Bougainville Peace News : UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) Four key priorities include strengthening the relationship and trust between the #PNG Government and ABG towards effective implementation of the #Bougainville Peace Agreement  

The four key priorities are

(i) strengthening the relationship and trust between the PNG Government and ABG towards effective implementation of the BPA;

(ii) empowering the people of Bougainville to make informed choices in the referendum and increased confidence in the BPA process through access to objective information and fora for dialogue;

 (iii) strengthening community social cohesion and security in Bougainville through opportunities to deal with conflict-related trauma and resolution of local disputes; and

(iv) strengthening the ABG’s understanding and commitment to women’s empowerment and addressing some of the major issues faced by women in Bougainville communities, especially gender-based violence.

Originally Published HERE 

From 26 to 31 August, a mission of the partners of the UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund (PBF) including Australia, Belgium, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Norway visited Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Pictured above in Buka with the Speaker of the ABG House Simon Pentanu

The mission allowed partners to engage with the Government, civil society organizations, beneficiaries and the UN System and appreciate the impact of the PBF’s support. Participants discussed the PBF engagement approach, project results and also challenges and remaining needs in peace consolidation.

The mission included visits to Port Moresby, the capital of PNG, and to Buka, the capital of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, which has been the focus for the PBF’s support.

Context

Bougainville is an autonomous region within PNG. After nearly a decade of a bloody conflict between 1989 and 1997 resulting in about 20,000 casualties, the PNG Government and representatives of Bougainville actors involved in the conflict signed the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) in 2001.

This agreement provided the legal basis for the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) in 2005 and a gradual transfer of powers from the national Government. It also included provisions for weapons disposal, governance arrangements, and a referendum on the political status of Bougainville, the outcome of which is subject to the ratification of the PNG National Parliament.

Since 2001, the Agreement has enabled political dialogue between the PNG Government and the ABG and paved the way for the referendum planned for June 2019.

In this period, Bougainville has remained largely peaceful thanks to ongoing peacebuilding efforts. That said, many challenges remain, including key joint decisions yet to be made, additional progress with weapons disposal, reconciliation, integration of ex-combatants and outliers to the peace process, community confidence in the process and social cohesion. The planned referendum will be a critical milestone in this process.

The Peacebuilding Fund in Papua New Guinea

To strengthen the implementation of the BPA and assist the two Governments in making the necessary joint decisions, the PBF support to PNG commenced in 2015 following the declaration of PNG’s eligibility for the Fund by the UN Secretary-General in view of the approaching referendum. PBF support has included two phases totaling $15 million in allocations.

The first phase of $9 million was implemented between mid 2015 to early 2018, while the second totaling $6 million commenced in 2018.

Priorities for PBF support have been : (i) strengthening the relationship and trust between the PNG Government and ABG towards effective implementation of the BPA; (ii) empowering the people of Bougainville to make informed choices in the referendum and increased confidence in the BPA process through access to objective information and fora for dialogue; (iii) strengthening community social cohesion and security in Bougainville through opportunities to deal with conflict-related trauma and resolution of local disputes; and (iv) strengthening the ABG’s understanding and commitment to women’s empowerment and addressing some of the major issues faced by women in Bougainville communities, especially gender-based violence.

In addition to continuing with the first two priority areas, the new PBF phase of support includes (v) a joint and community focused process for weapons disposal and factional unification in Bougainville, accompanied by support for targeted community interventions on security and social cohesion in zones of political factions which had not signed up to the Peace Agreement, and (vi) stronger involvement of women and youth in the Peace Agreement and referendum processes. Projects are implemented by UNDPUN WomenUNFPAUNICEFand OHCHR together with partners.

Highlights

The Mission started with a meeting with the UN Resident Coordinator (RC), Gianluca Rampolla. He highlighted some of the important steps taken recently on the path towards the referendum, including agreements on the Bougainville Referendum Commission, but raised concerns on the short remaining timeline and the ambitious steps still pending, including the voter roll and the precise formulation of the question on the ballot.

An economic downturn made it more difficult for the national Government to allocate funds for various aspects relating to the peace agreement and the referendum, including the Bougainville Referendum Commission, the weapons disposal and the restoration and development grant.

But two sides have a common interest in making progress and maintaining the process’ integrity, not least because Bougainville’s political status will not be determined by the referendum alone. Rather, the referendum will lead to consultations between the two Governments on the next steps, including the national Parliament’s role in considering the referendum outcome. Any transition will take time and may require the amendment of the PNG Constitution. The RC highlighted that PBF support in 2015 had come at a crucial moment when the two Governments’ relationship was under some strain. “The Government has increasingly requested the UN to be part of a very sensitive political space in the lead up to the referendum in Bougainville and none of this would have been possible without the PBF.” The PBF enabled the UN to work better together and sharpened the preventive focus of the UN Country Team, providing a common platform.

The Mission team also listened to a briefing by the Autonomy Review experts, who were in country to conduct a fact-finding mission.

This is the second such review since the ABG was formed in 2005. It is mandated by the BPA and its objective is to provide a neutral assessment of the state of progress of autonomy arrangements by the ABG and the national Government. The current review is funded by the PBF.

The Mission participants then continued on to Buka (Bougainville) where they met with key ABG leaders and officials over two days, including the Vice President, the Deputy Chief Secretary, the Minister and the Secretary for Peace Agreement Implementation, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minister for Community Development, women Parliamentarians, Bougainville Women’s Federation, members of the Community Government, human rights defenders, and a selection of ex-combatants, including an ex-combatant Parliamentarian.

On their return to Port Moresby, the mission met with the Bougainville President, Chief Dr John Momis, who was returning to Bougainville. The main impressions conveyed by these interlocutors were:

  • PBF has been a very important partner in the political space and is seen to be making a positive contribution to the peace process and progress towards the referendum. In particular, the PBF is seen to be a major source of support for dialogue between the two Governments and for taking forward some of the Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) resolutions. According to James Tanis, the Secretary for Peace Agreement Implementation, “PBF has allowed for a continuity of dialogue even at times of mistrust and despite obstacles.”
  • PBF is also seen to be helping the ABG and the political factions to negotiate amongst themselves and come to common positions. Moreover, PBF support has enabled creative positive connections between PNG and ABG, including through a recent helpful visit by the leadership of the PNG Council of Churches.
  • PBF is seen as having made a crucial contribution to referendum discussions and preparations, especially by training the Bougainville MPs on the Peace Agreement and enabling them all to travel to and engage with their constituencies on the “Referendum Ready” process, which included sharing information and engaging in discussions on the BPA and the referendum, encouraging weapons disposal and helping to address remaining security concerns within the communities, following an agreed checklist. Hon. Francesca Samoso, the Deputy Speaker, stated: “With PBF support, we were able to travel to our constituencies, including the areas where ex-combatants hadn’t signed up to the BPA and raise awareness about the peace process and the referendum.”
  • Hon. Marcelline Kokiai also stated: “Through supporting the Referendum Ready process, the PBF has made souls meet. People who had not spoken to each other since the conflict are now coming together.” That said, interlocutors noted the need for additional support for reaching the constituencies, including through the community Government, to ensure that all the 33 constituencies have the support to go through the ABG-designated requirements to be declared as referendum ready and weapons free.
  • PBF support has contributed to some initial exchanges between the two Parliaments including the support to visits of the National Parliament bi-partisan committee on Bougainville Affairs and a draft MOU between the two Parliaments. This was seen as an important step forward, but interlocutors felt that more needed to be done given the level of understanding for and commitments to the BPA were still rather low.
  • PBF helped increase women’s participation in the political and peacebuilding debate. The female MPs testified how the UN’s accompaniment including training and travel helped reduce marginalization and increase their participation. They were also supported in rolling out three regional women’s unification ceremonies and establishing a parliamentary committee on gender equality and human rights.
  • Interlocutors in Bougainville generally felt that there is some room for the national Government to make more effort in implementing the Peace Agreement and enabling progress towards the referendum. Various promised funds have not yet been made available, impeding progress towards the referendum. A second JSB meeting, expected in mid 2018, to address the referendum question had not yet been agreed. Bougainville was ready to go forward, yet the timeline was shrinking and patience was waning. That said, there was a clear sentiment from all leaders that maintaining peace and stability would be paramount. There was also an understanding of why it is difficult for the national Government to contemplate potential independence of one of its parts. Moreover, the Bougainville leadership was clear that the referendum would not in itself lead to independence, but to a transition process mandating the Bougainville representatives to negotiate with the national Government. President Momis stated on the referendum: “It doesn’t matter which way the cookie crumbles, as long as the process is fair and inclusive and addresses the underlying grievances, as per the Peace Agreement.”
  • More needs to be done to address the grievances and demands by the ex-combatants, some of whom continue to be outside the Peace process, and to find ways to involve youth – both of which are included as particular areas of focus in the new PBF projects.
  • Interlocutors in Bougainville emphasized the importance of continued international presence and of UN support for the oversight of the implementation of the Peace Agreement to help ensure continued peace and stability. Some made requests for some kind of a UN or regional security observer mission. ABG expressed hope that the international community could help to ensure implementation of the Peace Agreement.

“It doesn’t matter which way the cookie crumbles, as long as the process is fair and inclusive and addresses the underlying grievances, as per the Peace Agreement.” – President John Momis

The Mission team was warmly welcomed to a formal ceremony in the Constituency of Hagogohe, one of the two constituencies which had gone through the full Referendum Ready process and declared itself ready. The ceremony included local leaders, women and youth representatives, who celebrated the moment and emphasized the importance of expressing their voice peacefully. The Mission team then attended the opening of one of three youth resource centers funded through the PBF. The center will provide young people with access to vocational training and a space to get information and discuss political, socio-economic and peacebuilding issues. The center is located on land next to the Parliament, which will be helpful in strengthening links between youth and Members of Parliament.

Back in Port Moresby, the Mission team met with four Members of the National Parliament representing Bougainville, Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and National Executive Council (PMNEC), and Director of National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs. The four Members of Parliament stated that they needed additional support for their interactions with the rest of the PNG Parliament and that they hoped to play a greater role in the coordination of funding going to Bougainville. They also emphasized the critical role of the national Parliament’s bi-partisan committee on Bougainville.

The Deputy Secretary of the Department of PMNEC explained the variety of issues that PNG was facing and prioritizing, including improving health and education services, empowering local level government, dealing with national disasters etc.

He stated that the UN’s work funded by the PBF was important for the Bougainville peace process and mentioned some of the reasons the PNG funding to Bougainville had been delayed, including problems with ABG acquittals and reports.

He also stated that negotiation on the way forward would be key. The Secretary for Foreign Affairs emphasized it was very important for the people of Bougainville to have a chance to express their views and aspirations through the referendum as part of the democratic process. The implementation of the Peace Agreement is also paramount, especially regarding the disposal of weapons. Her Department has been raising awareness of the Peace Agreement and the referendum with the international community. The Secretary confirmed that the UN was considered an objective partner in this process and that the National Government appreciated the UN’s support for the implementation of the Peace Agreement.

The Mission team also met with an Australian NGO, Peace and Conflict Studies Institute Australia (PaCSIA), supporting community discussions throughout Bougainville, which is also establishing a partnership with the UN through PBF funding. The dialogues have shown the people in Bougainville have a genuine willingness to discuss the future political status, to understand better the options for Bougainville, and for a closer engagement with their leaders.

Finally, the Mission team engaged with the UN Country Team on two additional issues:

  • The UN Senior Electoral Officer presented the Bougainville Referendum Support Project, which still confronts a financing gap of nearly $4 million, following a contribution from New Zealand (other partners have been approached but no further contributions have materialized so far). He emphasized the country was 18 months behind the original notional calendar of preparations for the referendum proposed by the UN. Too much focus had been placed on the target date, and not enough on the process to get there, especially the voter roll which presents an important challenge. The funding from the PNG Government had not yet reached the Bougainville Referendum Commission. The question(s) have still not been formulated. It was still possible to catch up but with considerable challenges.
  • The UN Country Team made a presentation on the work in the Highlands region, following the recent earthquakes and humanitarian crises, which required UN assistance to a region that had been largely inaccessible. The UN has conducted a conflict analysis, which shows deep and complex conflict causes and factors in a region fraught by tribal tensions, disagreements over mining and land, high levels of inter-personal violence, increased access to guns, and little presence of and trust in the state. The UN team emphasized the importance of not leaving the Highlands behind but finding innovative ways of supporting local peace champions and local means of conflict prevention and resolution while increasing state presence. The UN is currently applying for a PBF grant through the Gender and Youth Promotion Initiative. Importantly, the Secretary for Foreign Affairs similarly emphasized the importance of assisting the Highlands in her meeting with the Mission team.

Participants appreciated the clear value-added of the UN’s engagement with PBF’s support in regards to the implementation of the BPA. Participants witnessed the One UN approach in action and the commitment and professionalism of UN staff. Participants noted the broad levels of enthusiasm from the partners they met in Bougainville. The road towards the referendum remains complex, but the UN’s engagement with PBF support was focused on the right issues. One challenge which was raised in the closing session was progress with weapons disposal, which is currently only supported by the UN and needs more commitment from the two Governments and engagement by ex-combatants. Overall, participants concluded to the continued need for PBF support and felt, in the words of Amb. Hanns Schumacher, representative from Germany and member of the Secretary-General’s Advisory Group on the PBF that “the projects in PNG provided a sterling examples of how PBF is working to implement its mandated vision and how relatively minor amounts of money can stabilize a complex situation and make a clear impact”.

About the PBF

The UN Secretary-General’s Peacebuilding Fund is the organization’s financial instrument of first resort to sustain peace in countries or situations at risk or affected by violent conflict. The PBF may invest with UN entities, governments, regional organizations, multilateral banks, national multi-donor trust funds or civil society organizations. From 2006 to 2017, the PBF has allocated $772 million to 41 recipient countries. Since inception, 58 member states contributed to the Fund, 33 in the present 2017-2019 Business Plan. The PBF works across pillars and supports integrated UN responses to fill critical gaps; respond quickly and with flexibility to political opportunities; and catalyze processes and resources in a risk-tolerant fashion.

 

Bougainville News coverage : AROB ABG Day celebrates our 13 years as Autonomous Bougainville Government and the question is asked What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?

This is a day that should be celebrated by all Bougainvilleans.

 The past 13 years has brought many challenges for Bougainville as we continue our journey towards political self-determination we have faced obstacles, these includes lack of funds, limited capacity and constraints on our ability to deliver effective services to our people.

 I am proud with what Bougainville has achieved so far.

 Bougainville has demonstrated through the establishments and operation of democratic institutions that we can indeed manage our own affairs

The ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS when addressing today’s ABG Day celebration at the ABG House, KUBU said that today marks the anniversary of the day when Bougainville’s political aspirations were first recognized with the formal establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Intro Photo Bruno Louey see FB Page Bruno Louey

 

 ” What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?

Not everyone will agree but I believe they are our environment, our cultures and our people.

When we think about how to transform Bougainville into a developing, progressive region in the modern world, it’s important we do so by harnessing and protecting these resources.

Our environment, cultures and people are the things that have sustained us for countless generations past – and they can continue to do so today and into the future if we are smart.

Keeping our natural environment healthy while transforming Bougainville into a modern, progressive region is something the ABG can achieve only in close consultation with communities – the land owners and culture custodians

Simon Pentanu Speaker AROB House of Representatives see part 2

There is concern in Bougainville that the Papua New Guinea government has put off a key meeting for two weeks.

The Joint Supervisory Board, the JSB, was to meet yesterday {THUR}  in Arawa, to resolve a number of key issues concerning next year’s planned vote in Bougainville on possible independence from PNG.

But at the behest of Port Moresby the JSB meeting was put back two weeks.

Don Wiseman spoke to the deputy leader of the PNG opposition and MP for southern Bougainville, Timothy Masiu, about the delay

Listen to interview

Part 1 ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS addresses ABG Day celebration

The ABG President Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS when addressing today’s ABG Day celebration at the ABG House, KUBU said that today marks the anniversary of the day when Bougainville’s political aspirations were first recognized with the formal establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

The President said that Bougainville has implemented important reforms established enabling laws and developed public service institutions and structures for the future.

And through the finalization of our strategic development plan we have a road map for the future that includes the referendum and beyond.

President MOMIS stressed that Bougainville cannot become complacent as we mark the anniversary of the Autonomous Government we must also continue to recognize the continued issues that we face.

He said we must remain vigilant in our fight against corruption and in our desire to ensure that our affairs are conducted according to the highest standards of good governance.

At the same time we must continue to grow our economy, empower our people and lay the continued foundation for lasting peace and prosperity throughout Bougainville.

Part 2 THIRTEEN YEARS ON THE SAME MESSAGE CAN BE REPEATED ON BOUGAINVILLE DAY 2018.

 ” THE morning began with a dawn service. The heavens opened with clear blue skies above and cool breeze from the sea unfurling the PNG, Bougainville and NSW flags to show their cacophony of colours flapping high on flagstaff.

The Bougainville Parliament devoted today’s 13th AROB Day celebrations to the Youth of Bougainville with students from St Mary’s Asitavi Secondary, St Joseph’s College Mabiri, Bishop Wade Secondary and Hutjena Secondary, invited to attend.

Our other main guests was a parliamentary delegation from the NSW State Parliament.

Our theme 2018: Children and Youth represent continuity and future of Bougainville.”

Simon Pentanu Speaker

As another Bougainville Day arrived and passed us by we continue to contemplate, celebrate and share the belief, hope and faith that with the right efforts and proper use of resources Bougainville will continue be a resilient society among its Melanesian brothers in the country and in the Pacific Islands.

What are Bougainville’s greatest resources?

Not everyone will agree but I believe they are our environment, our cultures and our people.

When we think about how to transform Bougainville into a developing, progressive region in the modern world, it’s important we do so by harnessing and protecting these resources.

Our environment, cultures and people are the things that have sustained us for countless generations past – and they can continue to do so today and into the future if we are smart.

Keeping our natural environment healthy while transforming Bougainville into a modern, progressive region is something the ABG can achieve only in close consultation with communities – the land owners and culture custodians.

Wherever we look around the world, there are lessons we can learn. Some communities and their environments have become victims of progress, not partners in development.

Think about the Melanesian people of West Papua. In the past 40 years vast quantities of their gold, copper, timber, palm oil and other resources have been mined, chopped down, extracted and exported, but few impartial observers would say this has been to the benefit of West Papua’s environment, cultures and people.

Of course, the vast majority of the resource extraction that has happened in West Papua has been undertaken with little or zero community consultation.

We have the opportunity to do things differently. To this end Bougainville’s mining legislation and policies address this. Let us hope it works in practice so that all parties involved in this industry and any such investment which harnesses resources are equal opportunity benefactors.

When we consider the various options open to us, I believe a CGP (community government partnership) is a more sustainable choice than a PPP (public private partnership). PPP have not really worked to any great success anywhere because there is still a dependence and expectation syndrome on the public purse of governments.

Free enterprise in our community oriented existence must involve initiatives and better participation by women at sustainable levels where they haven proven themselves in local enterprises.

CGP has the community as its starting point. CGP is a partnership that regards and protects the environment as enduring capital for sustainable humanitarian development.

A PPP is fine if it regards resource owners in communities as equal partners. But too often PPPs see resources merely as disposable commodities and consumables in a profit-oriented business model.

That way of thinking ends up depleting our strongest long-term assets for short-term gains that are here one year and gone the next.

Bougainville’s greatest resources – our environment, our cultures and our people – deserve so much better than that.

We can learn from the lessons from the past – some of which have been the most profound insofar as they have affected Bougainville more than any other society in Melanesia, and the whole of the Pacific for that matter.

Bougainville News and the 2019 Referendum : Top 5 News Stories this week as Bougainville has a date with destiny : Download the Bougainville Strategic Plan 2018-2022

Top 5 Bougainville News articles this week

1.The Papua New Guinea government is not doing enough to support Bougainville as it prepares for a referendum on possible independence

2. Issues with the shareholding in Bougainville Copper Ltd are still causing frustrations for the Bougainville Government.

3.Meeting with PNG Prime Minister in Arawa on June 14 is expected to also consider the PNG government’s failure to meet its earlier commitment to pay 20 million kina to Bougainville to help the Referendum Commission prepare for the vote on possible independence

4.The PNG National Research Institute (PNG NRI) will be hosting a National Conference from the 5th to the 7th of June 2018 at the Stanley Hotel in Port Moresby on the Bougainville Referendum.

The Conference theme is: “IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PEACE AGREEMENT AND IMPLICATIONS FOR THE REFERENDUM”.

5.Bougainville Strategic Pan 2018-2022

Bougainville Strategic Plan 2018 2022

The Vision reflects the aspirations of the Bougainville
people to create a prosperous and strong region. It has
been developed from community consultation, and
captures the aspirations of people to drive change, to
improve prosperity, to support peace and stability and to
plan for a better future.
A united, safe, peaceful, healthy, educated,
prosperous and resilient Bougainville, that
promotes respect, trust, our Christian and
cultural values, and recognises the identity and
rights of our people.

Part 1 : The Papua New Guinea government is not doing enough to support Bougainville as it prepares for a referendum on possible independence, a PNG MP says.

Last week, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told parliament the vote was not simply about independence but embraced a number of factors.

He also said maintaining the country’s unity was all important.

But the regional MP for Bougainville, Joe Lera, said as the province prepared for the vote in June next year, the PNG government had not been honouring its commitments under the Peace Agreement.

“They have done a lot on the development side of things, like restored some big infrastructure, like airports, power and all these things, roads, but on the political side the province has not been getting the level of support that they should be giving according to the Peace Agreement.”

The autonomous region of Bougainville is to hold a vote on possible independence from PNG next year – a step that marks the culmination of a 20 year peace process.

Mr O’Neill told parliament former leaders would not want the country divided up, saying he would not want to let Bougainville go.

He spoke of the need for unity and stability but Mr Lera, said the Peace Agreement was about enhancing peace and did not talk about unity.

“The bottom line is the issue of independence is part of the Peace Agreement. So, for the prime minister to base his comments on unity, the unity is not in the Peace Agreement. But I understand where he is coming from because he doesn’t want the country to break up,” he said.

Part 2 : Two years ago multinational Rio Tinto, which was the majority owner of BCL, ditched its commitments and gave its shares to the Papua New Government and the landowners of Bougainville.

The autonomous Bougainville Government deemed the landowners shares go to it, giving it 36.4 percent of the company, according to the BCL website.

But at a BCL board meeting last month the ABG was not permitted to vote in accordance with its shareholding.

An ABG cabinet minister, Albert Punghau, says the share transfer from the PNG government has apparently not been completed.

“The Prime Minister he said he would be giving it back to the Panguna landowners, through the ABG,” said Mr Panghau.

“That has not been done as yet so that issues needs to be rectified and at the JSB [meeting later this month between both governments] so that we can finally put the matter to rest.”

The meeting in Arawa on June 14 is expected to also consider the PNG government’s failure to meet its earlier commitment to pay 20 million kina to Bougainville to help the Referendum Commission prepare for the vote on possible independence.

The vote is scheduled for June 15, 2019.

PNG is also yet to appoint two officials to join two Bougainville officials and former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern, who is to head the body.

Part 3 : Prime Minister Hon Peter O’Neill in responding to South Bougainville MP Timothy Masiu, regarding the issue that government officials should regularly visit the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. O’Neill says that he will go to Bougainville.

PM O’Neill stressed that he will be in Arawa come June 14, that the government is committed to Bougainville and would honour every word in the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

O’Neill said that the peace agreement will go according to the Papua New Guinea Constitution, we will not detour, O’Neill also said that he is not afraid to visit Bougainville and welcomes views and is ready to listen.

We should not divide our country but stand as one, founders like, President John Momis, Sir Michael Somare, Sir Julius Chan did not want a division but to be united as one, other issues should not be an obstacle to the peace agreements.

Part 4 : The PNG National Research Institute (PNG NRI) will be hosting a National Conference from the 5th to the 7th of June 2018 at the Stanley Hotel in Port Moresby on the Bougainville Referendum.

The Conference theme is: “IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PEACE AGREEMENT AND IMPLICATIONS FOR THE REFERENDUM”.

The three days conference will focus on key issues relating to the implications for the Referendum. The conference will feature participants from the Government of Papua New Guinea, Autonomous Bougainville Government, Development Partners, Heads of Missions in PNG, Churches, Private Entities, interested individuals and the Independent Research Experts.

Download here

Opportunities will be provided for researchers, officials, and participants to share their views, respond to questions, and explore additional issues that may deserve detailed consideration in the preparation for the referendum.

Attendance by registration only: referendum.research@pngnri.org or call mobile number 72198306.

The proceedings of this conference will be broadcast by the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC). Some of the sessions will be live and other sessions recorded and played through NBC Bougainville and all provincial stations.

5.Bougainville Strategic Pan 2018-2022

 

Download here Bougainville Strategic Plan 2018 2022

An awareness of the Bougainville Strategic Development 2018- 2022

THE VISION

The Vision reflects the aspirations of the Bougainville
people to create a prosperous and strong region. It has
been developed from community consultation, and
captures the aspirations of people to drive change, to
improve prosperity, to support peace and stability and to
plan for a better future.
A united, safe, peaceful, healthy, educated,
prosperous and resilient Bougainville, that
promotes respect, trust, our Christian and
cultural values, and recognises the identity and
rights of our people.

United
While the ABG will always have diversity and
differences among ourselves as individuals, families and
communities we are united in our desire for a strong
Bougainville. Bougainvilleans must unite to implement
the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the Referendum
peacefully and let it be a process of integrity.
Safe and peaceful
We want Bougainville to be free of weapons and
lawlessness. Women, children and men must be able to
move around Bougainville without the fear of violence.

Healthy
Good health is essential for a good quality of life. The
people of Bougainville deserve access to quality health
care, nutritious food, clean drinking water and good
sanitation.

Educated
Education and training are the keys to improving the life
opportunities of our people and enabling them to reach
their full potential. They are also vital to Bougainville’s
economic development and growth. Our vision is that all
Bougainville children should attend school. Every adult
has the right to be given the opportunity to read, write
and learn a trade.

Resilient
We want to be self-reliant as families, communities and
as a government. We want to be able to use what we
have to meet our needs.

Prosperous
We want to see our people advance in all aspects of
life through having enough income to participate in our
society with dignity. It is our way for privileged persons
to voluntarily forego benefits to enable those who are
less privileged to have a little more.
Christian and cultural values
We are a Christian people and live by the values of
Christianity and our traditional culture which was
developed over thousands of years. We will respect and
preserve our culture.

Identity
We are Bougainvilleans. Our identity must be
incorporated into every aspect of the political, economic
and religious institutions and how they interact with
each other as individuals and communities. Development
must take place through Bougainvillean Ways. We
will seek to promote our traditional ways such as
participation, consultation and seeking consensus in how
we go about the business of government.

Rights
Respecting human dignity and life, and living according
to our moral, spiritual and cultural values will enable us
to be a free people who respect each others right to live
peacefully in Bougainville.

Bougainville Environment News Alert : Rusty wrecks and major oil spill threaten Island life ,economy and environment

 

” If those responsible took notice and took heed Kieta Harbour wouldn’t be in this situation and we wouldn’t be talking about the oil spill now.

What has happened is criminal. I think it is more than criminal because even if the people responsible are arraigned and put behind bars it may not rid the Harbour of the oil very well.

ABG must formally request and assign environmental experts in oil spills to carry out an immediate survey and assessment of the spill. They can then either confirm the worst fears of the Pokpok Islanders and other coastal villages regarding the extent of the oil spill or put people at rest that the problem can be arrested and alleviated at least.”

Simon Pentanu

I am writing this with a lot of hurt and annoyance. My people’s and my worst fear is now real. The oil spill is real. It is not in Alaska or the Gulf of Mexico or in the Middle East. It is at home. The waters of the Harbour come right ashore along the village beachfront where children swim and play everyday.

Kieta Harbour is one of the most pristine, picturesque, much photographed and captivating harbours anywhere; anywhere in the Pacific Region, anywhere in the world.

The Harbour is not big in comparison to other beautiful harbours I have seen in my travels around the world. But I have always thought to myself it is a big enough Harbour for the size of Bougainville Island. Every harbour in the world has its captivating features. Kieta Harbour has hers.

I have no doubt captains and sailors of every ship, schooner, yacht, and sloop – even the penische the Germans may have used around here pre WW1 – that have come here for the first time, enter with a breathtaking welcome by the contrasting colours of the pristine blue waters and the rainforest green on all sides of the Harbour.

Because the Harbour is also a shape of a water-filled crater the oil spill is, potentially, going to have a devastating effect. The Harbour is roughly encircled at both entrances with the snout and tail of Pokpok Island almost meeting the mainland at both entrances.

It is almost like a large pond. This means any oil spill in the Harbour will get trapped in the heart of the Harbour, and spread along the coast of Pokpok and the mainland from Tubiana and all along Happy Valley and out.

The principle signatory to the business arrangement and agreement that brought the ill-fated ships into Kieta is the local member for North Nasioi and Minister for Primary Industry Hon Nicholas Daku MHR. This is his second term both as a member of BHOR and as Minister in ABG. So he is someone that has matured into Bougainville politics and fortunate enough to have a bite at the same cherry as far as ministerial portfolios is concerned. Yet, during all this time he has been conspicuous by his overt absence and muted silence.

The other signatory is an officer in the ABG Commerce division Raymond Moworu.

As a matter of fact and record this is an ABG project, a project quickly cooked up and hushed up by the Minister on the eve of 2015 ABG election. Even if the Minister and the officer signed the papers blindfolded it does not exonerate them or make their responsibility – or culpability – any less because they were acting for and on behalf of ABG in promoting the project. When all is said and events come to pass the buck stops with the Minister. It is called ministerial responsibility.

I’m very annoyed because I have personally mentioned the impending disaster to the Hon Minister Daku more than once verbally since 2016-17. I started doing this after I went around by boat to the Kieta government wharf where the ships had been berthed for some time. I first took photographs of the boats in March 2016 because I noticed they were not sailing anymore. It looked very obvious to me then the boats were fatigued and were rusting away into disrepair and wreck. I even posted the photographs with a warning on my FB Timeline observing that there were obvious signs of impending disaster and that the authorities must do something about removing the ships.

If those responsible took notice and took heed Kieta Harbour wouldn’t be in this situation and we wouldn’t be talking about the oil spill now.

 

It is futile and waste of time calling for a commission of enquiry especially when the Minister and ABG should have acted to prevent this after they were warned and could see the impending disaster was obvious out there staring into their face in broad daylight.

The Minister has been AWOL and very hard to contact when all this has been going on. With all due respect he should resign. If he does not he should be decommissioned and relieved of ministerial responsibilities and someone else that is prepared to work and is serious about ministerial responsibility appointed to take charge. Party politics, including party allegiances, should not get in the way of such a decision. IF it doesn’t happen we might as well throw the towel in because otherwise we are complicit in a style of governance that isn’t going to deliver Bougainville where it wants to go.

North Nasioi constituency also has the option to pursue the member through the recall provision in the constitution and evict him from Parliament.

When I saw myself the ships were let off afloat from berth at the Kieta wharf the least I could do is ask someone – anyone – to help after contacting NMSA whose officers to their credit immediately turned up in Buka. Before their arrival I was very heartened that the member for Selau and Chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Referendum agreed and was, also of his own volition, so ready and willing to travel to Kieta with two of my senior parliamentary staff I asked to be at NMSA’s disposal on the visit to Kieta.

The Member for Selau knows Kieta well and leaders from Kieta well. In Parliament he and Hon Minister Daku are sat next to each other. Pokpok has a historical link with Selau through Chief Keroro. Growing up in the mid 50’s I saw Chief Keroro arrive in his penische (dinghy) and would beach it in the village beachfront while he would spend time to visit and talk to our Chief at the time. These were times when Chiefs in North, Central and south Bougainville knew of each other.

The other day I posted a piece on my FB Timeline with an old photo of Pokpok Island and village looking across from Kieta in a moving speed boat in 1989. I wrote about how the Islanders are resilient and generally how the folk in the communities around Bougainville are resilient in times of difficulties, disasters and other adversities. I was deliberate in the timing of that posting as I felt a disquiet anticipation that it was just a matter of time before one of the hapless ships would sink.

This oil spill is something terribly alarming. Our Disaster office does not have the capacity to attend to it. It pains my heart to think how my people will be affected. I’m traveling away abroad on medical leave for the coming two weeks and even more pained not knowing the extent of the oil spill and its resultant effect on the Islanders and their livelihood from the sea they depend on in so many ways.

Mr Ho the ships owner must be found. His second vessel is still afloat but has no anchor to keep it anchored safely anywhere.

It is time for ABG to ask for help from GoPNG and from outside to assess and contain the spill.

 

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 Education News : #Bougainville Parliament Peace Ambassador Outreach Programs to Schools, 2017

”  No one can create a peaceful society alone. Peace-building must be a collective endeavour. It is a process that needs input from all sectors of our community and – essentially – input from all ages.

Our youths make up more than half the population of Bougainville. Yet their dreams and aspirations can be easily dismissed when we as policy designers and decision-makers pay scant attention or lose sight of this. 

I would like to see a movement of young people across Bougainville, united as change makers under one banner, expressing their hopes and desires in innocent voices promoting peace, unity and security. In schools this movement could be facilitated by teachers, out of school by community leaders, and in workplaces by role models. “

Simon Pentanu Speaker of the House AROB see in full Part 1 Below

See all past Bougainville News Education News Articles past 3 years HERE  

 

 ” Bishop Wade Tarlena Technical Secondary School in 2017 has a student population of  960 students. It is a co-educational, mostly boarding, school. The School’s motto is “Tur Warto”. In the local venacular of Selau constituency where the School is located the motto means “stand firm”. 

It is a motto everyone of us should embrace, together with a resolve to make a firm stand to ensure we put our emerging generation first, and up front, so they get and make the best of their opportunity through all stages of their education. 

Simon Pentanu Speaker of the House AROB see in full Part 2 Below

Have your say added by Bougainville News FYI

 “The Autonomous Bougainville Government through the Minister for Education has requested an Independent Review of the current education system in Bougainville.

The purpose of this review is to examine the National Education System (NES) with a view to developing an appropriate education system that addresses the aspirations and values of the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

As part of these consultations, the Minister for Education also welcomes views and recommendations from the public. These views will be around the issues of: ‘What do you think of the current education system? What would you like the education system in Bougainville to be like? “

See full Autonomous Bougainville Government  Minister for Education Press Release Part 5 Below

Part 1 St. Mary’s Asitavi Secondary School 31|07/17

But creating a peaceful future isn’t just a job we can leave to teachers, community leaders, role models and future generations. Everyone has a responsibility to get involved. We must all promote peace and justice and counter violence and apathy by reaching out to the young people around us. This is a time of their lives when they may be most vulnerable, but it is also in many ways when they are at their prime.

As leaders – and as parents – we must make more than half the effort, expend more than half the energy and resources and be attracted more than half the time to the matters and concerns of our youth.

In every way and in every sense,  the youths are the future of Bougainville.

Part 2 Bishop Wade Tarlena Technical Secondary School in 2017

 

Bishop Wade Tarlena Technical Secondary School in 2017 has a student population of  960 students. It is a co-educational, mostly boarding, school. The School’s motto is “Tur Warto”. In the local venacular of Selau constituency where the School is located the motto means “stand firm”. 

It is a motto everyone of us should embrace, together with a resolve to make a firm stand to ensure we put our emerging generation first, and up front, so they get and make the best of their opportunity through all stages of their education. 

The BHOR Speaker’s peace ambassador outreach to schools so far convinces me, and my parliamentary service staff, how making small changes in our everyday routines like spending time connecting with students will inspire our youth population in schools. It will make them try harder and become more productive learners. 

Sharing our own lifetime experiences will reveal how our messages of inspiration and timeless wisdom can transform the way our young people think about themselves and about the future of Bougainville.

The youth – or emerging generation for want of a better term – comprise more than half of our Bougainville population. They need more than half of our attention from parents to leaders to the ABG, right up to our Parliament. Teachers are doing their job.

In the schools visited so far, listening to their quiet but thought-filled voices in the school halls during Q&A sessions is inspiring. They are our new emerging generation. Let us not make the same mistakes that might consign them to the ranks of a lost generation. 

As leaders we should make ourselves accessible to schools more, not just at the beginning of the school opening year and during graduation days.

The BHOR Speaker’s outreach to high schools and secondary schools is a real issue project. I almost feel like saying, our emerging generation should cause us to sway in our strategies to respond much better so we can do a better job for Bougainville. 

We must do it from utter conviction that it is the right thing to do. After all they are the future hope for Bougainville.

 Part 3  : Emerging generation at Marist Melanesia celebrations, Suhin, Buka

International Youth Day. Everyday is a youth day to keep reminding us to put our children and emerging generation first, to remind us they can’t wait, to remind us we were once children given opportunities to turn challenges into personal successes. 

 Part 4 Attending end of National Book Week handing out books at elementary and primary school recently

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Part 5 : PRESS RELEASE: INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF EDUCTION IN BOUGAINVILLE

Thursday 24th August 2017

The Autonomous Bougainville Government through the Minister for Education has requested an Independent Review of the current education system in Bougainville.

The purpose of this review is to examine the National Education System (NES) with a view to developing an appropriate education system that addresses the aspirations and values of the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

“This independent review is important to allow us to critically look at the current education system and to look at how best we can improve and further establish an effective education system for Bougainville,” said the Minister for Education Honorable Thomas Pata’aku.

This review will be conducted by an independent Education Review Team.

The Education Review Team consists of Dr Naihuwo Ahai, Mr. Luke Taitai, Dr. Apelis Eliakim, Mr. Damien Rapese, Dr. Dinah Ope, Mr. Lukis Romaso, Pro. David Kavamur, Dr. Simon Kenehe and Ms Tracey Laupu from various sections within the National Department of Education.

The team will be conducting consultations in Bougainville from the 21st to the 25th of August 2017.

This review will also look into other functions of education such as the Teacher Education, Department of Education, Teaching Service Commission and Inspections and Guidance with the aim of developing an appropriate “Philosophy of Education” for Bougainville.

As part of these consultations, the Minister for Education also welcomes views and recommendations from the public. These views will be around the issues of: ‘What do you think of the current education system? What would you like the education system in Bougainville to be like?

The public can leave their views with the First Secretary of the Education Minister Lorenzo Hozia. He can be contacted on phone number 71371790 or emailmailto:Lorenzo.hozia@gmail.com.

 

 

Bougainville News : For a positive future Bougainville should be paddling in the same direction

 ” When we grow up in traditional societies in communal villages, the values and traditions that we grow up in play a profound part in our working lives in the modern world.

To put it another way, where and how we start out early in life will often determine where we end up.

Most of all we must demand they must work together for the common good of the People. I will certainly be doing my part in this endeavour which has eluded us in the past.

What so often gets in the way to appeals for the common good is the pursuit of personal agendas.

When everyone puts in the same effort and moves together – like in the canoe, making sure their paddles are in the water pulling in the same direction with the same purpose – it is easier to reach your destination. Everyone appreciates each other’s efforts. Everyone benefits from each other’s efforts. “

Simon Pentanu Speaker of the House Bougainville

Work and Fun rooted in childhood memories .I am a speaker. That’s my job in Bougainville’s challenging and interesting Journey at the moment. Speakers do not speak much, unless it is necessary or they are asked to do so.

This is only part of the story. The corresponding part is, when we grow up in traditional societies in communal villages, the values and traditions that we grow up in play a profound part in our working lives in the modern world. To put it another way, where and how we start out early in life will often determine where we end up.

This is true of many Bougainvilleans/PNGns that have ventured out and succeeded in private, public and corporate life but who are still deeply rooted in their traditional society that played a significant part in the formative years of their upbringing.

And so, speaking for myself, out of the House I am also an amateur photographer who sees life and value in everything that crosses my path. I talk to and photograph objects and subjects in the hills, on the beaches and around the waters mostly, but not only, where I grew up.

The photo here is a sand spit on one of many outer reefs I used to paddle out to as a boy with my folk to dive, spear fish, harvest seaweeds and gather shells, crustaceans and molluscs.

Children still do this today. But instead of paddling by canoes they are whisked out there by motor boats. And rather than eating and sharing what they catch and collect, as we used to, most of their catches, gatherings and findings from the reefs are sold for cash at the fish market.

We would go out once, twice, or occasionally several times a week. Paddling the distances on the open sea was hard work and back-breaking during stormy weather. But looking back, I would do it all over again.

Today they can motor out as often as they like, often twice to thrice on the same day if the fish are biting or if the price of sea slugs is good. Weather is not a worry with fibreglass motor boats, as it is when you’re in a wooden canoe with paddles.

These comments and comparisons are not necessarily about the hard times of the past or the conveniences of modern times that we take for granted.

I am more interested in making a point about living, enjoying and appreciating the things and people we engage with every day. And not doing it to the detriment of the natural world we all rely on to sustain us.

The pressures of everything from population growth to the cash economy to seeking elected office to poor eating habits are taking their toll on our species.

But rarely do we stop to think about the pressures we compound upon the planet – from wreaking human havoc on land and sea to depleting finite resources.

We must do a much better job of looking after the world that is the source of our life. And we must recognise that natural resources like the forests, minerals and productive soil – even clean air and water – are finite.

Let us be responsible and be light on the planet. It is a beautiful living thing that deserves our care. It supports all species, most of all humankind. Yet we pose the most perilous threat to the planet that supports us and our livelihood.

When the 2017 national election counting is finally over and we know who our four MPs are, we must demand of them, together with our MHRs, to be true leaders by conserving these essential natural values so we and our children and grandchildren can enjoy them too.

Most of all we must demand they must work together for the common good of the People. I will certainly be doing my part in this endeavour which has eluded us in the past.

What so often gets in the way to appeals for the common good is the pursuit of personal agendas.

When everyone puts in the same effort and moves together – like in the canoe, making sure their paddles are in the water pulling in the same direction with the same purpose – it is easier to reach your destination. Everyone appreciates each other’s efforts. Everyone benefits from each other’s efforts.

In a motorised boat everyone sits down and they get to the fishing destination with little effort. There is no paddling, no exertion, no communal effort. The engine, fuel and propeller zips you out there. And everyone does their own thing. It’s the competitive world of cash economy. It’s a long way from the days of sharing and living for each other in a unified way where the family unit, the extended family and clan are important.

Happy Life

#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 News feature 1 of 2 : Panguna in hindsight – yes , hindsight is a wonderful thing

 

 ” Every picture tells a story. Every story a picture tells may not be a perfect story but, as another saying goes, there’s more to the picture than meets the eye. 

There is a certain poignancy about this picture – and many other images connected with the multitude of matters surrounding Panguna. 

Panguna is not merely a history of mining, minerals, money, maiming and the nastiness of the conflict. It is not only a story of lost lives, lost land and lost opportunities. 

This photograph shows a woman, leading her male counterparts in the early days of the dispute involving one group of Panguna landowners voicing, in a very public way, early warnings of what might follow.”

Article by Simon Pentanu  

Panguna is a story of many individuals and groups; of men, women and children of the forest, the valleys, the ravines, the hills and mountains, the rivers and creeks and sacred sites – all of which people called home, before mining arrived. 

Perpetua Serero and Francis Ona both passed away relatively young. The effervescent Damien Dameng – the one with reading glasses studying his notes in this photo – lost his life under dubious circumstances only in recent times. 

Francis Bitanuma with the white cap and overgrown beard in this photo, is still around, raising his voice and picking and choosing his fights but with fewer and fewer local allies in tow.

Perpetua Serero had remarkable poise and presence. Had her voice as Chairlady of a splinter Panguna Landowners Association (PLOA) been heeded when she spoke (either with or without the aid of a hand-held loud hailer), some of the fiasco and hurt amongst the landowners could well have been mitigated, if not largely avoided.

Instead, the very early feuds over Panguna over benefits accruing from the land under various leases to BCL were between landowners themselves. Only a dishonest landowner would deny this was the case.

Disputes and differences over land sharing, land use and land tenure preceded the arrival of mining in Panguna. But these were localized and tended to be confined within households, extended families and clans. Agreements were brokered to resolve issues or at least keep them to manageable levels. There were ways for everyone to move on, living and communally sharing the land, rivers, creeks, the environment and everything that more or less made life worth living and dying for. 

Differences and feuds over the benefits accruing from the mine such as RMTL (Road Mining Tailings Lease) payments and other payments added fuel to existing disputes between clans, families and relatives. Some of the disputes became vexatious with the advent of mining.

Mining catapulted Panguna women like Perpetua Serero, Cecilia Gemel and others to the forefront as they took on much more active and pronounced roles as mothers of the land in a society that is largely matrilineal. 

This photograph shows a woman, leading her male counterparts in the early days of the dispute involving one group of Panguna landowners voicing, in a very public way, early warnings of what might follow.

The significance of her message was either lost to or not taken seriously by most leaders from central Bougainville, BCL, PLOA and relevant authorities in the national Government at the time.  

That men are  on the periphery of the photo – in stark contrast to the lead role  being played by Serero at the front – wasn’t just symbolic. It was real. Her position at the front, with the support of  men such as Francis Bitanuma, Francis Ona, Damien Dameng and others was neither incidental, coincidental nor accidental. Her role at the forefront of this dispute over land was natural and logical, because in most of Bougainville it is through the women that land is inherited and passed down the generations. 

That more and more landowners became willing to front up in crowds such as this, emboldened by the willing maternal leadership of someone who stood up to carry the mantle of those that bore grievances against their own PLOA, led by men. Serero, and the landowners who stood with her, made a brave and significant statement. 

As the differences grew, the younger Panguna generation – alongside women like Serero and Gemel and the emerging, vociferous Francis Ona – turned their attention to Rio and BCL.

Increasingly they saw BCL and the old PLOA as having all the control and influence over what happened in special mining lease (SML) area. The injustice felt in not having much say weighed heavily and became a rallying point as captured in this photo.

All of us observing, reading and writing about the upheavals over Panguna, the mounting dissatisfaction, the criticism of the Bougainville Copper Agreement (BCA) and the rebellious response that shut down the giant mining operations, may find some satisfaction in the common truism that hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The BCA was a document familiar mostly to lawyers, investors and bankers and, of course, to the mining fraternity. It was not until well after the first power pylons fell, after deployment of the security forces and after the mine was closed that interest increase in reading the fine print of the BCA. Coming, as they did, from a paperless village life, many landowners and Bougainvilleans in the community at large found little compulsion to read, let alone understand and appreciate legal agreements.

When the going was good everything was hunky dory. The landowners were getting their lease payments, social inconvenience compensations, royalties etc. The provincial government was doing well and was  financially better placed than others in the country. Employees couldn’t really complain about the job opportunities, good salaries and wages.

The majority of the landowners the BCA was purported to serve turned against it, despised and rebelled against it. 

It is a story new generation of Panguna landowners is born into. It is not a story restricted to past or the future. Rather, it is a story that evokes timeless lessons and has some relevance for all of us forever throughout our lifetime.

It is true, hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I have heard a lot about Perpetua  

Serero. I never met her. I will never meet her in person because she has passed on. 

She served her calling with tremendous support from men and women of the land. She had faith in customs and traditions that gave equal opportunities to women. These customs and traditions gave her the mantle and legitimacy to lead protests against the male dominated RMTL executives in the Panguna Landowners Association. 

She faced an awful amount of pressure because of intense feuding over control of PLOA and RMTL in Panguna. She took the baton and ran her lap hoping to influence and change some of the male dominated status quo in the old PLOA.

The Australian Liberal and Labor colonial governments clearly saw what was going on and regarded Panguna mine as the Achilles heel of a future, independent PNG. 

 Men like Ona, Bitanuma, Dameng and women like Serero, Gemel and others gradually realised that unless they stood up and were counted, taking a stand against the inequities they saw, they would be swamped and inundated by the complacency that was prevalent, accepted, and that supported a Panguna that seemed all normal driven by profits and benefits of mining. 

There are lessons Rio and BCL learnt out of the land dispute. Some of these lessons are harsh. Some even the best legal agreements cannot address, avert or fix, for they are based in customs and culture, not common law. 

Panguna may be most uncommon dispute or problem of its time that a foreign mining company has had to face and deal with. Its repercussions and reverberations spread through Bougainville and indeed around the world very quickly.

It has unearthed lessons that go well beyond issues normally associated with mining.

The Bel Kol approach initiated by the landowners shows traditional societies also have ways, means and mechanisms by which to resolve seemingly intractable disputes. These ways are local, restorative and win-win in their approach, not adversarial, competitive and foreign.

Some of the continuing pain, ill effects and trauma over lost land and lost dignity over Panguna are more destabilizing and debilitating than the crisis and conflict that landowners and many other Bougainvilleans endured.  

Everyone that has lived through the crisis on the Island or has been affected one way or another, directly or indirectly, has had to deal with the horrors of crisis, war and conflict. Rebuilding lives, normalcy and returning to a resilient society is a longer journey that will take many generations over many lifetimes.

Little wonder people are prepared to protect their rights and defend the land with their lives. It is true, isn’t it, that one cannot fully understand and appreciate peace and freedom unless you either lose it or you have been suppressed.

I hope looking back we can pass on to the next generation the genuine benefits of hindsight.

 

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 :

Bougainville-Referendum-Communications-Strategy

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.