Bougainville #Referendum and #Environment News : A choice between selling our inheritance down the river or creating a future for all

 ” The Referendum on 15 June 2019 is not just a political referendum. It is a Referendum on what kind of society Bougainville wants to have. It is a referendum on our resources and economic choices into future.

It is a referendum on how we relate and contribute to the world’s wellbeing being part of the global community.

It is a referendum on how much and for how long we want the island to prosper and what our generation will bequeath to our children and their children and their children’s children.

 We definitely do not want a Bougainville where a few benefit at the expense of the majority.

No child in Bougainville should suffer or sacrifice their future owing to poor decisions around development and management of our natural resources and our environment.

The choice is we either sell our inheritance down the river or create a future for all, always putting children and future generations first.”

Simon Pentanu

You might have seen a recent TV report showing a huge area of rainforest in Pomio, East New Britain, that has been completely logged and bulldozed and is expected to be turned into an oil palm plantation.

It is like walking through a thick and dense tropical jungle, after some hours you walk into an empty space, into an open field denuded and devoid of trees. You look straight ahead and you see nothing standing but a barren field with odour and sight of death and destruction. It is very confronting. You do not know what to think or what to say. You find it very hard to breathe because a solid lump of something has come up your oesophagus and is embedded in your throat. This is what losing whole tracts of native forests in traditional land can do to you.

Logging by foreign companies is the worst example of intrusion into traditional landowners natural habitats. These are complex habitats, including many sacred sites, that have supported lives, cultures, and that give meaning to the relationship between man and his environment. It is an existential relationship beyond any symbiotic explanation that defines why and how the world’s people find themselves settled where they are on this planet

Papua New Guinea, insofar as the world’s rainforests are concerned, is a part of the planet that is still blessed and still full of life compared to others countries that have squandered their forests and dislocated their forest people. Companies that arrive here with men, machines and plants from these countries do so with foreboding contempt of  the planet as if it is lifeless with no feelings. It is a total disregard for the people’s lifelong dependence and fascination with the places they have call home – their seas and oceans, the old growth tropical rainforests, the creatures that add life and colour to the beautiful landscape where there is sharing and caring  for  one another.

The planet is not lifeless to not be concerned  about snuffing life out of it. And yet this is exactly the behavior of loggers that come here after depleting forests in their own countries. Somehow they have succeeded to numb us, hypnotize and buy us off with the colour, smell and value of money which will never ever be enough to account for or replace what they take away and the destruction they leave behind.

 The recent report on TV also let it be known that Papua New Guinea has overtaken Malaysia to become the world’s biggest exporter of tropical hardwood

 The desolate moonscape you see on the screen used to be a living, breathing forest, providing habitat for animals and birds, filtering drinking water for villages and providing an ever-renewing source of house-building materials. Now the trees, animals, birds and clean water are gone. The wood has been shipped to China to be processed and sold in other parts of the world.

 So much damage has been done to the next generation’s inheritance through the notorious Special Agricultural and Business Leases (SABLs). SABLs have been big money-spinners for multinational logging companies, allowing the companies to clear fell vast tracts of people’s forest and use the profits from timber to finance establishment of oil palm plantations. The plantations might look green, but they are nothing like the richly biodiverse rainforest. Rather, they are barren monocultures with a limited lifespan.

 Why do we continue to let this happen to irreplaceable tropical rainforests? And why is it up to NGOs to tell us what’s happening! Why aren’t the people we elect to represent our interests actually representing our interests?

Sadly, the lessons of the past are going unlearned. The Fly River is not the same since BHP left it for dead. The only worse river disaster in our region is the Aikwa River in Indonesia’s Papua province, which has turned thick and grey from decades of tailings from the Freeport gold and copper mine being dumped into the waterway. Mining there, which is carried out under armed military guard, looks set to continue until the entire resource is gone.

 The Jaba River in Bougainville isn’t too far behind. While there is evidence the river and its tributaries are regenerating, the banks and marshes will never be the same as they once were. Those opposing any return to mining in Panguna raise concerns about the natural environment and the legacy that will be left for future generations of Bougainvilleans.

 It won’t be long before Ramu Nickel’s effluence clogs the rivers and estuaries where everything is being dumped including the sea. Don’t hold your breath that environmental laws will protect the environment on which the bulk of the population depends for their entire livelihoods. They cannot eat effluent

 PNG is a guinea pig, the world’s first, in underwater/seabed mining by Nautilus off the waters off of New Ireland, East and West New Britain and Manus Provinces. The world should be absolutely appalled that a company that has borrowed and uses the name of a beautiful sea living creature is sending down gigantic machines, controlled from the water’s surface, to plough the sea floor, mechanically scavenging sea vents and destroying everything in their way, including the habitat of the nautilus shell.

 This is why Nautilus, a Canadian company, will not mine the seabed off Canada. If it is not allowed or is illegal to mine underwater in Canada. So, where does the company pluck the courage or get the audacity to ravage and plunder in our waters.

 The company has done its sums, while in a too familiar story in this country, the local populations are left scratching their heads, wondering just how their contented and happy lives are going to be made happier by this ravaging of their local environment. Nautilus company executives and its PNG citizen staff that are promoting and supporting this guinea pig project should be looked in the eye and asked just why this destructive project should proceed. Greed and insatiable appetite for profit at whatever cost to the local environment are the apparent underlying reasons. Enough is never enough.

 The company and its promoters seem to be wilfully blind not to want to see how much the people depend on the environment for their lives. Nothing can ever take the place of what the indigenous people have always regarded and used as their capital that has supported and sustained generations since time immemorial

 The Autonomous Region of Bougainville is in a great position to learn valuable lessons from the Panguna mine and from the violent crisis that followed. A story Bougainville is still reeling from. Bougainville must also learn from the experiences in other parts of the country and the region where resources wealth when exploited does not equal economic or social improvement for the resource owners.

 Bougainville is a small island, fragile and prone to all manners of exploitation, given its natural resources. Resource development in partnership with investors is not evil. But there must be zero tolerance when it comes to companies not complying fully with environmental laws of protection and conservation. There must not be a repeat to the worst case scenarios of what led to the Bougainville scenarios. The leaders must maintain a level of vigilance and commitment that behooves all of us to be at our best standards and practices of good governance.

 We may be already lagging in enacting relevant environmental and conservation legislation. It is simply wrong to say it is impossible to attract investment if we are strong on our statutory requirements and benchmarks for investment. It is in the interests of Bougainville and prospective investors to do sustainable business. This is not possible if the land and resources are destroyed in a one-off feeding frenzy. Careful stewardship is what sustains any business investment

 Most of all, Bougainville must beware – and be aware – and learn from its mistakes and the mistakes of others. Smart business will always pay. Mindful business will always pay. The people who need protection are the resource owners. Long before Panguna the landowners there were self-sufficient, independent of the judgment of others and wise with how they treated and used the land, the rivers, the trees and the forests.

We need the efforts and assistance of others to ‘develop’ Bougainville in a way that will last. We need investors that will build mutual trust with our leaders and resource owners. We need to educate and inform resource owners to respect laws and agreements with genuine investors. It must be a two-way street. 

The Referendum on 15 June 2019 is not just a political referendum. It is a Referendum on what kind of society Bougainville wants to have. It is a referendum on our resources and economic choices into future. It is a referendum on how we relate and contribute to the world’s wellbeing being part of the global community. It is a referendum on how much and for how long we want the island to prosper and what our generation will bequeath to our children and their children and their children’s children

 Any development at, around, and in forest rich resource areas in fragile environments like Tonolei must stand and pass the scrutiny of all stakeholders, the ABG, independent experts on land use and those that have studied the known damage to land by palm oil plantations. We must not shy away from independent critique on the potential decimation of the area, including logging and denuding  trees if an SABL-type Agreement is what is being proposed. Transparency is the key to all resources development to which governments are a party.

 We must come out of the Referendum, irrespective of how the cookie crumbles, with a Bougainville that caters to everybody. A Bougainville that everyone benefits from because we all own a piece of her. A Bougainville where our inherent cultures are not so much about giving and taking but rather, more about sharing.

We definitely do not want a Bougainville where a few benefit at the expense of the majority. No child in Bougainville should suffer or sacrifice their future owing to poor decisions around development and management of our natural resources and our environment. The choice is we either sell our inheritance down the river or create a future for all, always putting children and future generations first.






Bougainville News : War and Peace : The Bougainville peace process must succeed , we owe it to our future generations

  ” There is a very good reason why the Bougainville peace process must succeed. The Bougainville Peace Agreement is a joint product, a joint creation between PNG and like-minded leaders of Bougainville. The PNG Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government are beholden to the BPA and committed to its success. We owe it to our future generations to make it succeed.

The Bougainville Referendum is as much about sustainable peace as it is about the people’s political choice. Whatever the outcome it is also about a peaceful coexistence and respecting that choice.

Our Parliaments – the PNG National Parliament and the Bougainville House of Representatives – must bear witness and exercise the ultimate call to commit to a lasting peace, by their deeds and actions, in the spirit of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

We have this opportunity to show the world how difficult issues can be resolved – fully, successfully and locally. This would provide a stark contrast to the numerous international examples where similar opportunities have been squandered “

Simon Pentanu

Anything war can do, peace can do better. There is no triumph in war. No victors. No winners. No joy. No glory.

Big and so called little wars are a menace to life on earth. They scorch the landscape, cause enormous damage to individuals and societies wherever and whenever they occur. They drench and gut humanity in irreparable ways. They leave untold mental and physical wounds that remain open and infected over generations.

Humans never seem to learn history’s lessons about the terrors and untold damage that come from fighting wars. The only lesson we seem to take away is, if another war has to be fought, it has to be fought harder, better, quicker and smarter. This lesson – which is no solution at all – feeds itself in never ending spirals that lead to more feuds, more fights, more wars. Examples of this are stark and real. They are dotted across every corner of the globe.

All wars do more harm than good. War is the most harmful and despicable form of terrorism against humanity. War even twists our language, as war mongers create euphemisms and meanings that suggest there are justifications for going to war and that friendly fire, collateral damage and injuries are par for the course, expected and normal. 

The rules of engagement – yes, you must follow the war rules – favour the wealthy and strong, and disadvantage the meek and weak. Guerrilla warfare tactics have emerged to counteract this disparity. The Viet Cong were a guerrilla outfit. The BRA was a guerrilla outfit. Fidel Castro started out in his military fatigues thinking, employing and deploying guerrilla tactics. Comrade Mugabe, who recently reluctantly resigned as President of Zimbabwe, was still baffling the world with bellicose rhetoric as if he was still in a guerrilla resistance against his one-time Rhodesian enemies

Latter day religious fundamentalists also drill themselves into a similar state of combative and defensive preparedness laced with religious fervour to fight their enemies.

All wars – conventional, non-conventional or guerrilla – leave disastrous effects and consequences. PNG and its one time province – now the Autonomous Region of Bougainville – are still reeling from a civil war in peace time. Let us not call the Bougainville crisis just a conflict. Both sides lost lives. Bougainville lost 20,000 or more people.







Bougainville Mining News : Have plans to restart the giant Bougainville mine stalled ?

SYDNEY, October 6 (Reuters) – Plans to reopen one of the world’s biggest copper mines, shut by a civil war on the Pacific Island of Bougainville in 1989, have run into trouble.

The quarter of a million people of Bougainville are tentatively scheduled to vote on independence from Papua New Guinea in June 2019, and revenue from the reopening of the Panguna mine is essential for the otherwise impoverished island to have any chance of flourishing if it becomes the world’s newest nation.

But there is now a struggle over who will run the mine between Bougainville Copper Ltd – the previous operator now backed by the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Papua New Guinea government – and a consortium of Australian investors supported by the head of the landowners who own the mineral rights.

The dispute is opening old wounds – and is almost certainly going to delay any reopening. That could help to drive copper prices higher as many forecasters expect that demand for the base metal will exceed supply in the next few years.

The battle lines have been hardening on several fronts, Reuters has learned.

Papua New Guinea has told airlines that Sydney businessman Ian de Renzie Duncan, who set up the consortium, is banned from entering the country until 2024, according to a Papua New Guinea government document reviewed by Reuters.

The request for the ban was made by the Bougainville government, three sources with knowledge of the document said.

The consortium has also acknowledged for the first time that it is paying some landowners a monthly stipend and has pulled in some big backers that have not previously been disclosed.

They include Richard Hains, part of a billionaire Australian race-horse owning family which runs hedge fund Portland House Group.

In a sign of how ugly the row is getting on the ground, local opponents of BCL becoming the operator – and some who are opposed to the mine reopening altogether – blocked Bougainville government officials from entering Panguna in June.

They had hoped to get key landowners to sign a memorandum of agreement that would have endorsed BCL as preferred developer, according to a copy of the document reviewed by Reuters. The proposed agreement also stipulated the mine would be re-opened by June 2019, ahead of BCL’s own timeframe of 2025-26.

The Papua New Guinea government didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story.

Bougainville’s main political leaders say getting the mine reopened is critical. “If the independence of the people is to be sustained then we need Panguna to run,” Bougainville Vice President and Mining Minister Raymond Masono told Reuters in a phone interview.

He said he believes BCL has first right of refusal to operate the mine under laws passed three years ago, and only if BCL declined to take up that right should an open tender take place.

 For a graphic on Panguna mine on Bougainville island, click


The abandoned copper and gold mine contains one of the world’s largest copper deposits. During its 17-year life until the closure in 1989, Panguna was credited for generating almost one-half of Papua New Guinea’s gross domestic product.

The civil war was largely about how the profits from the mine should be shared, and about the environmental damage it had caused.

There was deep resentment among the indigenous Bougainville people about the amount of the wealth that was going to Papua New Guinea and to the mine’s then operator, Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd, a forerunner of Rio Tinto.

The mine was forced to shut after a campaign of sabotage by the rebel Bougainville Revolutionary Army.

The conflict between Bougainville’s rebel guerrilla army and Papua New Guinea forces left as many as 20,000 dead over the following decade, making it the biggest in the region known as Oceania since the Second World War.

A supplied image shows locals taking shelter from rain under a local administrative building at the former Bougainville Copper Limited’s (BCL) Panguna mining operation located on the Pacific Ocean island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, March 29, 2017. Picture taken March 29, 2017. BCL/Handout via REUTERS

Rio Tinto divested its stake in BCL in 2016, and the listed company is now just over one-third owned by the Bougainville government and one-third owned by Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O‘Neill said last year his government would gift the shares received from Rio, or 17.4 percent, to the people of Bougainville, although that is yet to take place.


The challenge from the Australian consortium that now includes listed gold and copper explorer RTG Mining was made public in June. Duncan and his fellow investors have joined forces with a group of Panguna landowners, the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowner Association (SMLOLA) led by Philip Miriori.

Miriori was in the Bougainville Revolutionary Army as the private secretary to the late Francis Ona, the former BCL mine surveyor who became leader of the resistance.

Ona had declared that BCL should “never again” be allowed to run the mine and Miriori, Ona’s brother-in-law, still supports that stance.

“They have caused a lot of damage, they don’t have the money and they are not telling the truth and so I wouldn’t accept them,” Miriori said in a telephone interview from the Bougainville town of Arawa.



Duncan, a former barrister with a background in mining law, heads an entity called Central Exploration that has a half share of the consortium.

Duncan’s consortium has been paying money, described as a stipend, to some of the landowners, but denies this amounts to bribery.

“We are really talking about people receiving a couple of thousand kina ($608) a month,” said Duncan, who added that the money helps the landowners to travel and find accommodation in towns where Panguna negotiations take place. “It’s not bribery, it’s business,” he said.

BCL claims to have the support of eight other landowner groups in Bougainville with an interest in the project. They have land rights covering access roads and the port site, among other areas, though crucially not the mine site itself.


The uncertainty is going to make it difficult for either group to raise the capital that will be needed to get the mine restarted.

In 2012, BCL estimated the cost of re-opening at $5 billion. With few of its own assets, the company would need to secure the mining rights before tapping capital markets.

The Australian consortium may be in a stronger position, according to Hains, who is a 15 percent owner of RTG. He said the consortium has strong access to the North American capital markets and could re-develop Panguna in a “highly timely fashion”.

As it stands, BCL has no mine without the support of the owners of the minerals, and Duncan’s group has no project without road and port rights as well as government support.

Anthony Regan, a constitutional lawyer at the Australian National University and an adviser to the Bougainville government, said the immediate outlook for the mine is bleak. “The need of Bougainville to have a significant source of revenue if it’s to be really autonomous or independent has become hopelessly enmeshed with the future of Panguna.”

Reporting by Jonathan Barrett in SYDNEY; Editing by Martin Howell

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Bougainville News : President Momis concerned about PNG PM O’Neill’s ill-informed and misleading referendum comments


Bougainville President Chief Dr John Momis says he is extremely concerned that comments from Prime Minister O’Neil raising doubts about the referendum will produce only suspicion and doubt about his intentions to follow the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

“The Prime Minister’s comments on the floor of National Parliament about the conditions for the Bougainville referendum going ahead are wrong,” President Momis said.

“Weapons disposal and good governance are not conditions or criteria for stopping the referendum, they are simply conditions for setting the date – something we both agreed last year should be 15 June 2019 as a target date, but it must be held before 15 June 2020 according to the Peace Agreement.”

Watch video HERE

“The Prime Minister’s statement is dangerous – it can mislead people.”
President Momis assured his people that the Bougainville referendum will go ahead – and that the target date remains 15 June, 2019.

“My message to all Bougainvilleans is that the Peace Agreement is clear, the referendum will go ahead.

“To all those who have been working hard on getting rid of weapons, setting up a well-functioning Autonomous Bougainville Government, cleaning up public service – please continue your good work, your work will secure a peaceful and prosperous future for Bougainville.”

President Momis said Members of Parliament are closely involved in getting their communities weapons-free and people referendum ready – and that they were doing this without funding or assistance from the National Government.

“In fact the National Government, through its lack of grant payment is actually hampering and not assisting our drive towards good governance. They have dismally failed to give Bougainville what is due under the Constitution to us – we have not been asking for any more or any less.”

President Momis instead emphasised the need for continued and close collaboration that the Peace Agreement was founded on.

“The BPA is joint creation, to be implemented with integrity by both governments, so that the referendum outcome also has integrity and is mutually accepted.

“These statements are either irresponsible or ill-informed. But these sorts of statements are dangerous – it suggests to people that maybe the National Government does not want to collaborate with us and implement the Peace Agreement.

“On our side, we will continue to stick to the BPA, we will get rid of the guns, clean up the government and get ourselves prepared for foreign investment to help grow our economy to develop our resources.

We must move quickly to explain things to the Prime Minister, to brief him properly – so that he doesn’t create suspicions and instead increase the necessary collaboration leading up to and beyond the referendum vote.

The best way to once and for all resolve the Bougainville crisis is to work together, spend monies as per the Peace Agreement, and link more than a decade of peace with much needed economic development and effective government service provision.”

Hon. Chief Dr. John L Momis, GCL, MHR
President, Autonomous Bougainville Government

Bougainville independence referendum ‘may not be possible’ with key conditions not met: PNG PM

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has cast doubt on whether an independence referendum will go ahead for the autonomous region of Bougainville because key conditions have not been met.

Part of the peace agreement that ended a decade-long secessionist conflict between Bougainville and Papua New Guinea was the proposal to hold a referendum on independence before 2020.

Bougainville needs to meet certain criteria before the referendum can be held, Mr O’Neill told PNG’s Parliament.

“That includes a proper establishment of rule of law, proper establishment of a government structure on Bougainville, proper disposal of weapons — so all those issues are yet to be met, Mr Speaker, as we speak today,” he said.

“I don’t want Papua New Guineans and Bougainvilleans to think that it’s an easy path, that we’ll just wake up tomorrow and have a referendum.

“It may be such that it’s not possible.”

Bougainville electoral commissioner George Manu and PNG electoral commissioner Patilias Gamato.

Mr O’Neill told MPs the PNG Government would help Bougainville resolve the problems, but did not give details.

“We need to work between now and then to work harder in making sure that we attend to the issues that are clearly defined and stated in the peace agreement,” he said.

“I want to assure the [Autonomous Bougainville Government] and the people of Bougainville that we are there to work with them in resolving these issues.”

In January, the PNG and Bougainville governments set up a commission to prepare for the referendum, but did not give it any funding at the time.

The Bougainville Government wants to restart a controversial copper mine, blamed for triggering the conflict to provide revenue for an independent state, but faces some local opposition.

Bougainville Peace and Referendum News : 16 years since the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed, what are the next steps


” The Bougainville Peace Agreement intends to “Promote and pursue meaningful reconciliation. Weapons disposal and reconciliation are both mutually reinforcing and necessary to lasting peace by peaceful means.”

Bougainville Peace Agreement, 2001. Did you know you can read the Bougainville Peace Agreement online?

Go to to read this foundational document.

August 30 marked sixteen years since the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed, ushering in a new era of peace and unity amongst Bougainvilleans and with the rest of Papua New Guinea.

What is the next step ? Referendum

The Governor General of Papua New Guinea his excellency SIR BOB DADAE today signed the REFERENDUM CHARTER for Bougainville in Port Moresby.

The Charter now paves the way for Bougainville to speed up its preparation the REFERENDUM that the two Governments had set a target date to work towards.
AND the target date is JUNE 15th 2019.

This was announced by the Secretary for the Referendum Office, MR. JAMES TANIS in Buka today.

MR. TANIS announced during the gathering in Buka that the Governor General has signed the Charter at 2 PM this afternoon.

He said that Bougainville needs to celebrate another history in the walk for Peace and Unification throughout Bougainville.

It has been 16 years since the signing of an important blue print document that put an end to the island’s civil war. Reported  here

The Bougainville Peace Agreement paved the way for lasting peace on the war torn island of Bougainville, following the post conflict which erupted from disputes over the Panguna Mine.

On August 30, 2001, the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed in Arawa, Central Bougainville.

The agreement between the Government of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

It was intended to further objectives of The Burnham Truce, Lincoln and Ceasefire Agreements and other agreements and understanding between both parties.

It was aimed to be implemented through consultation and co-operation.

Three pillars of autonomy, referendum and weapons disposal were set as guidelines for the referendum conduct in 2019.

Several Government delegations from mainland Papua New Guinea visited Bougainville to restore the government’s trust and confidence to the people.

Among them was Papua New Guinea’s former Prime Minister, Bill Skate, who favourably went to simply request hard liners and war loads to surrender their weapons.

And that was documented in the Ceasefire Agreement.

Women were at the forefront, negotiating for peace.

The Peace Monitoring Group comprising of Australia, New Zealand, Vanuatu and Fiji were deployed into Bougainville in 1998, and monitored the peace agreement, reported on ceasefire violations, and supported the peace process and also involved in the weapon disposal programs.

They withdraw their mission in 2000 in a ceremony at the Independence Oval in Arawa.

The signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001, allowed for the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government in 2005,with Joseph Kabui, elected as the first president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

It’s a win-win solution and since 2005, the full implementation of the peace accord, has never been realised.

One of the major issues was with the grants owed to Bougainville by the National Government.

Chief John Momis, since elected as president in 2010, he has been very vocal on matters concerning Bougainville especially the grants.

In 2014, Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill paid a goodwill visit to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

But the Joint Supervisory Meeting is another aspect that gives value to the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

Since May last years, there has been no meeting as yet.

The new Bougainville Affairs Minister and Central Bougainville MP, Fr Simon Dumarinu said the JSB Meeting will be a priority and should be the first agenda, as the deadline looms.

Meanwhile President, Momis reminded Bougainvilleans that the signing of this important blue print document, paved the way for lasting peace on the island, following the post conflict on the island.

By Aloysius Laukai

The former Chairman of the LEITANA COUNCIL OF ELDERS during the negotiation days before the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001, JOEL BANAM says that LEITANA opted for Autonomy instead of the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) Declared by FRANCIS ONA in 1990 in Arawa.

He made these remarks when speaking to the women of Bougainville who gathered in Buka today to commemorate the Signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001.

MR. BANAM said that LEITANA wanted to make sure Bougainville goes with AUTONOMY to prepare Bougainville for the Independence after the Referendum.

He said LEITANA wanted to make sure Bougainville was united and removed guns and also raised its own funds to run the new nation.

MR. BANAM said that they saw that going straight to Independence would result in more deaths and non-stop fighting that could destroy Bougainville further.

Meanwhile, the former Vice President for the Bougainville People’s Congress at the time of the negotiations and now the Secretary for the Referendum office and former President JAMES TANIS confirmed comments made earlier by MR. JOEL BANAM.

MR. TANIS said that the LEITANA COUNCIL OF ELDERS was needed to make sure Bougainville leaders were united and speak as one when negotiating with the National Government.

The celebrations continued with extra items as more women registered items to perform.
The items included String Bands, Choirs, Jimmy Shand Music and discos.

This was the second such celebration since the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed on August 30th, 2001.

The first celebration was held in 2011 when the UN Officers from New York and PNG came to Buka to commemorate ten years since the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed.
It was then followed by a UN led Peace Walk across the NUMA NUMA TRACK starting from WAKUNAI to TOROKINA.
Reporters from New Dawn FM and the local NBC accompanied the UN team on this walk.

Caption of the March in Buka today Picture by Aloysius Laukai

#Bougainville Communications and Media report : We need to improve awareness activities on the peace agreement and upcoming referendum.

Government research conducted across Bougainville has laid the foundation for more targeted public awareness.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has released a report on people’s access to media and communication channels to better target awareness activities on the peace agreement and upcoming referendum.

The report is based on a survey of over 1,000 people across Bougainville. It found that the varying, but generally low access to government information required new approaches with greater attention to presentation of information.

The report recommended tapping into new channels people are using such as mobile phone and video, but a general need to focus on the content of information with clear, simple and consistently repeated messages, designed with the target audience in mind – whether they be youth, women or people of different levels of literacy.

The survey was an initiative of the Bureau of Media and Communications and was
conducted by the Centre for Social and Creative Media , University of Goroka.

Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau thanked Bougainvilleans for their participation in the survey and assured them that the government was listening to their voice.

“This survey has gone down to the grassroots level to find out why awareness of the BPA and government remains low”, Nobetau said.

“It has found the penetration of traditional media: radio, newspapers and television, and newer internet channels is very low, especially outside Buka and Arawa. This creates a major challenge for a government to communicate with its people.”

The research showed there was still confusion about key aspects of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

People said they wanted the government to come down to their level, invest in radio, but also suggested new ideas, like using mobile phone for information dissemination.

Mr Nobetau said while the survey showed there is a lot of work to do to prepare people for the referendum, it also gave many good ideas about how to do things better.

“The lack of a good understanding of the Peace Agreement is evidence that we cannot rely on using the same old awareness approaches of the past. We must look at presenting information more clearly, more consistently, more often, and use a variety of different ways to get a two-way flow of information happening. This will create greater impact and greater understanding.”

The head of the Bureau of Media and Communications Adriana Schmidt, said they were already responding to the findings.

“We are currently working with the Department of Peace Agreement Implementation to prepare multi-media information kits for our Members of Parliament, producing video and investigating mobile-phone based awareness,” Ms Schmidt said.

“With this report, the government has listened to the views of people and we are now better placed to plan and implement improved awareness.”

The Chief Secretary called upon all government agencies and communication partners to use the report to improve engagement with community.

“The task ahead is to better target our awareness campaigns and we will continue to survey and measure our activities in this regard.”

The Bougainville Audience Study asked people about their access to radio, mobile phone, TV, newspaper and the internet, their most trusted sources of information, and preferred ways of receiving government news. The research also asked people about their level of understanding of the three pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement: weapons disposal, autonomy and referendum, and other issues.

The survey was an initiative of the Bureau of Media and Communications,
conducted by Centre for Social and Creative Media , University of Goroka, with funding support from the governments of Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Australia and New Zealand. Over 1,114 people were surveyed, and 200 in-depth interviews conducted.

Bougainville Mining News : Bougainville Copper Limited’s Panguna mine hits roadblock from protesters

 ” The push to reopen a controversial copper mine on the island of Bougainville has suffered a setback, with opposition groups stopping the region’s government from going to the mine site and signing a new agreement with landowners.”

Reported from ABC Australia

The Panguna mine was abandoned by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) in 1989 after disaffection from landowners grew into an armed uprising and a push for independence from Papua New Guinea.

The President and Cabinet of the Autonomous Bougainville Government had planned to go to the Panguna mine site to sign an agreement that would allow BCL to work towards reopening the mine.

But so-called “hardline” groups and other opponents, led by angry women, blocked the road and demanded the Government and the company abandon their plans.

BCL blamed for crisis and ‘destruction’

Many of the women were not from the specific mine area but say they were affected by the horror of the Bougainville Crisis — the armed uprising in which 20,000 people died.

“I don’t want mining to be opened, no BCL, no mining. Because land is owned by the women, not the men,” said Regina Erengmari, one of the women in the blockade.

Many of the protesters are specifically opposed to BCL returning, because they blame it for the crisis.

But others, like Bernardine Kama, are opposed to any company reopening the mine.

“I grew up within the damages and the destructions of the mine and I know much destruction has been done,” she said.

But there are many people from the area who want negotiations about reopening the mine to begin.

Panguna’s nine landowner associations were expecting to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Autonomous Bougainville Government to say the mine would reopen and that BCL would operate it.

Theresa Jaintong, who chairs one of the landowner associations, said signing the agreement is important.

“It’s important to me because I have issues to address with BCL and also the government, all other landowners and also representing my own people, and we were looking forward to sign and then open the door to other outstanding issues,” she said.

Government needs mine’s revenue for independence

Bougainville’s government is in a hurry to reopen the mine, because it needs the revenue if it wants to be viable as an independent country from Papua New Guinea.

President John Momis said the mine is critical to any proposal for independence.

“Will independence be possible without Panguna mine? I don’t think it is possible,” he said.

The Government is now waiting two weeks while the groups negotiate and is planning a public information campaign.

In two years’ time, there will be a referendum on Bougainville to determine if the region should secede from Papua New Guinea.

Some opponents have threatened violence if the proposal to reopen the mine proceeds.

But President Momis says the Government will continue to work towards reopening Panguna, because it believes it’s the best way to provide for the people most affected by its closure.

“This government is committed to make sure that people who have been most detrimentally affected, and the landowners have been in Panguna, we have to look after them,” he said.

Bougainville News Feature 2 of 2 : After 27 years , #Panguna landowners compensated by #BCL

” HAVING lost much of their precious land and rivers, landowners in and around Panguna do have grievances. But welcoming the culprit back into their midst to remedy some conflicts is a goal they see as paramount to the progress of Bougainville as a whole.

Thus the communities of the Upper Tailings prepared for almost a month for the day when the mining company, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), would pay them compensation outstanding since 1990 – 27 years before.”

Reprinted with the kind permission of LEONARD FONG ROKA

BCL had a cordial welcome from the people of my home Enamira Village in the heart of the Upper Tailings area of the Panguna District.

A short traditional ceremony to mend broken ties and restore relations with the community of the Tumpusiong Valley, as it is known widely today, began the day. This was followed by speeches that emphasised concord, collaboration and remediation of all the issues attached to the Panguna mine.

It was a go-forward for Bougainville because BCL was giving the mine-affected people a sign that the physical destruction of their land and life by mining no longer meant they had been deserted by the company responsible for their destitution.

BCL, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and other stakeholders were led by BCL manager Justin (Ted) Rogers.

Their mission was to verify and help locals finalise legal documents and bank accounts for title holders of land areas leased by BCL all those years ago.

The money ought to have been paid in 1990 but the Bougainville conflict of 1988-97 got in the way. Thus only now the people of the Panguna District queued to get what was owed to them by BCL.

This prevented possible eruption of conflict and maintained harmony within the Upper Tailings lease and its community members.

The tailings of the Panguna mine is in three sectors: the Lower Tailings (South Bougainville’s Bana District), the Mid-Tailings (Jaba to Konnuku Village) and the Upper Tailings (Tonanau Village to Dingumori).

In money terms there was a great variation in compensation depending on the size of the land blocks subject to royalties. The Lower Tailings, geographically a vast plain stretching from the Mid-Tailings to the coast, received a massive amount of K1 million-plus. The Mid-Tailings took about half-a-million while we in the Upper Tailings get something less than K50,000.

According to sources, the Special Mining Lease land title holders from areas directly around the mine will get close to a million kina.

BCL spent four days in the Upper Tailings with the people. Where disputes arose amongst people over land titles, BCL directed them to share the benefits. Thus peace prevailed.

Happy faces came out of the buildings where people were interacting with BCL and ABG officials. Above all, BCL manager Rogers was everywhere chatting and smiling with the people.

As BCL and its entourage left, the people stood by feeling relieved. What some of their elders had long waited for had materialised.

Many in the Upper Tailings are now telling themselves to make good use of the BCL money so it will have some lasting positive impact on their lives and the community as a whole.

They are telling themselves not to be like the Arawa Villagers who received K3 million from the national government for the lease of the land in the Arawa township but hardly have seen any tangible development.

They say the whole of Bougainville is watching us – and peace is intact as my people flock into Arawa, where the bank is, to get and use that BCL money

Bougainville News : Consultancy: Communications Strategy – Bougainville Referendum Project

The PNG National Research Institute as part of its work in researching and analysing strategic issues for national development, consider the Referendum and Bougainville to be of a significant national event that will impact the well-being of the people of Bougainville and the people of PNG.

Download the Terms of reference :


Or NRI Website

The PNG NRI therefore independently plans to undertake a set of research projects that will generate information to inform discussions in preparation for the referendum so that the outcome is credible and respected by all parties and ensuring a peaceful outcome for the people of Bougainville.

The PNG NRI research project proposes to inquire and inform stakeholders on three key central questions:

  • What is a Referendum and why is it being held?
  • How can the Referendum be effectively administered?
  • What are possible outcomes and how can the outcome of the Referendum be effectively managed and implemented?

The Institute seeks applications from qualified candidates to develop the Communications Strategy for the project.  This is a critical piece of work that will provide a foundation for dissemination of the research generated by the Project.

The strategy will be developed on a consultancy basis.  Applications are due by Friday 26 May 2017.

The Bougainville Referendum Research – Communication Strategy

Background Information

1.1. The Bougainville Referendum

The people of Bougainville will vote in a Referendum before June 15 2020 to determine their political future; – a choice between whether Bougainville remains a part of Papua New Guinea under an Autonomous Governance Arrangement, or to become a fully Independent State, an option to be included in the Referendum.

This is an important milestone as part of a Peace Agreement reached in 2001 following a brutal Civil War between 1989 and 1999.

The conflict was initially triggered by issues over redistribution over landowner benefits from the Bougainville Copper mine, then fuelled by long held secessionist sentiments mobilised into a civil war against PNG Government forces, that later flared into localised conflicts between different factions after the government forces withdrew and maintained a blockade around the islands of Bougainville.

The war resulted in more than ten thousand persons estimated to have been killed and destruction of major infrastructure as well as social disruptions leaving half the population of Bougainville displaced.

Cessation of fighting in 1998 led to negotiations for a Peace Agreement.

One of the key stickypoints in the negotiations was a call by factions of the Bougainville delegation on a Referendum for Independence. This was finally agreed to, but deferred to a period after fifteen years following the establishment of an autonomous Bougainville Government but before the end of twenty years.

Reports and findings from recent studies done on Bougainville indicate a lack of general information about what is a Referendum and its purpose.

It is important that the people of Bougainville are clear about the purpose of the referendum, the choices available and the implications of their choice of a political future when they cast their vote.

The Referendum outcome also has implications for the wider PNG as it challenges the essence of the PNG Nation State for maintaining a unified country of a diversified people, yet ensuring that a peaceful outcome is achieved for Bougainville.

It is therefore also critical for robust informed discussions that would lead to informed decisions and outcomes over Bougainville’s future as well about autonomous governance arrangements in PNG.


Bougainville News : BRA, MGU, Twin Kingdom and MDF sign understanding to work together toward Bougainville’s referendum in 2019


On Friday, the former Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), Me’ekamui Government of Unity (MGU), Twin Kingdom Factions and the Me’ekamui Defence Force (MDF) signed an understanding to work together to pursue peace leading to the Bougainville referendum in 2019.

Picture above : Former BRA factions members (ex-combatants), womens reps and ABG representatives standing together to show their unification in working towards a peaceful process to referendum.

The meeting was conducted under the theme: ‘Re-Unifying Bougainville for a free and fair referendum.’

The factions met for four (4) days at the Goro Homes Village Resort in Arawa to recall the events that took place in Roreinang from the 25th – 27th of September 1997, which triggered the split in the BRA to different factions.

Those present at the meeting recalled the events of the ‘Roreinang Coup,’ especially;

  • Gun fired in front of Francis Ona, Joseph Kabui, Sam Kauona, David Sisito, Jonathan Ngati, Andrew Miriki, Jacob Aroku, Bernard Tunim and David Onavui,
  • Letter to Francis Ona from the BRA Commanders demanding him not to engage in activities that could jeopardise the ongoing Burnham Peace Talks,
  • Letter from Francis Ona terminating BRA Commanders and Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) Members
  • Split between Francis Ona and Joseph Kabui
  • Split between BRA Company Commanders and ‘A’ Company.

The ex-combatants present at the meeting acknowledged their split and recognised the limited time they had available leading towards the appointed date of Bougainville’s referendum on June 15th 2019, thus making it their top priority to work together.

Picture above : Former BRA General, Sam Kauona (L) and former BRA ‘A’ Company Commander MDF General, Moses Pipiro shaking hands after signing the understanding to work together towards referendum.

The signed understanding was to reaffirm their commitment to pursue peace by all means and make aware the importance of the unification process.

It was also a commitment to continue to the best of their ability to resolve the issues that arose from the ‘Roreinang Coup’ and further commit themselves to work in partnership with the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP) in moving the process leading to the Referendum and beyond.

The parties agreed that between May 15th – 17th, 2017, they will reconcile their differences through major reconciliation ceremonies to be held at Roreinang, Panguna and Arawa. The understanding was signed by Philip Miriori – Former Secretary, Supreme National Council (SNC), Ishmael Toroama – Former BRA Chief of Defence, Gunther Using – Twin Kingdom, Sam Kauona – Former General, BRA, Moses Pipiro – Former BRA ‘A’ Company Commander, MDF General, Co-Chairman, Roreinang Coup Committee, and David Sisito – Former BIG Defence Minister and was witnessed by Honourable Thomas Tari – Member House of Representatives (MHR), Veterans Member for South Bougainville, Honourable Noah Doko – MHR, Veterans Member for Central Bougainville, Honourable Ben Malatan – MHR, Veterans Member for North Bougainville, Honourable Albert Punghau, MHR, Minister for Bougainville Peace Agreement Implementation and James Tanis – Secretary Department of Bougainville Peace Agreement implementation.