Bougainville News : Autonomous Bougainville Government to improve the efficiency, transparency and accountability

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Planning is the cornerstone of good governance, by undertaking planning we are able to identify priorities, determine actions and importantly create a benchmark through which we can measure progress,”

This is an opportunity to determine our own fate as Bougainville and I ask that all public servants participate and contribute, it must be a collective approach if we are to succeed,”

Chief Secretary to the ABG Joseph Nobetau

The Autonomous Bougainville Government is currently embarking on measures to improve the efficiency, transparency and accountability of the Bougainville Public Service.

Chief Secretary to the ABG Joseph Nobetau said that 2017 would be a period of consolidation and growth where the BPS will position itself to respond to the ever increasing demands of the Government in a way the is efficient and transparent.

Mr Nobetau noted the need in 2017 to clearly document both corporate and strategic goals and indicated that the process will operate through two complementary and concurrent processes – Corporate and Strategic Planning.

He further emphasised that the corporate planning process must be undertaken at an agency level where each ABG department determines their key priorities for the year ahead.

This calls for ABG department to undertake a comprehensive analysis of key strengths and weaknesses along with opportunities and potential threats and allows for all departmental heads to determine how best to move forward with their corporate initiatives that will deliver on the expectations of the ABG.

Mr Nobetau has already informed all departmental heads to identify the top four priorities of their departments.

“This is the first part of the planning process, once this has occurred I will ask that the departmental heads convene planning workshops to map out a plan for the year ahead,” he said.

The Office of the Chief Secretary to the ABG will in turn coordinate the reporting of the progress that will be given to the Government and key stakeholders.

Mr Nobetau also revealed that his office will be leading the strategic planning process that will complement the corporate planning work of the government departments.

Mr Nobetau further stated that this will extend beyond 2017 and will ensure that there is a long term vision for the ABG public service in the years ahead that allows it to develop and grow the capacity needed to deliver on the expectations of the ABG.

 

Bougainville Peace Building News : Autonomous Bougainville Government Parliamentarians return from peace building training in Fiji

ABG

“The training was a major success and an eye opener for Members of the Bougainville. Most of us in Bougainville are not aware of the high level of perception that the international community especially in UN circles has of the Bougainville Peace Process.

It was a major learning experience about how successful our peace process on Bougainville has been despite some setbacks. We came out of the training proud that Bougainville can be a model for peace-building on the world stage and it has encouraged us to work harder with our people to build peace”

David Braun, ABG Member for Tinputz.

Members of the Bougainville House of Representatives including the Regional Member for Bougainville and Minister for Bougainville Affairs Hon. Joe Lera, and the Clerk of the Bougainville House of Representatives Mr. Robert Tapi, recently returned from a five-day training organized by the United Nations Development Programme on Parliament and Peacebuilding. The training was held from 20-24 June 2016.

Training focused on the role of Parliament in the process of national peacebuilding. It covered a range of issues, including the oversight functions of the Parliament, social accountability, inclusion of civil society and citizens as tools for effective peacebuilding approaches to gender mainstreaming and more.
During their stay, the Parliamentary team paid a courtesy call on the Speaker of Fijian Parliament Dr. Jiko Fatafehi Luveni, and also met with parliamentary committees including the Law, Justice, and Human Rights and Natural Resources committees.
A Bougainville Parliamentary spokesman representing the team hailed the training programme as a major success. According the spokesman, besides the training on peace, stability and mediation, the team was able to witness the differences in structure of the Fijian Parliament and that of the Bougainville House of Representatives.
This included transparency of the law-making process in the Fijian Parliament, the linkage between the customary and formal government, the effective management of land tenure systems, the growth and development of the tourism sector as a major revenue earner and many other innovative parliamentary insights.
UNDP supported participation of the parliamentarians as part of its wider efforts on peacebuilding in Bougainville. Funded by the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), which provided more than $8 million USD since 2014, it aims to support the peace process in Bougainville and help to create an enabling environment for a credible and inclusive referendum, together with other UN agencies on the ground.

Bougainville Mining News : President Bougainville, Dr. John Momis, lashes out “greedy irresponsibility” of Rio Tinto

bouganville_2009

Rio has advised me that it is free to ignore the damage it caused because its subsidiary (BCL) operated Panguna according to the laws of the 1970s and 1980s. It therefore does not regard itself as bound by the much higher corporate responsibility standards of today. Rio also say that BCL was closed by Bougainvilleans opposed to mining.

‘Bougainville rejects those argument. The corporate responsibility standards that Rio accepts today largely result from what it learned from its Bougainville experience.”

President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Dr. John Momis, lashed out today at what he termed the “greedy irresponsibility” of global mining giant, Rio Tinto. He has requested the Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representatives to call a special meeting of the House in Buka next Wednesday, 13th July

He was discussing Rio’s decision of 30 June to end its majority shareholding in its subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL).

He released his letter of 4 July to the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM) Chair.

See Attached

Momis to ICMM – 4 July 2016

It complains of Rio’s failure to meet the ICCM’s Sustainable Development principles.

President Momis said:

‘Rio Tinto’s predecessor, Conzinc RioTinto Australia (CRA), made immense profits from operating the Panguna mine – so much so that BCL was often described as the “jewel” in the CRA crown. But in operating the mine, it was Bougainville that bore severe environmental and social costs.

‘Environmental damage includes the massive pit, kilometres wide and hundreds of metres deep, never remediated in any way.

It includes the vast areas filled by billions of tons of mine tailings tipped into the Kawerong and Jaba rivers, now lifeless as a result of acid rock leaching. Fish life in the many rivers and creeks running into the two main dead rivers has also been destroyed.

The tailings filled river valleys. The levy ban built to contain the tailings was breached more than ten years ago. Huge swamps have swallowed forest and farm land. Large dumps of chemicals are yet to be cleaned up.

‘Social impacts include the appalling living conditions of the thousands of people involuntarily resettled by the mine.

‘Rio refuses to accept any responsibility for these and the many other negative impacts that were the costs of its vast profits. In their greedy irresponsibility they now propose to walk away from Panguna without further thought about the damage that they caused.

‘ICMM’s website http://www.icmm.com/our-work/sustainable-development-framework claims that by ICMM membership companies such as Tio Tinto commit to “implement and measure their performance against 10 sustainable development principles”. The ICMM says that it conducts “an annual assessment of member performance against their principles”.

‘ICMM Principle 3 commits Rio to “Uphold fundamental human rights and respect cultures, customs and values in dealing with employees and others who are affected by our activities”.

This committs companies to “minimize involuntary resettlement and compensate fairly for adverse effects on the community where they cannot be avoided.”

BCL paid the derisory compensation levels to relocated villages required in the 1970s and 1980s. But not only is it clear that these levels were far too low then, in addition, the relocated villagers suffering has continued and increased dramatically since the 1980s, with no compensation.

And Rio plans to walk away with no thought as to their future suffering, all caused by a mine these people never wanted.

‘ICMM Principle 6 requires Rio to “rehabilitate land disturbed or occupied by operations in accordance with appropriate post-mining land uses’. No rehabilitation has occurred.

‘ICMM principle 10 requires Rio to ‘provide information [to stakeholders] that is timely, accurate and relevant, and to engage with and respond to stakeholders through open consultation processes. Rio has completely failed in these responsibilities. It has not provided any information to Bougainvillean stakeholders about its review or its plans.

‘Rio has advised me that it is free to ignore the damage it caused because its subsidiary (BCL) operated Panguna according to the laws of the 1970s and 1980s. It therefore does not regard itself as bound by the much higher corporate responsibility standards of today. Rio also say that BCL was closed by Bougainvilleans opposed to mining.

‘Bougainville rejects those argument. The corporate responsibility standards that Rio accepts today largely result from what it learned from its Bougainville experience. The war in Bougainville was not about ending mining – it was a cry for mining on just terms, similar to those that are delivered by good standards of corporate responsibility. To ignore today’s standards is hypocrisy.

‘In a situation of low copper prices and the likely high sovereign risk of Bougainville, it’s unlikely that Panguna will reopen for a long time. In those circumstances, Rio must have responsibilities for rehabilitation and other activities similar to those arising in a mine closure situation.’

The President said he had asked the ICMM Chair, Mr. Andrew Michelmore, to investigate Rio’s failure to meet the mining industry standards set as conditions of ICMM membership. ‘I have asked the ICMM to required Rio Tinto to meet those standards. I have called on the ICMM to expel Rio if it fails to adhere to ICMM principles. Rio Tinto’s behaviour towards Bougainville exhibits greed and irresponsibility which the mining industry must reject.’

John L. Momis

President, ARoB

7 July 2016

Breaking Bougainville News: PM Peter O’Neill takes on ministerial responsibilities of Minister for Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Outcomes

Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has today announced a minor cabinet reshuffle that will better position the National Government to take advantage of current and emerging development opportunities.

Ministerial changes announced by the Prime Minister are:
PM Peter O’Neill takes on responsibilities of Minister for Autonomous Region of Bougainville.
Ben Micah-Minister for Petroleum and Energy;
William Duma-Minister for Public Enterprise and State Investments;
Nixon Duban, Minister for Transport and Infrastructure;
Justin Tkatchenko, Minister for Sports and Tourism;
Steven Kama, Minister Assisting Prime Minister on Constitutional Matters.
The Prime Minister said minor changes to Cabinet positions are important in order to maintain administrative flexibility as the global and national economy evolves, and ensure ministerial skills and capabilities are well targeted.

Bougainville Education News :An educated population is key to a strong and progressive Bougainville

 

 

Ed

Bougainville right now needs a lot of educated people to manage and guide the region as we prepare ourselves for referendum.In three years time, the people of Bougainville will be voting for their own political future and it important that people are educated about this issue.It is a must that the human capital resource must be highly educated in order for Bougainville to prosper”

ABG Minister for Community Development, Josephine Getsi

A total of 224 Early Childhood Teachers graduated from a two weeks training workshop at Morou Village in the Baubake Constituency area at the weekend.

The ceremony was witnessed by three ABG Members, the Minister for Community Government, Hon. Jacob Tooke, and Minister for Community Development, Josephine Getsi and Minister Assisting the President, Hon. Robert Tsika.

The three members told the graduation ceremony that the government fully supports the initiative by those wanting to promote education as the number one priority.

They also said their presence at the ceremony is testimony of the government’s commitment to provide education to the whole population of Bougainville.

The emphasis is on providing quality education as against general education.

An educated population is key to a strong and progressive government or country.

The ABG Minister for Community Development, Josephine Getsi says education is the backbone of any country adding that it is through education a person can bring change to the environment.

 You can support Bougainville education thru James Tanis  project http://www.bookgainville.com

Bookgainville Project on Bougainville PNG

Bougainville Referendum News : Bougainville taking steps towards the referendum

 

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“Discontent over the electoral roll among the general public was often expressed in terms of national identity. One community leader stated: ‘If your name is not on the roll, this means you are not Bougainvillean’. This suggests the issue with the roll constitutes much more than a technical problem. In the lead-up to the referendum on independence, amending the electoral roll must be a priority. Unless significant effort is put towards not only improving the quality of the electoral roll but also affirming public faith in its integrity, there could be serious repercussions for the referendum process.”

Kerryn Baker and Thiago Cintra Oppermann (see ANU article Below )

A MEDIA STATEMENT FROM THE OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT

Nisira

Panguna Meekamui Leader declares support to the Referendum Preparations

Mr Moses Pipiro, Commander of the Meekamui Defence Force that has territorial control over the giant Panguna Mine has thrown his weight behind the ABG preparations for conduct of a free and fair referendum on the Bougainville future political status with a choice for separate independence for Bougainville as agreed in the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

He presented to a small delegation of officers from the Department of Referendum, Veterans’ Affairs and Peace, a five member Meekamui Working group that is tasked with producing a Meekamui schedule for awareness, reconciliation and weapons disposal as well as their views on reopening of Panguna Mine.

Mr Pipiro agrees that it is important that Bougainville must be free from fear of guns and that Bougainville needs a massive economic boost to fund its government and people of the choice was in favour of Meekamui aspiration for independent Bougainville. “Meekamui stands in support of the ABG to enable Bougainville fulfil its commitments to the Peace Agreement,” assured Mr Pipiro.

On the whole Central Bougainville is immediately taking steps to ensure their constituencies can be referendum ready. Vice Minister of Referendum, Veterans’ Affairs and Peace and Member for South Nasio, Hon Simon Dasiona as of last week has engaged in consultations with senior Ex Combatant leaders to move towards a post ABG reconciliation for Presidential Candidates from Central Bougainville with the ABG President, Hon Chief John Momis. He firmly believes that Bougainville Ex Combatant leaders must be united with the Political leadership to achieve peace in the referendum process for a powerful outcome.

VICE PRESIDENTS MISSION TO PORT MORESBY

After tasking his Vice Minister, the Ministry and the Department of Referendum, Veterans Affairs and Peace to engage in ground consultations for the preparation of the conduct of the referendum Hon. Patrick Nisira departed for Port Moresby on a similar mission at the National Government level and the International Community.

Hon Nisira’s mission to Port Moresby has four objectives. To establish departmental contacts with political and administrative heads of PNG National Government and agencies that may be relevant in implementing the Bougainville referendum. This will help ABG to gain a better understanding of the conduct of the Bougainville Referendum and the consequent ratification of the relationship with the PNG National Government counterparts to ensure that peace prevails in the post referendum period. In this mission the Vice President will update the relevant PNG National Government partners on the Ministerial and Departmental broad frame work of Bougainville preparations for the conduct of the Bougainville referendum.

Bougainville Peace Agreement is a Joint Creation of the PNG Government and the people of Bougainville therefore we must work hand in hand to implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

The Vice President also stated that in this trip he will establish direct contacts with diplomatic missions in Port Moresby to ensure that the international community receives briefs on the ground situation on Bougainville in terms of preparation.

“My mandate as the Minister is to ensure that Bougainville meets its part of the bargain under the Bougainville Peace Agreement and to help me do that I must know how my counterparts are preparing and also that I must have fair idea of the trend of world politics today. I am confident my ministry and department will deliver on the Bougainville commitments to the Bougainville Peace Agreement, Mr Nisira said.

The Vice President returns to Bougainville over the weekend and will proceed immediately to Central and South Bougainville areas to link to the ground teams there.

Bougainville looks towards the referendum

31 July 2015

Bougainville went to the polls in May 2015 for the third Autonomous Bougainville Government election since the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed in 2001. The election was a significant political milestone for the region, marking the beginning of a five-year window in which a referendum on independence is scheduled to be held. It also saw the first woman member of the House of Representatives to be elected in an open seat, Josephine Getsi of Peit constituency.
Elections were held for the seats in the House of Representatives and for the presidency of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. In the house there are 33 open seats, three seats reserved for women, and three seats reserved for ex-combatants. Each voter has four ballots: for the presidency, for their constituency, and for their regional women’s and ex-combatant representatives. The election used a system of limited preferential voting, in which voters rank their top three preferred candidates on each ballot.Bougainville presents significant logistical challenges when it comes to election administration. While there were some considerable issues, overall the election was relatively peaceful. For the most part, the result was accepted by the Bougainvillean people. Despite delays, both polling and counting were completed within their respective designated two-week periods. The success of the election was due in large part to the community goodwill towards the electoral process within Bougainville.Campaigning kicked off with nominations on 30 March, which included colourful motorcades and some of the largest rallies seen in the campaign. A total of 342 candidates nominated, including 35 women. Only 12 of these women were contesting open seats; the remainder competed for the three seats reserved for women. Nine men, and no women, contested the presidency.Campaigning was mostly peaceful. The presidential race was dominated by the issues of the referendum, good governance and economic development, with mining also significant in certain regions. None of the presidential candidates campaigned for autonomy. Candidates differed as to how forcefully they proposed independence from Papua New Guinea but all argued in its favour. The referendum was thus discussed mostly in terms of candidates representing themselves as the best option to achieve a successful referendum.

In Bougainville, ‘good governance’ has acquired the character of a piety that nobody disowns, but its practice is another matter. Candidates defending their seats faced barrages of (credible and not-so-credible) accusations of corruption. Often the absence of visible delivery of services by a politician was construed as evidence of corruption in itself; yet the delivery of some services was also labelled corrupt by some. According to one such critic, ‘the work of a politician is to pass laws and set policy, not to give schools’ – yet even this critic went on to complain that his approach to a politician for funds had been rebuffed.

The expectation that politicians will personally deliver services, resentment at preferential gifting, and pervasive, politicised rumour of corruption are all facets of an underlying political economy of distribution and its discontents. This is deeply enmeshed at all levels of Bougainvillean society, from the state to the household. It is extremely difficult for politicians and voters to extricate themselves from expectations and obligations to present and receive ‘gifts.’

The pervasiveness of this politics of distribution poses a particular challenge to women. The political economy of gifting is fundamentally gendered and favours men, while women are expected and encouraged to be ‘clean’ candidates. This emphasis on women’s ‘purity’ means that harsh judgement falls on women who act in ways that would be tolerated or even welcomed in the case of men. While some women — including Josephine Getsi and a few others who placed highly — performed exceptionally well, most of the women who contested races against men polled last or second-to-last.

One major issue arising from the election was the quality of the electoral roll. Issues with the roll have also been noted in past elections. But as Bougainville looks toward a referendum by 2020, the extent of these problems in 2015 was of particular concern. Many people were turned away from polling stations because their names did not appear on the final roll, including many who claimed to have voted in previous elections. In all regions, many appeared to have been disenfranchised; at some polling stations, observations showed up to three in ten people being turned away.

Discontent over the electoral roll among the general public was often expressed in terms of national identity. One community leader stated: ‘If your name is not on the roll, this means you are not Bougainvillean’. This suggests the issue with the roll constitutes much more than a technical problem. In the lead-up to the referendum on independence, amending the electoral roll must be a priority. Unless significant effort is put towards not only improving the quality of the electoral roll but also affirming public faith in its integrity, there could be serious repercussions for the referendum process.

Kerryn Baker and Thiago Cintra Oppermann are research fellows in the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, The Australian National University.

Bougainville News : Australia pledges k120 million to Bougainville in 2015

 

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Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Julie Bishop MP, has pledged that her government will provide more than K120 million to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in 2015.

It is expected the funds will be used for projects related to health, education, road infrastructure and social issues.Bishop made the announcement in Arawa on Tuesday 16 December as part of her two day tour of Bougainville.

“Australia comes as your friend,” Ms Bishop said, “I’m so impressed by the commitment and energy shown by the people of Bougainville to peace building.”

“The government of Australia will always be a partner and will support everything that is done for the good of Bougainville and its people.”

 

Bougainville News: Why Bougainville landowners oppose BCL return

Why Bougainville landowners oppose Rio Tinto’s return

State Crime

KRISTIAN LASSLETT | International State Crime Initiative

ONCE more Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) is in the headlines, after the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) passed transitional mining legislation that seemingly continues the momentum towards the re-opening of the Panguna mine.

The legislation has provoked strong condemnation from the landowning communities that will be directly impacted by the mine’s prospective reopening. They fear BCL’s return is now unstoppable.

Their opposition has been given powerful form in the Parakake Resolution, and in the poignant commentaries written by the Nasioi people’s own organic intellectuals, such as Chris Baria.

Bougainville’s President John Momis has dismissed this opposition on Radio Australia; he claims it is being stirred up by certain backdoor mining interests.

While it is hard to know whether a particular individual has or has not signed a MOU, as Momis claims, the vast majority of people in the mine affected areas have no interest whatsoever in these backdoor players.

 

Their opposition is principled and rooted in a history that is yet to receive the public attention it thoroughly deserves, and which if recognised would provide essential context, missing from current debates.

At the bare minimum this history extends back to BCL’s so called ‘alleged’ involvement in PNGDF military operations that were conducted during 1989-90, after the mine was closed by landowning communities through a campaign of industrial sabotage (although this essential history goes further back still, to the mine’s construction and operation, including its seismic impact on land, environment and culture).

This remains an extremely emotive issue on the ground in the mine area, because these military operations were replete with some of the most atrocious war crimes imaginable. Indeed, they were so graphic, and so horrible, it would be insensitive to describe them here – as I have learnt the trauma survivors endure is foreboding and ever-present.

Nevertheless, respected regional commentators have cast doubt over these allegations levelled against BCL. For example the celebrated ANU scholar, Anthony Regan – who was contracted to draft the controversial mining law passed through Bougainville’s parliament last week – noted in 2003, ‘despite some claims to the contrary, there is as yet no credible evidence that BCL took any direct part in the [military] operations against the BRA [Bougainville Revolutionary Army]’.

Regan maintains this position today, stating ‘credible evidence is yet to emerge. Perhaps such evidence will emerge one day, but I’m yet to see it’.

Regan is a lucid and perceptive commentator with a strong devotion to the region, so it is difficult to understand how he, and other regional experts, can maintain this position, when so much compelling evidence is now publicly available, and presented in a range of scholarly publications.

Nevertheless, given the serious doubt regional experts have cast over these allegations, it is perhaps understandable that the media has failed to give them much credence.

In that light it is worthwhile bearing witness, once more, to the robust empirical evidence charting BCL’s past conduct, hyperlinked where possible to the primary sources (it should be emphasised here, because there appears to be confusion, this evidence has primarily emerged from independent fieldwork, and is not in any way reliant on affidavits produced for a US class action against Rio Tinto).

On 26 November 1988, the day after landowner leaders initiated a campaign of industrial sabotage, BCL petitioned the government to deploy Mobile Squad units, to deal with these ‘acts of terrorism’ (BCL’s meeting minutes are available here). This was a high-risk move given the Mobile Squads’ human rights records.

According to one BCL General Manager interviewed in 2006, they were aware of the risks: ‘We knew the riot squads were heavy handed, that was well known in PNG. That’s how they worked. If you threw a rock at them you would get ten rocks thrown back. They were very heavy handed in the way they handled disputes in the Highlands … We knew that the heavy handed thing wouldn’t work if they were there [on Bougainville] long term. It was a case, somebody has to come. They were the only ones that could come, and put a lid on this thing before it got out of hand’.

When Prime Minister Namaliu informed BCL’s Chairman, Don Carruthers, that his government wanted to send a peace delegation to Bougainville – as opposed to active deployment of the Mobile Squads – the Chairman threatened to withdraw Rio Tinto investment from PNG.

In a memorandum to company directors dated 6 December 1988, the Chairman states: ‘The PM’s priority was to “appease” the landowners. I expressed the view that CRA [Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia] would want to review its assessment of PNG as a place to invest. In all, it was an unsatisfactory meeting’. BCL’s Chairman also complains to company directors that the PNG government appears ‘unwilling or unable to assert its authority’ on Bougainville. The memorandum is available here.

In June 1989, following a Cabinet reshuffle, the PNG government declared a state of emergency, which paved the way for a PNGDF offensive to reopen the mine, and rout the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. BCL was informed by PNG’s Minister for State that the PNGDF was prepared to employ ‘brutal firepower’ (see BCL meeting minutes here). The first offensive, operation Nakmai Maimai, began on 3 July 1989. According to evidence provided by BCL’s own executives team from this period, extensive logistic assistance was provided to the armed forces.

One General Manager from the 1989-90 period observed in an interview conducted during 2006: ‘The reality was, “we [PNGDF/RPNGC] can’t do our thing because we haven’t got vehicles”. So we’d give them vehicles. “Ah we haven’t got radios so we can’t communicate”. So we’d give them two way radios. “Ah we can’t support our men over here, we haven’t got enough provisions”. So we’d put them in the mess, we’d feed them in the mess, we’d provide them with accommodation. We did everything they asked of us to make their life more comfortable, and better able to manage through, with transport, communications, provisions, whatever, fuel. You know we gave them everything, because as a far as we saw it we were hoping that they were going to solve the situation, so we could start operating again. So we supported them every way we could’.

This testimony is corroborated by a senior official from PNG’s Prime Minister’s Department also interviewed in 2006: ‘We relied heavily on some of the civilian facilities provided by the company. They did everything, I mean we spent lots and lots of money, to provide backup support services for the operation, but the defence force was not properly equipped at all’. A senior PNGDF officer involved in the operation confirms, ‘the support of the mine was so significant, it augmented where the national government was lacking’.

The above oral testimony coheres with information included in affidavits provided by the former Commander of the PNGDF, Jerry Singirok (see here), in addition to PNGDF intelligence officer, Yauka Aluambo Liria (see here).

Over the course of 1989-90, BCL regularly met with PNGDF commanders and PNG government officials to discuss the counterinsurgency operations. During one meeting which took place on 13 July 1989, BCL’s Managing Director told PNG’s Prime Minister, ‘offensive activities OK and should continue’. He also identified targets to be ‘apprehended’, including the prominent Chief, Damien Dameng who BCL’s Managing Director describes as ‘the charismatic cult leader’ (see meeting minutes here). An example of the strategic discussions frequently held with the PNGDF command can be viewed here.

When BCL’s Chairman, Don Carruthers, was informed a military blockade was to be placed around Bougainville, cutting off all goods and services (this included medical aid), he is alleged by Sir Michael Somare to have said ‘[let’s] starve the bastards out’ (see here) (current Bougainville President John Momis has also made a similar allegation, see here).

A senior BCL manager interviewed in 2006 outlines two central concerns underpinning this alleged support for the blockade, ‘there were two things we were worried about. One was the ability of the militants to get more weapons to increase the level of their militancy. And the second was that there was always these threats that they were going to sell off the mine equipment’.

It is incredible to think in light of this powerful oral testimony and documentary evidence from a range of highly credible sources (i.e. senior BCL managers, PNG government officials, PNGDF officers, BCL internal records), which are detailed in full here, that these accounts have failed to be included in the most recent public debate (although it is very much part of discussions at the village level). Indeed, certain journalists have implied the allegations against BCL are so tenuous, they have reached a point where they can ‘be put to rest’.

Of course at Panguna people need no reminding of BCL’s role, they still remember the hum of BCL trucks laden with PNGDF troops, coming down the road to torch their villages.

Yet in a curious twist Bougainville’s President has often said it is the communities in the mine-affected region who have specifically petitioned his office to have BCL returned as the mine’s preferred operator. The phrase ‘better the devil you know’ has been put on high rotation; sadly those who should know better often quote this phrase as if it is axiomatic at the village level.

It is not. In fact I have never come across a villager in the mine-affected region who uses this phrase in support of BCL’s return, indeed so raw are the scars that even the notional prospect of BCL’s return tends to elicit panic and near universal condemnation. Whoever presented this view to the President (we are yet to find out), was not accurately relaying the beliefs widely held within the mine affected communities.

Compounding the confusion, journalists rarely travel to these villages, relying instead on media releases and political statements. When they do, as the intrepid Antony Loewenstein discovered, a very different narrative emerges, one seared by a great yearning for cultural sovereignty and self-determination, underpinned by a painful history of dispossession and marginalisation.

Indeed, these are not a people who suffer from a ‘lack of understanding’, as certain leaders have claimed (coupled to this, it has also been implied rural communities lack the ‘expertise’ to determine what is in their own best interests). Villagers in the mine-affected area have a breathtakingly nuanced understanding of their past, and they fully recognise the complexity of the conjuncture they are currently faced with.

It must also be said, these people are not dupes being manipulated by foreign activists (which is another condescending allegation circulating in the media); they have witnessed first-hand the destructive consequences of believing grandiose promises delivered by outsiders with ulterior motives, and as a result have an unwavering belief in the strength and vitality of their own wisdom (and quite rightly, too).

So it is time to pause for a moment, and truly listen to the voices of Panguna. It is time to bear witness to their suffering, and to hear their cries for justice. It is time to move beyond the sleek sound-bites supplied by governments and miners, and actually study the primary evidence and actually visit the communities, to allow them to speak for themselves. It is time for BCL and its parent company, Rio Tinto, to acknowledge the past and to atone without strings.

It is time for truth, it is time for justice, and it is time to respect the dignity of the land’s custodians; a dignity which so many, have sacrificed so much for.

Dr Lasslett’s book ‘State Crime on the Margin’s of Empire: Rio Tinto, the War on Bougainville and Resistance to Mining’ is available via Pluto Press.

Bougainville News: Bougainville Government passes its own mining law

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BOUGAINVILLE GOVERNMENT PASSES ITS OWN MINING LAW.

By Aloysius Laukai 

The Bougainville Autonomous Government House of representatives this afternoon passed the controversial Bougainville Transitional Mining law after a lengthy debate which included the 41 ABG members and two National Government members, the Member for Central Bougainville, JIMMY MIRINGTORO and the Regional member, JOE LERA.

The new Bougainville transitional mining law now means that the PNG mining law ceases to apply in Bougainville and this means the Bougainville Copper Agreement also ceases to operate on Bougainville as of today.

This means that any future mining on Bougainville and including exploration would only be granted license under this law and by the ABG.

This law has also created history in that Landowners are now the rightful owners of their resources and have the VETO power to stop any development on their land.

This law also addresses the call by many critics that wanted stolen rights to return to the people of Bougainville. And all other interested players must now come through the ABG instead of dealing directly with the landowners as many cases in the past.

Today’s parliament sitting was witnessed by all stakeholders who have a special interest in Bougainville and was also witnessed by people who travelled all the way from North, Central and South Bougainville.

The law now enables any interested groups especially landowners who want to work with their partners to register their interests either on exploration or mining on Bougainville . The new Bougainville mining transitional law will operate until the permanent law on mining is passed by the ABG House

Bougainville Education News: Bougainville teachers receive TOT training

 

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FROM PNG EDUCATION NEWS

THE Bougainville Education Department, in its effort to make schools have their own Behavioral Management Policy (SBMP), has undertaken the task of training teachers to document their own policies.

The Department has already given Training of Trainers (TOT) to elementary and primary school head teachers, their board of management chairman’s and village chiefs of Selau and Suir constituencies in North Bougainville.

The policy is to act as a guideline to promote a caring, safe and healthy environment for the purpose of improving students learning inside the school and within the community.

Last week saw another TOT training being conducted at Tekokni primary school in Suir which was attended by 43 participants from the area.

The training was facilitated by Education Standard Officer, Mr Felix Sarimu, Guidance officer, Josephine Passingan and District Education Officer Mr. Ignatius Veromboe.

Mrs Passingan said the purpose of involving the chiefs, BOM and teachers is because there is a need for wider consultation to document the SBMP.

Acting Secretary of Bougainville Education Department, Mr Michael Meten, who attended the closing of the workshop last Thursday said the same problems that a child has in school is also being faced in the community.

“With the increase in number of students because of the tuition fee free education by the O’Neill/Dion Government, teachers now have a big responsibility to deal with,’ he said.

“Family problems also affects the child and teachers and the BOM must need to deal with that particular child and they must also deal with bullying, alcohol, smoking and chewing of betelnut in bigger students.’’

Mr Meten pointed out that every school needs to develop a policy to guide behavior in school and to help create a conducive environment for students, before adding that the policy will now be part of the Schools Learning Improvement (SLIP).

This week will see the participants from these two constituencies imparting on the training to their counterpart teachers during their in-service week and after that they must complete their documentation of the SBMP for launching on October this year.

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