Bougainville Women’s Federation Programs to assist women in Bougainville villages

 

BWF 2

Over the last few years,  Bougainville Women’s  Federation (BWF ) has been running sewing and cooking workshops in villages around Bougainville.  BWF is committed to assisting the women of Bougainville to lead dignified lives, free of poverty.  Workshops have been conducted across all regions including the Carterets.  They have been conducted by a volunteer with Australian Volunteers International and Australian Business Volunteers – Nina Boydell.

The sewing workshops involve the preparation of patterns for school uniforms (girls and boys shorts, shirt and girls skirt), for women (skirt and shirt) and for men (shirt and cargo pants).  The host group is left with a set of patterns and village groups can then use these patterns to make their own set.  The workshops also cover training in how to construct garments.  BWF recommends these workshops take place over a minimum of four days.

BWF 1

The cooking workshops are usually conducted over two days and can be tailored to the needs of the particular group.  For example, workshops to assist groups catering for tourists have been conducted.  Many different recipes can be demonstrated and practiced – eg bread making, pizza, salads, omelets, noodle dishes, fish pies, cakes, biscuits etc.  There is no limit to the number of beautiful dishes that can be made with the fresh produce of Bougainville!  The trainer has experience with using either an open fire and drum oven, or a gas stove.

More recently, there have been requests for BWF to conduct craft workshops for village women.  Craft workshops cover knitting, crochet and embroidery and clear instructions are left with the groups so they can practice in their own time.  Some groups are starting to make baby blankets, computer covers, embroidery on pillowslips, knitted hats and scarves etc.  Once again, there is no end to the possibilities of things that can be made.

Finally, BWF is promoting the use of Feminine Hygiene Kits to provide dignity to women during their monthly cycle.  The kits are economical and comfortable to use and can last for up to three years.  BWF is hoping to be able to start supplying kits to women in Bougainville and is considering using the project as a fundraising initiative.

It has been very encouraging to see a number of women’s groups commencing small businesses in sewing and catering as a result of attending these workshops.  We hope it will continue!

 

 

By bougnews Posted in Women

Bougainville News: People, not international mining companies, must benefit: Kauona

Sam

“Bougainville has the potential to drive its economic capacity forward after the proposed referendum in 2019,

To boost economic development in Bougainville, its leaders must work towards one common purpose – to target the mineral resource industry and other important sectors which can generate revenue.

The onus lay with the Autonomous Bougainville Government to lift the mining moratorium so that the people could partner potential explorers.”

Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Sam Kauona.

A complicating factor here is the various business and other economic interests of several key former combatant leaders. Some of them use their ex-combatant networks to advance such interests;

Former BRA leader, Sam Kauona, who has long had interest in establishing mining operations in association with dual Australian/Canadian citizen, Lindsay Semple, and who – whenever they fear their mining interests are not sufficiently guaranteed – attacks the ABG as being under the control of Bougainville Copper Ltd (or BCL) and its 53 per cent majority shareholder, Rio Tinto.

PUBLIC LECTURE in Canberra  by PATRICK NISIRA, VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE AUTONOMOUS REGION OF BOUGAINVILLE

The lifting of the mining moratorium will be discussed when the ABG meets next month. Kauona said the Bougainville resource owners representative committee had been formed to encourage locals to enter partnership deals in the industry.

“We are encouraging locals who have minerals to register their groups and negotiate with potential explorers,” he said.

Kauona said it would also stop Rio Tinto or the Bougainville Copper Ltd from resuming operation in Bougainville.
“The old mining lease gave the right to Rio Tinto and BCL to own every mineral which the locals did not benefit from. And that is what we don’t want,” he said.

Kauona accused Rio Tinto and BCL of not compensating the lives lost during the civil crisis.

The National
Copyright © 2016 The National Online. All Rights Reserved

Bougainville News : Historic referendum decisions reports Momis after JSB

JmoThe outcomes of great significance involved preparations for the Bougainville Referendum. It must be conducted before mid-2020.

“In a series of meetings over recent months, a joint team of officials developed proposals for: establishing an independent agency to conduct the referendum; a target date of June 15th 2019 as the date for holding the referendum; a detailed work program of activities and associated funding needed to prepare for the holding of the referendum; a set of basic messages to be covered in an initial joint awareness program about the referendum. The JSB endorsed these proposals.

Chief John L. Momis President Press Release

“I’m very pleased with these decisions. Although the date for the referendum cannot yet be finally set (because of various legal steps required to be taken first), it would be impossible to plan the referendum without a target date. With that date now agreed, we can plan the steps required to hold the referendum, and the time and the funding and personnel needed to carry out each step.

“Equally pleasing is the National Government commitment to provide the funding needed to carry out the referendum preparations, beginning with the 2017 National Budget.

“The steps necessary to establish the independent agency that will conduct the referendum have been agreed. The two Governments are committed to it being established before the end of 2016. The PNG Electoral Commission and the Bougainville Electoral Commission are already cooperating closely in developing the agreement, administrative arrangements and the charter required by the Peace Agreement and the Organic Law on Peace-building in Bougainville for establishing the Independent Agency.

“The joint agreement on these and related issues is a huge step forward. It demonstrates once and for all the total commitment of the Papua New Guinea Government to full implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the associated Constitutional provisions.

“As a result, there should no longer be any doubt amongst Bougainvilleans about whether or not the referendum will be held. I know some factions and individuals have retained weapons because of suspicions that the National Government would refuse to hold the referendum. But with the historic JSB decisions on 20th May, those suspicions must end. As a result, all Bougainvillean groups must now work towards achieving complete weapons disposal.

“I now call for full disposal of weapons by the Me’ekamui Defence Force elements, the armed groups associated with Noah Musingku at Tonu, and various former BRA and BRF members and groups that have retained weapons.

“Only with full weapons disposal will Bougainville be able to be referendum-ready. The Bougainville Peace Agreement requires that the Referendum be free and fair. Without weapons disposal, there will inevitably be doubts about the referendum being free and fair. There are already Bougainvilleans saying that they will not vote if weapons remain. The legitimacy of the result will always be in doubt if weapons remain.

The President said that he was impressed by the clear commitment of the Prime Minister and other ministers to implementing the Bougainville Peace Agreement. He said: “Once again, Papua New Guinea is providing a lead to other countries that have experienced violent conflict. It shows that the commitment to achieving peace by peaceful means, evident ever since the Bougainville peace process began in 1997, continues to flourish in Papua New Guinea.” He said: “I salute the Prime Minister for his very positive contribution to this historic outcome.”

 

Bougainville News : President Momis Opening JSB -Statement from JOINT SUPERVISORY BODY PORT MORESBY May 2016

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“But Bougainville is not being treated as a government with constitutionally guaranteed autonomy. Too often we are regarded as just another provincial government, or a department. When it comes to calculation of grants, National agencies believed they can make arbitrary decisions about the ABG. They ignore what the Constitution requires.

This must change. If it does not, then the ABG will begin challenging breach of the Constitution in the courts.

Understanding of the Peace Agreement and the National Constitutional laws that give effect to the Agreement is absent. The high turnover of both politicians and senior officials since the Peace Agreement is an issue here .Almost no one in the National Government structures was involved in negotiating the Agreement. So perhaps it’s not such a surprise that many do not understand the big difference between autonomy and a provincial government.

I fear sometimes that this failure to understand the ABG as a truly autonomous  government is part of the reason why even the JSB is not working well.

The ABG operating account contains less than K3 million. We will soon have to begin shutting down operations.

In the 2014 JSB , the National Government stated that on its calculations, it owed K96 million in arrears of RDG. On those figures, annual RDG payments should have been at least K29.5 million per year. We did not accept the National Government calculations. Our calculation showed arrears of over K400 million, and annual payments of well over K100 million.”

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT 

JOINT SUPERVISORY BODY PORT MORESBY, 20 MAY 2016

OPENING STATEMENT BY

HON. JOHN L. MOMIS, PRESIDENT AUTONOMOUS REGION OF BOUGAINVILLE

On behalf of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, I welcome all members of the two, delegations – the National Government and the ABG – as well as all observers or guests.

In particular, I acknowledge, and welcome the presence of the Honourable Peter O’Neill,  Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, and other Ministers in attendance, and of course, Hon. Joe Lera, Minister for Bougainville Affairs, to whom I offer a special welcome to this his first JSB meeting as Minister.

Colleagues, I must begin by reminding all of us that the reason that we are here is that we are implementing a peace agreement – an agreement negotiated with difficulty to end a violent, bloody and destructive conflict in which thousands of people died – people from not only Bougainville, but also from elsewhere in PNG.

In that context I must make brief comments on the importance of the roles of the JSB.

Download or Read ABG LEADERS’ JSB PREPARATION BRIEFING

Bougainville News JSB papers – May 2016

In both the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the National Constitution, the JSB is dealt with under the heading ‘intergovernmental relations’. That means relations between two separate governments.

The JSB is by far the most important institution for handling relations between the National Government and the ABG. The JSB has three main functions:

  1. To enable the two governments to jointly oversee implementation of the Peace Agreement, including both the autonomy and referendum arrangements; and
  2. To provide a forum for consultation between the two governments; and
  3. To help resolve disputes between the two governments that cannot be resolved by consultation between the relevant agencies of government. If the JSB cannot resolve a dispute, it can be referred for mediation or arbitration, and ultimately to the courts.

These are all important functions, including the one so far not used – that of dispute resolution. I hope very much that what we agree today means that there continues to be no need to use the dispute settlement arrangements.

The constitutional provisions on the JSB underline the fact that the ABG is a constitutionally established and highly autonomous government. It is very different to the provincial governments elsewhere in PNG. It is different in terms of powers, funding arrangements, and intergovernmental relations.

See Above Quote

For example, the procedures for the JSB agreed by us under Constitution say the JSB must meet at least twice a year. But in the last five or six years, it has not met even once a year on average. When it does meet, the officials try to deal with everything in advance, and treat the JSB as a rubber stamp.

I am sure, that, as usual, a group of National Government officials has produced the draft resolutions that they expect us to sign. That is not acceptable. The JSB is the forum for leaders from both sides to engage directly, and deal with issues. We are not a rubber stamp for what the officials think should happen.

The JSB must return to being the critically important forum for exchanges between governments. I will return to that issue before I finish these remarks.

The Constitutional roles of the JSB underline the importance of the two governments working together to implement the Peace Agreement in full.

Such cooperation is essential if the Peace Agreement is to work as was intended when it was negotiated. It is sometimes forgotten that the Peace Agreement was negotiated to end the worst conflict ever to have occurred amongst Pacific Island people.

We must remember that purpose of the Agreement, or otherwise there will always be a grave risk that violent conflict will begin again. A renewed war would have terrible impacts, for not only Bougainville, but also the rest of PNG.

It is vital that the two governments to work together. After all, as we used to say often, when the Agreement had just been negotiated, it is a joint creation. It involves both the PNG Government and the leaders of Bougainville. Both should have a deep interest in all issues about the Agreement, and in its full implementation.

You will all be relieved that I’m now turning my attention to the issues on the agenda for this meeting. My comments will be brief.

The first issue I want to mention is the calculation of the Restoration and Development Grant. The issues here are of the greatest importance to the ABG.

The ABG has two main immediate concerns here. First, we are almost completely broke. It’s now almost five months into 2016. But so far we have received no funding at all under the 2016 Budget. The ABG operating account contains less than K3 million. We will soon have to begin shutting down operations.

In the 2014 JSB , the National Government stated that on its calculations, it owed K96 million in arrears of RDG. On those figures, annual RDG payments should have been at least K29.5 million per year. We did not accept the National Government calculations. Our calculation showed arrears of over K400 million, and annual payments of well over K100 million.

So we agreed to resolve the differences over calculation method by getting independent legal opinions. In the meantime, the National Government agreed to pay the arrears at K30 million per year over three years. Future annual RDG payments were supposed to be based on their calculations – an RDG of at least K29.5 million per year.

But what happened? A K30 million arrears payment in the 2015 budget was never paid. The annual RDG for 2015 was set at only K15 million, but only K10 million was paid, and it was received in 2016. No provision for arrears was included in the 2016 budget. The annual RDG for 2016 in the budget is only K10 million.

So – the Constitutional Laws are being ignored. National Government promises of payment endorsed by the ABG have not been implemented.

This must change.

We need agreement here, today, that all arrears promised in 2014 are paid immediately, together with the additional arrears in underpayments in the 2015 and 2016 RDG amounts.

The second  RDG issue is that we must resolve, once and for all, the issue about calculation of the RDG. I want agreement here that we will jointly go to the Supreme Court to resolve our differences about that issue.

Our goal here is not to force the National Government to pay all the arrears that we think are due, or to force payment of impossibly high annual RDG figures. We understand the fiscal crisis that is facing the country. We will be reasonable. But we do need to agree what the Constitution requires. And we need a clear commitment that the Constitution will be followed.

The next agenda I want to mention is the Special Intervention Fund – the SIF. The SIF is important. It shows National Government commitment to restoring and developing Bougainville. But all sorts of problems are arising. Some National Government leaders are constantly claiming the SIF is being misused by the ABG – there are even claims of corruption. Just as the Prime Minister say he will not resign on the basis of allegations made without evidence, I ask for the evidence of our abuse of the SIF. There have been audit reports and other evaluations of the SIF. They do not support such allegations.

More important, there are now three new unfunded projects approved by the Central Supply and Tenders Board, without prior JSB approval. WE need to know, here, today, where the funding for those projects will come from.

Next, is fisheries. We hope to sign an MOU here on fisheries funds and powers. Under the Peace Agreement, the ABG is entitled to receive from NFA all fisheries revenues derived from EEZ, Continental and territorial waters associated with Bougainville, less costs of collection. All such revenues collected since 2005 are payable to the ABG. For many years, we have been asking NFA for the data on the revenue received. They have failed to provide that.

Now NFA offers an MOU, under negotiation for several years, with an annual ‘good-faith’ payment of K5 million. The MOU was originally to be signed in 2014. If it had been, we would have received K15 million by 2016. But here we are with an MOU to sign that just offers K 5 million for 2016.

I want clear agreement here, today, that the K15 million will be paid by NFA, by mid-June 2016. In addition, all the data on revenue and costs of collection must be provide by July.

There are other issues on the agenda. In addition, there are many key ABG agenda items about which we have prepared papers, but most of which have not been included in the agenda produced by NCOBA from the JTT meeting.

They include:

  1. Second Autonomy Review (PNG and ABG Chief Secretaries)
  2. Implementing PNG Constitutional Laws Implementing the      Bougainville Peace Agreement (ABG)]
  3. Fisheries issues:
  4. Merging Bougainville Treasury function into ABG Finance Dept.
  5. DSIP and PSIP, and ABG laws implementing autonomy.
  6. Implementing ABG “Foreign Relations” Functions
  7. National Government Representation on Bougainville Senior Appointments Committee
  8. Reviving JSB Role as Key Autonomy Oversight Body
  9. Strengthening Bougainville Police Service 

The ABG asks for those matters to be added to this agenda.

With those comments, I will bring my opening remarks to an end. I wish us all a productive and cordial engagements in this JSB meeting.

Thank you one and all.

See for details Bougainville News JSB papers – May 2016

Content Page

 

ABG’S PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS. 4

  1. A) ISSUES FOR JSB DETERMINATION AND ENDORSEMENT.. 6

AGENDA 1. A: KEY ELEMENTS OF REFEENDUM PREPARATION.. 7

AGENDA 2 – SUBJECT: ABG REVENUE GENERATION.. 9

AGENDA 2.A. – SUPPORT FOR ABG SPONSORED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS. 9

AGENDA 2.B:DEVELOPMENT OF KANGU GROWTH CENTRE. 11

AGENDA 2.C : ABG DRAWDOWN OF POWERS TO COLLECT ALL PNG TAXES IN BOUGAINVILLE. 12

  1. ISSUES FOR JSB DELIBERATIONS. 14

AGENDA 3 SUBJECT: SECOND AUTONOMY REVIEW… 15

AGENDA 4 – SUBECT: 19

AGENDA 5: ISSUE/DISPUTES ON FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR AUTONOMY. 22

AGENDA 5.A : RECURRENT UNCONDITIONAL GRANT: ARREARS AND FUTURE PAYMENTS. 22

AGENDA 5.B : RDG CALCULATION – ARREARS, AND FUTURE PAYMENTS. 23

AGENDA 5.C. – CONTINUITY AND SHORTFALLS IN SIF FUNDING.. 32

AGENDA 6 – SUBJECT: FISHERIES ISSUES. 36

  1. ISSUES FOR JOINT TECHNICAL TEAM MEETING DISCUSSIONS. 38

AGENDA 7 – SUBJECT: ABG FINANCE & TREASURY ISSUES: 39

AGENDA 7.A: CALCULATION OF IRC REMITTANCE TO ABG OF TAXES COLLECTED IN BOUGAINVILLE 2005-2016. 39

AGENDA 7. B: MERGING OF BOUGAINVILLE TREASURY FUNCTION INTO ABG FINANCE DEPT. 40

AGENDA 7.C: SERVICE DELIVERY MECHANISM AND LLGSIP. 41

AGENDA 7.D: DSIP AND PSIP AND ABG LAWS IMPLEMENTING THE AUTONOMY ARRANGEMENTS. 42

AGENDA 8 – SUBJECT: DRAWDOWN OF POWERS AND FUNCTIONS. 43

AGENDA 8.A: OVERARCHING MOU – FACILITATING DRAWDOWN OF POWERS AND FUNCTIONS. 43

AGENDA 8.B: IMPLEMENTING ABG “FOREIGN RELATIONS” FUNCTIONS UNDER THE BPA. 45

AGENDA 8.C: SUBSIDIARY LANDS MOU.. 47

AGENDA 8.D: ENVIRONMENT MOU.. 47

AGENDA 9 – SUBJECT:   NATIONAL GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATION ON BOUGAINVILLE SENIOR APPOINTMENTS COMMITTEE. 48

AGENDA 10 – SUBJECT: REVIVING THE JSB’S ROLE AS THE KEY AUTONOMY OVERSIGHT BODY. 50

AGENDA 11: SUBJECT: NURTURING LAW ABIDING, STABLE AND PEACEFUL SOCIETY BY STRENGTHENING BOUGAINVILLE POLICE SERVICE AND NGO’S (CSOs & FBOs) HUMANITARIAN REHABILITATION PROGRAMS. 53

ATTACHMENTS. 55

ATTACHMENT I:  JOINT REFERENDUM TECHNICAL GROUP RESOLUTION.. 56

ATTACHMENT II: REFERENDUM WORK PLAN.. 58

ATTACHMENT III: DRAFT PNGEC-OBEC AGREEMENT.. 66

ATTACHMENT IV. 69

 

 

 

#Bougainville #PNG News: Environmental disaster is waiting to happen in Bougainville port

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“The person, group or authority responsible for bringing in these supply and storage vessels must immediately get these vessels out of the old government wharf, out of Kieta and out of Bougainville waters.

There is an imminent risk and danger from all the signs and indications and from information from the security staff and some of the crew on the vessels that one or both vessels are developing leaks. The worst that will happen is for the vessels, especially the fuel supply vessel, Pacific Trainer, already under stress and in a state of disrepair, to sink where it is berthed. Both vessels are aged, rusting away and under stress and duress.”

Simon Pentanu Resident of Pok Pok Island

The environmental contamination and pollution from the leakages is already evident. It will destroy one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. It will affect the Kieta harbour shoreline, the shores and fishing grounds of nearby villages and the spawning grounds for all stock and variety of fish.  The tides can carry any spills and leakages as far south as Koromira and up north towards Arawa, Loloho and Rorovana.

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As well as our pelagic stock fishing grounds, the barrier reefs  that serve the coastal populations as sources of food and income from seafood are most at risk. The mangroves that are spawning habitats for tuna and other fish are at risk too. This is  real. It is frightening.

Both these vessels are unseaworthy. They should have never been allowed into the harbour in the first place. The damage and cost in pollution, contamination and cleaning up will outweigh any benefits to anyone for which these vessels were brought here in the first place.

Appropriate authorities, namely NMSA (National Maritime Safety Authority), the Department of Environment and Conservation and the ABG Emergency Service should cooperate with our national and ABG customs and immigration staff to call in the foreigners involved, inspect the vessels and furnish a Report to ABG, the MHR for North Nasioi and the NNCOE (North Nasioi Council of Elders). These authorities should act immediately. The ABG must take decisive steps and actions on this imminent threat to the environment.

Of immediate and long term risk are residents along the shoreline of Kieta Harbour, the coastal villages and hamlets in Metora VA which includes Pokpok Island and Siipa Bay as well as villages along the coast north, east and south of Kieta.

We cannot talk about tourism sites, natural attractions and potential for the industry when we allow the gravest danger of pollution to one of the most beautiful and touristy areas on Bougainville. If Autonomy means we must take responsibility of our own affairs, responsibility for environment must be at the top of the list. Isn’t this one of the offending issues that attracted the wrath of those that fought tooth and nail during the conflict?

We have more than enough examples that should make us shudder and realise that wherever oil spills have happened elsewhere, human lives and every other living thing and form of marine life whose existence depends on the environment have been the most worse off and most deprived for the experience.

The member for North Nasioi and Minister for Department of Primary Industry must take take a firm, decisive and immediate stand to have these vessels removed. Most of the coastal people whose waters stand to be affected do not have or derive any pecuniary benefits from whatever the deal is that has brought these two vessels to Kieta.

Prevention is better than cure. Act now before it is too late! Respect the laws. We must learn and grow to be a lawful society and community instead of being “every man for himself”.

Memories of the Bougainville Crisis: Veronica Hatutasi’s ‘Behind the Blockade’

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For all that has been written about it, the Bougainville Crisis risks becoming obscure in plain sight.

The lack of a general history makes understanding the conflict a daunting prospect for the beginner, and the more specialised literature usually assumes a very great deal of knowledge about Papua New Guinean politics and history and about the anthropology of Bougainville.

Moreover, the factionalisation so characteristic of the conflict itself was also characteristic of its representation outside Bougainville. Journalistic accounts from the period are thus often partisan. Papua New Guinea’s strategy of laying siege to the island, establishing a blockade in March 1990 which lasted, in some form or another, for six years, meant that this initial wave of reportage was often as doubtful, and news about Bougainville were extremely difficult to come by. It is now 15 years since the Peace Agreement of 2001 brought a semblance of normality to the islands, but this is a ‘fragile peace’, as if often remarked in Bougainville. The understandable desire to care for and nurture this peace has, unfortunately, also led to unwillingness to write about the painful times.

Our surprising ignorance about one of the most high-profile conflict in the Pacific since World War II is nowhere deeper than in relation to social and political conditions in the period of government withdrawal and siege. And it is precisely this that Veronica Hatutasi’s new book Behind the Blockade, provides a glimpse of. It is not a general history, but rather a personal memoir. We read here, in often intimate terms, how the life of this young mother of four was upended by the crisis:

Hatutasi begins ‘living in utopia in Toniva’, a village immediately south of Kieta, but her starting anecdote – her son comes into trouble with the Highlands crew of a PMV – sounds a foreboding note amidst the domestic idyll of children playing on the beach to the sound of 1980s pop and country music. It is not long before the cocktail of uneven development, landowner grievances and nationalist aspirations tears Hatutasi’s utopia apart.

Soon shots are being fired and PNG launches its unmeasured and brutal response; from there the spiral into conflict is inexorable. As the crisis envelops the island, we sense in the writer a growing engagement. When the blockade falls, the family relocates to Siwai: the amenities of town life are gone, and in page by page of Hatutasi’s narrative, the commodities, services and safety of her world exhaust themselves. The conversational prose almost masks the harrowing, ruthless process underway as society is stressed to a breaking point; food is exhausted, and Hatutasi digresses on the fact that her last batteries are maintaining the last clock in operation. Some digressions in the book are distracting, but this one, in which she notes her commitment to maintain time strikes me as deeply significant. A final piece of the former world is cultivated.

Over the next few chapters, we follow her as the situation continues to worsen. We meet peacemakers such as the Catholic priest Father Dario Monegatti, who offered himself in exchange for people accused of sorcery; we get a sense of growing polarisation and factionalisation as the conflict evolves into a fratricidal civil war amongst Bougainvilleans. We find little, but extremely significant facts, such as the continued functioning of a cash economy, the fearful reverence of Francis Ona, whose name becomes taboo, the subtle clues that suspicion has seeped into every fissure of the social fabric. There is much here for the historian, and the book fits into the budding literature of Melanesian women’s memoirs, the obvious precedent being the testimonials offered in Sirivi and Havini’s …As Mothers of the Land [pdf].

After two sections narrating the crisis, the third switches somewhat abruptly into a diary form to chronicle Hatutasi’s experience during what she dubs ‘the Crisis within the Crisis’ as Siwai factions turn on each other. This section is possibly of greatest value to historians, as it gives a sense of the forms of governance that were attempted in the vaccuum left behind the blocade. For the historian, it is also valuable as it makes Hatutasi’s position in the conflict increasingly evident – indeed, she emerges as an antagonist of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), and in this respect her descriptions are usefully read along …As Mothers of the Land, as that book presents a more pro-BRA perspective. In Sirivi and Havini’s volume, the BRA commanders treat people in the areas they control responsibly; in Hatutasi’s those people are described as human shields. Ultimately, the blockade comes into view as established by PNG, but maintained by the BRA.

By August 1992, the family is evacuated to Port Moresby. Unfortunately, the last two sections of the book are not nearly as vivid as the first, and as Hatutasi comes to reflect on the Crisis, there isn’t much by the way of critical consideration of her own position within the conflict, or to what extent her knowledge of conditions in Bougainville is particular to her own experience. Hatutasi becomes a journalist for the sadly defunct Times of PNG, writing under the pseudonym Niko Numana. By now, Hatutasi is working to counter BRA ‘propaganda.’ I do not wish to impugn Hatutasi’s testimonial: it would be absurd to demand balance of a memoir. It is candid, moving, and it is essential reading for those interested in the conflict. But as the book moves into its final stages, it becomes less organised, and the omissions more serious: the life of Bougainvilleans in Port Moresby during the Crisis was not easy, but her account does not convey this as effectively as terse timekeeping of her diary, or the narrative of fall from idyll at the beginning. We learn nothing, for example, of the tense days of the Sandline crisis. Hatutasi is, by her own admission, writing from ‘the sideline’ here. The book concludes with a description of peace initiatives which is frankly superfluous. It is a somewhat unfortunate end to a personal and intriguing work.

It is impossible to greet the publication of a memoir such as this with anything but enthusiasm: Bougainvilleans are writing about the Crisis, Bougainvillean women are setting to paper their point of view. But I do want to add my own foreboding note on this occasion: this is a personal memoir and must be read as such. Reading the book as a historiography would do it a serious injustice. It does not have the academic machinery and careful fact-checking to satisfy a historian. I mean this not as a criticism of the book, but rather of the environment into which it is being launched. For want of accessible, general overviews, or for that matter systematic study of the Crisis’ social realities, Bougainville’s history is becoming obscure right before our eyes: and so, the context necessary to understand Hatutasi’s book is difficult to acquire, the significance of its digressions harder to notice to the uninitiated. It is nonetheless compelling. I hope a narrative such as that provided by Hatutasi, at least in the first three sections, compels more writers, especially Bougainvillean writers, to attend to the difficulty of their past, which is painful and conflicted, fragile and necessary.

Originally published here

Veronica Hatutasi, 2016. Behind the Blockade. Boroko, PNG: Word Publishing Company.

Thiago Cintra Oppermann is a Research Fellow in the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) program at The Australian National University.

Bougainville News: President Momis tribute to Sir Michael Somare

JM

SOMARE – THE LEADER OF PNG INDEPENDENCE

Michael Thomas Somare, the man from the Murik lakes of the Sepik River Basin in the East Sepik Province dreamt one day Papua New Guinea would be free and independent.

Many Papua New Guineans shared in the dream.

However, Michael Somare did not wait for the golden opportunity to stake his claim on independence.

For him and for his comrades it was time to extract gold (independence) from the existing circumstances instead of waiting for the golden opportunities to come.

I am sure he would have reflected on the prevailing socio-economic and political circumstances during the Colonial era and understanding both the weaknesses and strengths, the values and the world view of our people at the time Michael Somare was convinced that his dream (or the dreams of his people) was honourable and legitimate and therefore worth our best effort.

The sorts of qualities he envisioned in his dream such as justice, human participation, integrity, love, peace, sharing etc motivated him to confidently innovate and adapt to embrace a changing world. Through his education, training and more so his Christian beliefs he came to know that man is by nature self- determining as he possesses an intellect and a will. His innate ability to envision a free and just society in which every man and woman would participate in the processes of development and governance enabled him to collaborate with other like minded people to go for independence even though we were being advised that we were not ready. Through the collective leadership of a coalition of visionary leaders that he was able to put together, Somare, by virtue of his charismatic personality set in motion the huge political mobilization effort to get PNG ready for independence.

When he became the Chief Minister he embarked on two important missions- one to transfer self governing powers from Canberra to Konedobu and the other was to set up a Parliamentary Committee of elected representatives to draft the future independent nation’s constitution.

The 15 member Constitutional Planning Committee (CPC) decided to take afresh new approach in making the PNG Constitution. Instead of just presenting the people with different models or types of constitutions from around the world, the CPC members decided to put relevant questions to the people about their felt needs and aspirations.

Small “Constitutional Planning Committees”, discussion groups, were set up in towns and villages to discuss the issues and deliberate on them before their decisions were submitted to the national Constitutional Planning Committee verbally in public meetings and/or in written submissions.

And because the process adopted by the bipartisan combined government and opposition CPC was an inclusive one, the political dialogue between the Parliament and the people ended up becoming the most comprehensive nationwide political engagement that has ever been carried out in PNG.

Although there was a real sense of urgency to have independence without delay Micahel Somare who was the Ex-officio Chairman exercised wise judgement in ensuring that qualitative change was not sacrificed just for quantitative change giving adequate time to the CPC to do its work.

Although there was a lot of uncertainty about independence, Somare’s decision to trust the people and allow them to participate, considering the time constraint, in the making of their constitution, gave the people a proud sense of owning their MAMA LO and ultimately being joyful that together despite th cultural diversity they successfully created an independent nation called Papua New Guinea.

This is a pretty amazing achievement for the people of Papua New Guinea  who despite facing huge challenges rallied behind their leaders and together they answered the clarion call to create a Christian democratic nation whose vision is enshrined in the five National Goals and Directive Principles of the National Constitution which is both a great legal and moral document.

Under the new regime collaborated to achieve a common objective and goal. The kind of society the people of Papua New Guinea dreamt about and aspired to create is enshrined in the 5 National Goals and Directive Principles of the Constitution. Whilst they are not legally enforceable, they are never the less intrinsic ally and substantively necessary in the formulation and development of policies, programs and laws of our society and our country.

Failure to adhere to them is detrimental to individuals and on a grand scale, detrimental to the collective welfare of all our people.

Again another important political initiative Chief Minister Somare introduced and made part of the terms of reference given to the Constitutional Planning Committee was decentralization- structural distribution of governmental power and responsibility.

PNG is a highly diversified tribal society that needs a decentralized system and policy to enable the diverse people to be empowered through their involvement in socio-economic and political activities. The principle of equitable distribution does not apply only to services but just as importantly to power which is the source of services.

When power, especially governmental power is structurally and legally monopolized by the Central Government, people are marginalized and rendered dependent and vulnerable to manipulation and exploitation by the powerful. The Principle of Subsidiarity which is an important Christian Principle stipulates that bigger bodies or governments should not usurp the role or power of smaller bodies or governments.

The PNG Constitution, through the National Goals and Directive Principles uphold and promote holistic human development and participatory democracy and equitable development for its citizens. It behooves the Government, Churches and Educational Institutions and NGOs to embark on a programme of conscientization to enlighten and motivate all to realize the dream.