Military expansion to guard foreign corporations not protect PNG citizens
From PNG Mine Watch
Analysis and commentary on the Papua New Guinea government’s plan for a five-fold increase in the size of its military force has painstakingly ignored the obvious.
The increase in military personnel from the current 2,000 to around 10,000 is not a move designed to increase security along PNG’s border with Indonesia, nor to deal with international people smuggling and drug trafficking.
The move to increase the size of the military has everything to do with guarding the huge operations of foreign corporations like Exxon-Mobil and MCC. These companies operations are coming under increasing pressure from dissatisfied local communities as they realize the promised material benefits are not going to arrive and instead they must bear the social and environmental costs while vast profits are shipped overseas.
Already this week, the government had approved the call out of the PNG military for an initial 12 months deployment to protect the interests of US based Exxon-Mobil. The troops will be deployed all the Highlands Highway, the only transport corridor leading to the LNG sites, to provide protection for Exxon’s truck convoys.
This is not the first time Exxon has called on the PNG government for military assistance. A number of para-military police mobile squads, notorious for their ill-discipline and brutal tactics, are on almost permanent deployment around the LNG sites providing protection alongside Exxon’s own private security contractors – mainly from G4S.
Meanwhile, MCC, the Chinese operator of the controversial Ramu nickel mine, is becoming increasingly nervous about community unrest as it moves into full production. As well as anger at the dumping of toxic waste just 150m off-shore along the Madang coastline, inland communities are increasingly frustrated about the environmental impacts of the mining operation itself and the failure of MCC to properly relocate displaced families.
The new Yandera mine, also to be built by a Chinese company, China Non Ferrous Industries, and the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone are seen as other potential flash points for community anger directed at foreign corporations.