoRan), a Papuan man cowered on his knees at the feet of an Indonesian soldier. A gun was aimed at his head as troops kicked him and screamed abuse at him."
    • "Many villagers around Tembagapura and nearby Timika have ABRI troops stationed in them. Reports of beatings and rapes are commonplace. Girls as young as seven are seen scurrying quietly from troop quarters in the evenings. Movements from villagers are often subject to military permission. 'People everywhere are very afraid of the soldiers', says Tom Beanal, a leader of the highland's Amungme tribe. 'They have to ask the soldiers before they do anything.'"
    • "In the lowland town of Timika, according to church and community sources, a 100-strong military contingent controls a string of illegal brothels and gambling dens. Soldiers extort monthly payments from farmers. Many of the predominantly Muslim troops appear intolerant of the religious practices of the devoutly Christian Papuans, with some of the worst abuses occurring during church and prayer meetings."
    • "'Remote areas are completely under the control of the military and they do anything they like', says Brother Theo van der Broek, a prominent Catholic clergyman in the capital Jayapura. 'If anyone defies them, they face the most extreme consequences. Nothing will stop them if they go after someone.' van der Broek should know. One of his close friends, the Irianese intellectual Arnold Ap, was murdered by troops in 1984. A Catholic priest in Timika, Fr. Nato Gobay, says: 'The military thinks that everyone is OPM and treats everyone like OPM'."
    • "In parts of Irian Jaya (West Papua), Jakarta appears to return little of the wealth it acquires from mining and other development. Indonesia last year received $360 million in taxes and royalties from the Freeport mine. Yet in the lowland village of Kwamki Lama, established in 1978 to provide a 'better quality of life' for highlanders, poverty and disease are rampant among the 5,000 inhabitants. Many were displaced from the 2.4 million hectares of mining concessions - about 1.5% of Irian Jaya (West Papua) - controlled by Freeport and associated companies. Children with distended bellies testify to acute malnutrition. An outbreak of cholera killed at least 32 people last June. Van der Broek says some lowland settlements have become a 'kind of hell' for displaced highlanders, with populations decimated with malaria and other diseases to which they are unaccustomed. There is no running water or electricity in Kwamki Lama and roads have not been upgraded for 20 years. Timika is just 10kms away but the contrast could not be sharper. Timika is a rapidly growing and thoroughly Asian town, complete with rickshaws and bustling roadside stalls."

  • UT building mired in integrity debate; Donor defended against critics of his firm, Dallas Morning News, January 28, 1996, p. A1.
    • "`There's no doubt that he (Moffett) values the University of Texas beyond ... other than his family and his commitments to his professional position,' said Freeport spokesman Bill Collier." (This quotation reflects a correction printed on January 29.)
    • "`If the university looks like they want to put their integrity up for sale, I will continue to protest this kind of action,' said Tyson Slocum, a senior government student, who was arrested for trespassing during the peaceful protest (last summer)."
    • "In a rare interview on the subject, Dr. Cunningham said the letters and his resignation were unrelated. `It was a personal decision,' he said. `In my mind, my relation with Freeport had become a distraction in terms of my job at the university.' He said the distraction included frequent requests for comments about his Freeport connections. Dr. Cunningham said that criticism attempting to link Freeport to pollution or human rights abuses are unjustified. He said the Moffetts `have both been great contributors to the university. It's very sad that they have been maligned by a relatively small number of individuals.' Dr. Cunningham also said that he had no conflict of interest in the naming of the building. `I did solicit the gift from the Moffetts and I did recommend that the building be named after the Moffetts. On the other hand, everyone knew that I was on the board of Freeport-McMoRan and my recommendation had to be approved by the board of regents,' he said."
    • "Mr. Rapoport said the regents have not discussed any reconsideration of the Moffett building, although he said he's well aware of the protests. He said (he) believes Mr. Moffett to be an honorable person, and that the concerns raised have involved his company, for which the building is not named."
    • "Still, students promise the protests will continue until the name of the building is changed. `Freeport threatening to sue faculty has gotten people riled,' said Bill Medaille, an officer in Students for Earth Awareness at UT, an environmental group with about 50 members."

  • Moving into Moffett building upsets some; 'Moral grounds' faculty's primary concern, Daily Texan, January 29, 1996. "The controversy surrounding the name of the new molecular biology building has raised moral and safety concerns among faculty members about moving into the facility and complicated the search for a director, UT officials said."

  • Trial in Indonesia's Irian Jaya (West Papua) begins, Japan Economic Newswire, January 29, 1996. (Full text at Lexis-Nexis.) "An Indonesian military court opened Monday a trial over alleged human rights violations by the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) soldiers last July in Timika, Irian Jaya (West Papua) Province, in which 16 civilians were reportedly killed, the state-run news agency Antara said. Antara reported that privates Titus Kobegau, N.H. Renyaan and Laode Yahnudin are being tried in the Military Court in the Irian Jaya (West Papua) capital of Jayapura for violating a chapter in the Indonesian Criminal Law 'by claiming other people's lives.'"

  • Berdahl asks faculty to stop debate over building's name, Austin American-Statesman, January 30, 1996, p. B1. (See Berdahl's remarks in his prepared statement.) "Faculty Council Member Alan Cline, one of the professors threatened with being sued, said he would ask the council to vote next month to investigate the naming of the James and Louise Moffett Center for Molecular Biology."

  • Berdahl says council should get on with other business, Daily Texan, January 30, 1996. (See Berdahl's remarks in his prepared statement.)
    • "Despite pleas not to `dwell unproductively' on past decisions, a UT Faculty Council member submitted a resolution Monday calling for an investigation into the naming of the molecular biology building. The resolution, which members will vote on at their Feb. 19 meeting, would create a committee `to investigate the background to the donations and the naming of' the building. ... Computer sciences professor Alan Cline, a long-time critic of the building's name, presented the proposal minutes after UT President Robert Berdahl called for the UT community to `get on with the business of teaching students and doing research' instead of dwelling on the building's name. ... Cline said he began questioning these donations in October, and despite several conversations with administrators close to the issue, he `can't find the truth.' `The full story wasn't known to any of them, nor to me, nor perhaps to anyone on our campus,' Cline said. `The story is not simple, it is not public, and yet the controversy has significantly affected our campus.'"
    • "Gretchen Ritter, an assistant professor of government, also will submit three resolutions on the Freeport issue at the Feb. 19 meeting. The resolutions will address building-naming procedures and affirm free speech on the issue, she said. Besides helping to move past the issue, Ritter said the resolutions respond to Freeport's threats to sue Cline and another UT professor for their comments about the company."

  • As a river runs over, the rain forest is besieged, Stewart Yerton, Times-Picayune, January 28, 1996. (Full text at Lexis-Nexis.)"The tailings are making a new world in the lowlands. They have formed land masses in the wetlands, which Freeport is studying how to farm. Tailings are used to make bricks. And some American expatriates have even built a makeshift golf course in the tailings piles. The tailings also have caused damage, Marsh said. In June 1990, a combination of tailings and fallen trees clogged the Ajkwa near its mouth, causing the river to flood, Marsh said. This contradicted predictions in a 1990 study of the river commissioned by Freeport. The study was done by Crescent Technologies Inc. of New Orleans, a company that Freeport spun off to create a laboratory that could serve as a separate contractor. Wayne Forman, a Crescent Technologies vice president, says the flooding was caused by a log jam. But Marsh said Forman simply won't admit the study's conclusion - that the river could easily move the amount of tailings produced by the mine - is wrong. `They totally missed the mark on the transport capacity of the river,' Marsh said. `It's kind of a joke in the company, this river study, and in the (Indonesian) government.' According to Marsh, tailings also have silted the river bed, causing the river to change shape and course, and the water to spread like a sheet across the patch of rain forest near the east levee. The water essentially drowned the forest, Marsh said. It also has spilled into the nearby Kopi and Minajerwi rivers. It is this flood water that Dodt is trying to contain. As hideous as the area appears, wasted tropical rain forest as far as the eye can see, the forest destruction is minor compared to the size of Freeport's concession, the area of land the government has given the company permission to explore, Dodt said. So far, Dodt said, the company has removed dead trees from a 7.7-square-mile patch of dead forest. In addition, Dodt said, the company is clearing another 5.8 miles of live trees from an area likely to be inundated with water. Add thatto another 7.7-square-mile wasteland near the east levee. The result: 21.2 square miles of dead rain forest, about 34 times the size of Audubon Park. By contrast, Freeport has a concession area that is larger than the state of Maryland."

  • Culture clash creates conflict, Stewart Yerton, Times-Picayune, January 29, 1996.

  • Rebel goal is independece for Irian Jaya (West Papua), Stewart Yerton, Times-Picayune, January 29, 1996.

  • Goverment policy on land rights puts Freeport smack in middle: Tribes confused by contracts, Stewart Yerton, Times-Picayune, January 29, 1996. (Full text at Lexis-Nexis.)

  • Rebel goal is independence for Irian Jaya (West Papua): Freeport calls them bandits, Stewart Yerton, Times-Picayune, January 29, 1996. (Full text at Lexis-Nexis.)
    • "Critics charge that the Act of Free Choice was an act of no choice. Carmel Budiardjo, an author and activist with the human-rights group Tapol in London, said the Indonesian military intimidated Irianese representatives into supporting Indonesian rule. Among other references, she cites a report from an official Indonesian newspaper in which a military officer tells representatives he will `protect and guarantee the safety of everyone who is for Indonesia,' but will `shoot dead anyone who is against us - and all his followers.'"
    • "Independence for Irian Jaya (West Papua) would not necessarily affect Freeport, said a political dissident living in Jakarta. `If we have self-determination,' he said, `we still need Freeport. ' Somebody would still have to manage the mine, he said. The dissident, who asked not to be identified for fear the Indonesian government would punish him, said Freeport was being unfairly blamed for human-rights abuses. `This situation came up, was caused by the military,' he said. `But because Freeport was there (in Irian Jaya (West Papua)), they get blamed.' The chief complaint of the OPM lies not with Freeport, but with the Indonesian government and military, M.K. said. `They dominate every aspect of your life. And beyond that, they kill us.'"

  • Mistaken procedure case begins at the military court, Jayapura, Kompas, January 30, 1996.
    • "The trial concerning the shooting of the villagers of Hagani, Iloya Village, Ilaga district, Paniai, thought to have been perpetrated by members of 732 (Yonif) Infantry Battalion commenced on Monday 29th at the military court (Mahmil) III-19 Jayapura, with the appearance of three defendants."
    • "The Head of Law of the Regional Military Command (Kakumdam) VIII/Trikora Colonel CHK PLT Sihombing told the press that all documents relating to the case would be treated as state documents and as such will not be released to the press."

  • Building a modern world: Freeport introduces a tribal society to capitalism ... and envy, Stewart Yerton, Times-Picayune, January 30, 1996. (Full text at Lexis-Nexis.)

  • Freeport's battle with OPIC sparks debate about helping U.S. companies in foreign lands, Stewart Yerton, Times-Picayune, January 31, 1996. (Full text at Lexis-Nexis.)
    • "Clinton has given USAID an additional mandate: to promote human rights and democracy, using foreign activist groups as vehicles, Shaiko said. Freeport has been affected by this policy. USAID helps finance Freeport's most outspoken critic in Jakarta, the Indonesian Forum for Environment, known as WALHI. The rationale for financing groups such as WALHI is that public activism is necessary for democracy, particularly in nations such as Indonesia, which is making a transition from an authoritarian to a more democratic form of government."
    • "Freeport Chairman Jim Bob Moffett claims the OPIC policy cancellation is just one example of how the Clinton administration doesn't want to be involved in overseas projects that have controversial human-rights or environmental implications."

  • Activists sway agency policy, Freeport claims, Stewart Yerton, Times-Picayune, January 31, 1996. (Full text at Lexis-Nexis.) "The chain of the events leading to the OPIC cancellation forms a plot as complicated as that of a spy novel. But different inferences can be drawn from the events."

  • Reshaping a civilization, Stewart Yerton, (originally from the New Orleans Times-Picayune), Austin American-Statesman, January 31, 1996, p. A1. This is a compilation of several articles that appeared in the New Orleans paper. A comprehensive story about the Freeport mining operation in Irian Jaya (West Papua). A large, frontpage, color photo of young child in Irian Jaya emerging from a river with head caked in the tailings from Freeport's mine. (The question that struck my mind was, is this what Freeport has in mind for other swimming holes, such as Barton Springs?)
    • "The water is gray because Freeport dumps ground waste rock from its copper, gold, and silver mine into the river system. Dodt (Freeport engineer) said the wastes, called tailings, silt up the Ajkwa River, causing it to flood and change course. Flooding has killed areas of rain forest, Dodt said."
    • "Mine tailings, however, have flowed down rivers into the lowlands and caused flooding that has destroyed 15.4 square miles of rain forest, and acid runoff has polluted a mountain lake, a lake that Freeport plans to fill in."
    • "Mining experts say U. S. regulations would likely prohibit dumping tailings into waterways."
    • "Freeport dumps the tailings into the Aghawagon River. The material ultimately flows into the Ajkwa River, which drains into the sea. The discharges are legal under Indonesian law."
    • "To haul that much dirt everyday would require 4,259 full loaded heavy duty dump trucks. In the next 40 years, Freeport plans to transport the better part of a vast mountain down into the river valley."
    • "According to Marsh (Freeport senior manager for environmental and public affairs), tailings have silted the river bed, causing the river to change shape and course, and the water to spread like a sheet across the rain forest near the east levee. The water essentially drowned the forest, Marsh said. It is this flood water that Marsh is trying to contain."
    • "But for now it is slow going. The east levee is proving difficult to build. The more work Dodt's crew does, the stronger the channel becomes; so far, it tears up the levee as quickly as Dodt's crews build."
    • "Ultimately, Marsh said, the river can bear only so much.
      `At some point,' Marsh said, you're going to smother any life that can live in there.'"

  • Naming of University of Texas Building Source of Controversy, Philanthropy News Digest, January 31, 1996, Volume 2, Issue 5. "The naming of a University of Texas molecular biology building for industrialist James Robert "Jim Bob" Moffett has sparked a campus controversy."