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By Agnes E. Donato

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Sept. 15) – The "proposed employment agreement" stating Azmar International Inc.'s purported interest in Pagan artifacts was a false document, according to the Arizona company's local representative.

Azmar spokesperson Don Farrell yesterday presented his own employment contract with the company to the media to prove that Azmar does not want ownership of any artifacts or antiquities that its employees would find in the course of mining pozzolan on Pagan.

"The [proposed contract] was a completely erroneous document. It was a false document. I have my contract, and there is absolutely no mention at all of artifacts anywhere in it. I have seen the other three contracts that have been proposed and none of them say anything about artifacts either," Farrell said.

His contract was signed by Farrell and Azmar president Kenneth Moore on Feb. 28, 2004. Being a "proposed agreement," the other contract bore no signatures.

Farrell, a historian, maintained that Azmar plans to work with the Historic Preservation Office if the company gets a mining permit to Pagan.

"The point is, everybody knows that the island of Pagan has not yet received adequate archaeological research. Everybody knows that there is going to be a volume of archaeological information there-both indigenous artifacts in the form of latte sites and World War II artifacts," he said.

He noted that Pagan was not invaded by Americans during the war. As a result, some 5,000 Japanese were stranded on the island. They did not surrender until after Japan itself had surrendered.

"Mr. Moore and I are both historians, and we knew that from the beginning. We have anticipated working cooperatively working with HPO as soon as we have a permit to go up there to work," Farrell said. "We will not try to steal those artifacts because that would be stupid. And we're not stupid people."

He also reiterated that it has been Azmar's plan to hire a professional archaeologist to work with HPO on a full-time basis to make sure that all of the artifacts are preserved.

Likewise, Azmar plans to hire a professional forester to coordinate with the Division of Environmental Quality, Coastal Resources Management and other agencies interested in the possibility of reforesting the northern part of the island, where mining activities will be conducted.

The proposed agreement that Azmar will allegedly offer to would-be employees states that the company would be the sole owner of any historical artifacts to be found on Pagan. The proposed contract also binds workers to refrain from directly or indirectly divulging any information to anyone about any of historical artifacts.

"Any and all historic artifacts or antiquities located, retrieved, or the location of which become known, are the sole property of employer. Employee, shall not, at any time or in any manner, either directly or indirectly, divulge, disclose, or communicate to nay person, firm or corporation, in any manner whatsoever, any information concerning any historical artifacts or antiquities owned by the employer," a section of the proposed contract read.

September 15, 2004

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