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

 

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

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

Go to http://www.abg.gov.pg/peace-agreement to read this foundational document.

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

What is the next step ? Referendum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that was documented in the Ceasefire Agreement.

Women were at the forefront, negotiating for peace.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

300817BANAM TELLS HOW LEITANA DEMANDED FOR AUTONOMY
By Aloysius Laukai

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ends
Caption of the March in Buka today Picture by Aloysius Laukai

Bougainville 2015 elections : United Nations kicks off training and media support

cq5dam_web_699_470“These elections are of fundamental importance to Bougainville. OBEC welcomes the UN´s support in these key components of a democratic election.”

OBEC´s acting Commissioner, George Manu

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is starting a comprehensive training programme focusing on election Scrutineers, Returning Officers, and Media in Bougainville.

The polling period will fall between May 11 and May 25. Counting will commence immediately after the polling period from May 26 to June 7 and the writs will be returned the next day, June 8, 2015

The trainings are part of UNDP´s effort to enhance the understanding of the 2015 Bougainville general elections process, due to start from 11 May. UNDP will also be supporting the coordination of election observation groups, providing training support to women candidates, and facilitating a post-elections lessons-learnt exercise.

The scrutineer training is expected to reach as many as 720 people and aims to provide scrutineers with an overview of the electoral process and their role in it so that any complaints raised during polling and counting are based on an understanding of those processes.

UNDP will also facilitate small group and one-on-one training discussions with Bougainville’s 19 Returning Officers, focusing on the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commission´s (OBEC) process for handling complaints during the polling and counting periods. The training aims to ensure that complaints about elections are resolved in a consistent, transparent, and timely manner.

The media training will target local media houses. The main objective of the training is to equip journalists with the basic knowledge and professional skills that will enable them to cover election processes in a fair, balanced, and non-partisan way and through them enable citizens to become well-informed and active participants in the political decision processes.

“Election stakeholders, such as Scrutineers, Returning Officers, and Media, are a key component of the wider election process. By ensuring their understanding of their role and the electoral procedures, we are promoting credible elections,” said Ray Kennedy, UNDP´s electoral support team leader.

OBEC´s acting Commissioner, George Manu, stated that “These elections are of fundamental importance to Bougainville. OBEC welcomes the UN´s support in these key components of a democratic election.”

Roy Trivedy, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, said that “The UN is working closely with OBEC. This training will assist to ensure free and transparent elections.”

UNDP has tailored its election support following a request of the Government of PNG and the Autonomous Bougainville Government for a UN electoral assistance project to strengthen local capacity in the lead up to the 2015 elections.

For further requests, please contact: bougainville.elections.2015@undp.org

Media accreditation to start for 2015 general elections in Bougainville

28 Apr 2015The Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner (OBEC) has today announced the start of a media accreditation process for the coverage of the 2015 elections.The accreditation process will start on 27 April and will continue through the elections to allow the media easier access to election officials, locations, and information.OBEC invites all interested media houses to request further details on the accreditation process from the election commission´s Media Relations unit.

Together with their accreditation badge, journalists will receive an election handbook containing useful information on the election process.

According to OBEC´s Acting Commissioner, George Manu, “OBEC, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme, has developed a simple media accreditation process that will enable journalists to gain access to relevant electoral events”.

“This new process of media accreditation is one further step to pave the way for credible and transparent elections, according to international election standards”, Manu added.

OBEC is the entity responsible for the administration and conduct of the Bougainville 2015 general elections, to be held from 11 May.
UNDP is providing support to the OBEC’s media accreditation process as part of its wider work on supporting the Autonomous Bougainville Government in upholding general elections scheduled to take place in May-June 2015.
Specific assistance will be provided to the areas including: the development of step-by-step prioritized electoral support plan; provision of technical guidance on implementing the support plan; coordinating the deployment of international observers; training of election scrutineers; developing training materials and providing hands-on training for female candidates and more. Project is implemented by UNDP in partnership with its sister agencies and will run from March to July 2015.

Bougainville Mining News: Rumbles from the jungle as Bougainville mine stirs

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The big questions hanging over the mine right now include: who will run the Autonomous Bougainville Government after the election due at the end of May? Nine figures are contending the presidency, including several former combatants, with the front runners probably former Catholic priest John Momis, the veteran incumbent, and Sam Akoitai, a former national mining minister.

The next government will have the responsibility of setting the parameters for the referendum on independence that must happen at some time during the five years from this July.

The Panguna mine on Bougainville Island would cost $6.5bn to restart.

Source: The Australian Rowan Callick News Limited

Even the long-suffering Bougainville Copper board, which has witnessed cargo cults, wars, and the closure of its own vast mine, was puzzled when its share price soared 50 per cent a week ago.

For this sudden surge of confidence appeared, oddly, to have been triggered by troubling news for the company — the commencement of a new Mining Act passed by the Bougainville autonomous region’s parliament, which hands back control of all resources to landowners.

The future of the Bougainville mine, which still contains copper and gold worth about $50 billion, is tied up with its complex past, with the long geopolitical shadow cast by the 1989-2001 civil war on the island — and with cargo-­cultist hopes held out by local leaders allied to eccentric foreigners constantly seeking to seize control of the resources from BCL.

The ASX issued a “speeding ticket”, asking the company to explain the April 2 share price leap. BCL replied that it couldn’t.

The price had slid back down to 28c by Friday.

The directors of the company, which is 53.58 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, 19.06 per cent by the Papua New Guinea government, and 27.36 per cent by other shareholders, are trying to juggle an enormous range of unknowns and variables, without even the compensating benefits of having a mine to run.

It has remained closed since May 1989, and would cost upwards of $6.5bn to reopen.

The big questions hanging over the mine right now include: who will run the Autonomous Bougainville Government after the election due at the end of May? Nine figures are contending the presidency, including several former combatants, with the front runners probably former Catholic priest John Momis, the veteran incumbent, and Sam Akoitai, a former national mining minister.

The next government will have the responsibility of setting the parameters for the referendum on independence that must happen at some time during the five years from this July.

What will be the response of the national government led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to the new Bougainville mining law? National legislation insists that, as in Australia, such resources are owned by the state.

And Mr O’Neill has hired Peter Graham, who led the remarkably successful construction of the country’s first liquefied natural gas project for ExxonMobil, to manage the Ok Tedi mine, which the Port Moresby government nationalised — and may be eager to deploy his skills to reopening Bougainville too, if Rio chooses to sell to PNG.

What does Rio itself want? At the end of 2014, it announced from London that it was reviewing its BCL stake.

It has not entirely lost its stomach for complex, ever-changing negotiations in developing countries with governments lacking the disciplines of party politics — managing director Sam Walsh only recently flew to Mongolia for talks about the constantly challenging Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine there.

But it could follow BHP-­Billiton, after its Ok Tedi debacle, in placing PNG in the ultimately-too-hard basket.

The key question is what do the landowners want? If they don’t want a mine back, it won’t happen.

Many do favour a reopening, since they see no alternative source of income for their families on the horizon — the agricultural potential for Bougainville is all on the coast, rather than in the mountains.

But they are themselves split into about nine recognisable factions — whereas at the time the mine was set up, during Australian colonial days, they spoke as a unified group.

The legislation does not specifically mention the BCL mine, because it is intended to cover the whole of the highly prospective region, which has since the onset of the civil war attracted growing numbers of carpetbaggers seeking to set up their own private operations — almost always seeking gold — in collaboration with ex-combatants who often retain guns.

Formerly, BCL was granted the only mining licence in Bougainville, which it still holds — but from the PNG government — while the Bougainville government now says its legislation supersedes the national legislation, under the accord agreed at the peace conference that ended the conflict.

The company is not only governed by legislation, but operated the mine under a contract with the PNG government that remains in force.

Peter Taylor, who has been chairman of BCL for 12 years, said that “the Bougainville government seems to want the mine reopened, but we have to sit down around a table and see what’s do­able.”

He said he remained confident that “if there’s a will there to get the mine reopened, we will find a way. But we’re talking a long lead time.’

When the first study about reopening was conducted, the copper and gold prices were lower than today — but that’s not the key issue: “We’re a mining business, not a trading business,” he said.

“It will happen only if the government and the landowners want it to happen.”

President John Momis, who has driven Bougainville’s new Mining Act, said that with it, “we are completely rejecting the terrible past. The Act recognises that all owners of customary land own all minerals in, on and under their land.” And now those who joined the civil war on the side of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army based around the mine site at Panguna, are also entitled, under custom, to share in any proceeds from that land.

Tourism News: Bougainville and PNG continues to attract International cruise ships boosting tourism, economic and cultural opportunities

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Bougainville continues to attract International cruise ships boosting tourism, economic and cultural opportunities throughout island according to Bougainville tourism operator Zhon Bosco Miriona .

“One of the potential benefits of cruising is that it brings visitors to remote areas that cannot otherwise to reached, providing a boost to village economies through the provision of shore excursions, cultural experiences and handicrafts”

As the PNGTIA points out cruising allows a new source of economic income and development which can provide associated benefits in areas such as health, employment and education,”

Zhon Bosco Miriona Managing Director (pictured below left recently promoting to international market): Bougainville Experience Tours and regional member for the PNG Tourism Industry Association , manages cruise ship tours from Kieta and Arawa

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Picture at top: Passengers of a cruise ship arriving at the Kuri Resort :130 visited with 24 of them going diving.

 

Pi

UPDATE from Lawrence Belleh ABG Tourism CEO : In March 2015 a cruise ship will visit the Queen Karoola Harbour  Bougainville .This is the first trip to the old Kesa Plantation that is being considered to be turned into a tourism hub on the Northern tip of Buka Island. The hub would benefit  Haku, Halia, Hagogohe, Peit and Tons constituencies and their people. There will be also a  visit to Pororan Island to experience the sand, beach, cultural displays (photo above)  and the opportunity buy Bougainville souvenirs.

 Media coverage

Shipping companies are taking an increasing interest in PNG, with passenger arrivals surging and even big ships now heading to PNG’s and Bougainville shores, Brian Johnston reports.

A P&O cruise liner arrives in Milne Bay. Credit: David Conn

The cruise news looks good. According to a report by the Pacific Islands Forum in mid-2013, the cruise industry has grown 125 per cent since 2005 and 143 new ships have been launched.

Particularly strong growth has been recorded in the Asian and Australian markets; a record 834,000 Australians took a cruise holiday in 2013. That puts Papua New Guinea in a geographically advantageous position.

What’s more, there’s plenty of room for expansion: currently only one in a hundred international cruisers (about 200,000 passengers) visit any Pacific island. In PNG, only five per cent of holiday arrivals are cruise passengers.

‘Cruise tourism in Papua New Guinea is facing a bright future with increased international interest in cruising and increasing willingness from cruise shipping companies to include Papua New Guinea on Pacific itineraries,’ concluded a recent report from the PNG Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA).

 

boat Of Arawa

The World ( pictured above) arriving last June at Pokpok Island ( pictured above from Simon Pentanu ) , Central Bougainville.

Significant markets

PNG 9000x2

PNG 9000xThe US, New Zealand, Japan and the UK are significant markets, but half of all cruise visitors to PNG are Australians. That sector is also significant because many cruises are one way, with Australian visitors often extending with land-based holidays.

The PNG Government is taking notice. In 2010 it launched its first comprehensive cruise strategy which looked to improving port facilities and opportunities for shore excursions, waiving visa fees for cruise passengers, and reducing pilot fees by half. With expedition cruising already established, the aim was to entice luxury mid-size ships and even big operators.

‘Cruise tourism in Papua New Guinea is facing a bright future with increased international interest.’

In October 2014, the TPA launched a trade website to educate and inform travel agents. It has also emphasised PNG as a cruise destination in international trade shows and tourism events in Europe, the US and Australia.

While new jetties have been built in Kitava and Kaibola, among others, Milne Bay became the focus of efforts, since Alotau already had a good port and is well positioned on potential cruise routes from Australia. Wharfs were extended and new public facilities added.

In 2013, the arrival of P&O Cruises’ 2050-passenger Pacific Dawn in Milne Bay showed the strategy delivering results.

Pacific Dawn’s entry into the region allowed a new wave of low-cost travellers to see the beauty and thriving culture of PNG at a much lower price point than travel to PNG previously allowed,’ says Stuart Thompson, TPA’s Australia and New Zealand representative.

‘It’s a game changer. Mass cruising provides greater consumer awareness, growth in demand and increased repeat visitation. As we’ve witnessed with Vanuatu, cruising has the potential to attract a percentage of past passengers back to the destination for an extended holiday.’

Growing presence

PNG 9303x2

Currently P&O Cruises visits five PNG ports and will add Kavieng and Madang early this year. It has already announced a significant increase in its cruise presence, with its 2015-16 program including its first back-to-back PNG cruises from Cairns, and its first dedicated PNG cruises from Brisbane and Sydney.

‘The addition of two more ships has given us the flexibility to increase our PNG itineraries and open up new destinations. P&O’s return to PNG was possible because of the strong support of the national government and local authorities, particularly in relation to the provision of infrastructure to accommodate cruise ship visits,’ explains P&O Cruises’ CEO Ann Sherry.

In 2014, Pacific Dawn wasn’t alone in visiting PNG waters. Other visits were made by Japan’s NYK Cruises, Holland-America Line’s Amsterdam, the British ships Black Watch and Caledonian Sky, French Polynesia-based Paul Gauguin, ultra-luxe residential cruise ship The World and three ships from both Hapag-Lloyd and Silversea. Princess Cruises now features PNG across 14 different cruises; it has also added PNG to its 2016 world cruise.

‘Mass cruising provides greater consumer awareness, growth in demand and increased repeat visitation.’

Small-size expedition ships continue to have a strong presence, among them Coral Princess Cruises’ Oceanic Discoverer and North Star Cruises’ True North, which carries a helicopter and Zodiac landing boats for access to remote areas. One of its three itineraries focuses on diving the remote Louisiade Archipelago. Aurora Expeditions has a 12-night cruise from Cairns that includes the Trobriand Islands and Tufi fjords.

Cruising benefits

One of the potential benefits of cruising is that it brings visitors to remote areas that cannot otherwise to reached, providing a boost to village economies through the provision of shore excursions, cultural experiences and handicrafts.

The TPA says 90 per cent of revenue from coastal tourism operators comes from cruising in some destinations. “Cruising allows a new source of economic income and development which can provide associated benefits in areas such as health, employment and education,” says Stuart Thompson.

With the big surge in PNG cruising barely two years old, that remains to be seen, but certainly these are exciting times for cruise tourism in PNG and Bougainville. Watch this space.

For More Information on Bougainville Tourism

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Bougainville Women’s Federation Survey : Why young women aren’t showing an interest in leadership roles.

hona

A survey is being carried out of young women on Bougainville as part of a young women’s leadership programme.

The project is being undertaken by the Bougainville Women’s Federation and is trying to gauge why young women aren’t showing an interest in getting involved in women’s organisations and leadership roles.

President of the Bougainville Women’s Federation, Hona Holan (pictured above) , told Jamie Tahana the project is mainly to find out young women’s interests, and the barriers that keep them from getting involved.

FROM RADIO NZ listen to interview here

HONA HOLAN: We are coming together tomorrow to look at the results of the survey. By tomorrow we should put together the results. The survey was done by the young women of Bougainville with their siblings at the age of 18 to 35.

JAMIE TAHANA: Tell me a bit about this survey. You’ve surveyed how many young women of Bougainville and what did you ask them?

HH: The questions were on if they know about Bougainville Women’s Federation. If they work with other NGOs or church groups and if they are not involved with groups, what are their problems, what are their issues.

JT: Okay. And so this is to address a lack of women in leadership roles in Bougainville is it?

HH: That’s right. This Bougainville Women’s Federation, it’s looking at building the capacity of young women to be leaders of tomorrow. Like making space for them so that we mentor them and they can take our place when we move out of the leadership.

JT: Why do you think that is? That there aren’t so many women in leadership roles. What are the barriers here?

HH: Maybe the barriers are, young women are not interested in activities that we put out. Some questions that also went out to them is what are their interests or how we can get put their interests over so they can join in.

JT: Why is there no interest?

HH: We asked some of the questions around that and the young women were telling us that we are not giving them space. The older women, the mature women, are not giving them space, so that is what we found out from our survey.

JT: Once you get these results, what are you going to do from there?

HH: We are going to share it with the ABG and partners, like development partners, and then we can develop activities to affect, like building capacity and so on, we need to develop activities. It’s not easy because Bougainville Women’s Federation, we don’t have funding and it’s not easy so we need to share the results with other NGOs and the government of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea so we can all see what the young women are interested in. Some of the results are they need education, they need to further their education.

You can support the education of young girls and women by donating to our education revolution

DONATE HERE 20/50/100 $ or kina

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Bougainville News: Bougainville voices raised in anger in new PNG Crocodile Prize Anthology

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Overall award for the book of the year, the inaugural winner of which was Leonard Fong Roka for his memoir, Brokenville, which brings a child’s eye view to the civil war on Bougainville. Pictured above in Buka where he is now working for the Bougainville Government.

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DRUSILLA MODJESKA | The Australian

THE better part of a decade ago, Papua New Guinean writer Regis Tove Stella said what his country needed was writers, far more of them than there were, to claim, or reclaim, the role of ‘‘visionary’’ and witness.

He concluded his 2007 book, Imagining the Other, with an elegant argument that it was only when the writers and intellectuals served as ‘‘watchdogs’’ alert to the ‘‘bleak’’ political realities and spoke out against corruption and greed — ‘‘the rape of a country’’ — that change would begin where it mattered: in the minds and hearts of a people.

In 2007 in PNG, a time of little publishing and all too few writers, let alone readers, it seemed a frail hope.

But PNG’s people have always been great storytellers and debaters, and while there may not have been many novels published and read since independence in 1975, there have consistently been a few noble souls who have taken the role of witness and poet.

Oral storytelling remains a reality for many, the stories that are told folding recent histories into those handed down from past generations. And newspapers do a busy trade in markets across the country. You see them read, and being read to those who cannot read.

So maybe Regis Stella, who died in 2010, would not have been surprised had he lived to see publication of the fourth Crocodile Prize anthology, a celebration of PNG poetry, fiction, essays and heritage writing.

When I reviewed the second anthology, towards the end of 2012, I was celebratory, but also tentative — as were many of the writers.

Two years later, in this anthology with 66 writers represented — among them writers from previous years and a heartening number of new, young voices — much of this tentativeness has gone.

A new generation of Papua New Guineans is claiming the written as part of their storytelling, debating inheritance — theirs as surely as any technology that comes with a post­colonial modernity.

I write and write / Like my forefathers before me / My blood is the ink on my paper …

This, from Diddie Kinamun Jackson’s Crocodile Prize winning poem, As a writer, opens a meditation on Melanesian expression that would have pleased Regis Stella.

But for the most part the mood of this anthology is less meditative. Anger is a dominant emotion — anger and loss — which could hardly be otherwise for a generation living with high levels of urban dysfunction, violence and ­corruption.

There are tough stories to be told, and so we read short stories about children finding neighbouring children shot dead; a girl killing herself because she’s pregnant; a widow struggling to raise her children with no money for school fees; a girl in a green dress raped and dumped in a drain.

The Crocodile Prize-winning story, Agnes Maineke’s, While war raged in Bougainville there was a miracle at Haisi, is about a woman giving birth in a remote hut during the civil war on Bougainville.

Bloodlines and dynasties / Disrespected and destroyed / Love, respect and honour / Erased by the power of rifles

With these lines, another Bougainville writer, Marlene Dee Gray Potoura, begins her story of a little girl woken at dawn during that vicious war.

As men with guns surround the village she escapes the carnage that follows by running into the forest, the gun-toting ‘‘crawlers’’ in pursuit.

‘‘The whole forest was angry,’’ Potoura writes, and in a smooth movement she takes us from the stark realism of the guns to a forest in which trees think, feel and act in unison.

And so a ‘‘grandfather tree’’ uproots itself ‘‘in seconds known only to the secrets of the forest’’ and its ‘‘hard old trunk’’ falls on the crawlers and kills them.

As it falls, its branches lift the girl to safety. The tree as a talisman for the power of an endangered inheritance.

‘‘Your guardian trees,’’ writes Michael Dom, a previous poetry prize winner. ‘‘No more you flame.’’

Gary Juffa’s poem on the ‘‘supposed concern’’ and ‘‘pockets filled’’ that accompany the widespread and often illegal felling of the forests, ends each stanza with the refrain: ‘‘And the trees keep falling.’’

It is in the essays that the corruption and greed underlying the violence and the dispossession are named. Where the essays in the earlier anthologies hinted and gestured, here there’s a confidence, a refusal to collude or be silenced.

Blogger and social media activist Martyn Namorong writes of counter-corruption, of corrupting the corrupters.

Bernard Yegiora questions the voting system, the pork-barrelling, the ‘‘wari-vote’’ that can get a corrupt politician back into power when the voters want the handouts back.

‘‘The race within the race,’’ Bernard Witne calls it, as money outstrips policy, and everyone, in large ways and small, is out to ‘‘thicken their purse’’.

Is a Westminster system developed over centuries on the other side of the world the best model for a country of 800 languages and tribes? What would, or could, a Melanesian democracy look like?

And so the question is reopened, first raised in 1980, of whether there is, or can be, a ‘‘Melanesian Way’’ out of this mess.

What system of government would, or could, give back to its people the resource-rich wealth of opportunity? Is it neo-colonialism that rules, as Namarong suggests? He ends one of his essays with the hope that his colleague Nou Vada, who appeared in the earlier anthologies, will one day be prime minister.

‘‘The day a boy from Hanuabada becomes prime minister will be the end of colonisation,’’ he writes. Another frail hope?

There’s been many a local boy, though not from Hanuabada, who have taken the role. Some of them did it well, but were too often replaced by those who fill their pockets from the coffers of state.

On the other hand, if anyone doubts change is possible, contemplate Gary Juffa, who has 10 pieces in this anthology. His story of going on a picnic as a child with a saved packet of noodles, picking tomatoes and shallots in the gardens as the picnickers walked to the river, is one of the best in the collection.

The clouds come over and the group scrambles up the rocks to the road. They make it home to discover two children shot outside their father’s tradestore.

Juffa is now a member of the PNG parliament and, since 2012, governor of Oro Province that takes in Kokoda and its famous track. One of his first acts as governor of a once deeply corrupt province was to put a moratorium on all land deals, logging and resource extraction pending audit and review.

“‘The days of watching our resources be shipped out for whatever scraps have been throw at us is over,’’ he said.

His essays are tough and fearless, impressive by any standard and from a politician remarkable. From a politician in PNG, they could also be considered foolhardy. His first term in parliament showed him how reluctant his fellow members were to speak on national issues for fear of losing access to government funding needed to keep their electorates happy.

In Tribe Versus Nation: Observations on PNG’s Core Challenge, he writes of being warned ‘‘by a particular minister’’, and it indeed proved the case that when this year’s budget was handed down, he saw that he and his province had been well and truly ‘‘punished’’.

There are those who urge him to keep quiet, to think only of what he can do for Oro with the money silence buys, but he says he will not.

While tribalism ‘‘is necessary for the preservation of culture, language, [our] unique identities’’, the future of PNG — the ‘‘core challenge’’ if there is to be any possibility of a better way, a Melanesian way — depends on a leadership willing to renounce the power of playing tribe against tribe, and speak for the wider collective consciousness.

Even if it costs him the next election, he will continue to speak out, he says, because something has begun, ‘‘the stirrings of change’’ are afoot. ‘‘The concern is now a small seed, but it is growing and growing fast.’’

We can only hope he is right. Change will not come easily, and it will not come fast. At the time of writing Juffa, halfway through his, was facing a vote of no-confidence, orchestrated, according to media reports, by corporate interests.

ANOTHER sign of PNG’s literary stirrings is that this year there were two new categories in the Crocodile Prize. One was for children’s writing, sponsored by Buk bilong Pikinini, the children’s library organisation that is growing apace, bringing books and stories to children from impoverished urban settlements.

The other was an overall award for the book of the year, the inaugural winner of which was Leonard Fong Roka for his memoir, Brokenville, which brings a child’s eye view to the civil war on Bougainville.

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The war, for him, began in class 2A at Arawa Community School. There was a commotion along his row of desks: the son of a policeman reported fighting in the mountains.

There had been rumours and strange behaviour among the adults, and this time even the teacher stopped to listen. The division was right there in that classroom, between the dark-skinned children of Bougainville and the ‘‘redskin’’ children of parents from the mainland.

At first it is clear enough for the young Roka. It’s us against them. Our island. Their government. Our land. Their mine.

The reality, of course, proves less clear cut for a boy whose father was a ‘‘redskin’’ from West New Britain and whose mother is from Bougainville. He has relatives on all sides. There are those who depend on the economy generated by the mine; there is his uncle, Joseph Kabui, a senior man in the militant interim government.

Over the next years, before he can return to school, Roka will learn a great deal about war and tribalism, the contradictions of a nation drawn from colonial borders, about moral ambiguity, about betrayal and possibility.

‘‘I owe much to [that] crisis,’’ he writes in his acknowledgments. ‘‘It made me who I am.’’

It is in such writing from Bougainville, perhaps not paradoxically, that the pulse of change ticks most strongly.

Drusilla Modjeska’s most recent novel is The Mountain. She is founder of not-for-profit SEAM Fund, which supports literacy in remote communities in PNG. www.seamfund.org

The Crocodile Prize Anthology 2014, edited by Phil Fitzpatrick, Pukpuk Publishing, 512 pp, $15 from Amazon

Brokenville by Leonard Fong Roka, Pukpuk Publishing, 239pp, $10 from Amazon

Help us produce more Bougainville writers by donating today to Bookgainville

 

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Bougainville Cultural Tourism News: Buin’s Tuiruma cultural festival ends on a high

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By Aloysius Laukai

Additional photos Bougainville Travel

The first ever three-days TUIRUMA FESTIVAL ENDS IN HIGH NOTEthat was held last week in Buin ended in high note with participants and the public wanting a permanent date set to attract more local and overseas tourists to visit the show in future.

The show was officially closed by the ABG member for BABA, WILLIAM SILAMAI who called on all participants and the people of Buin to maintain the good example they set during the festival to show unity of all Bougainvilleans.

MR. SILAMAI said that the smiles in all the participants faces only indicate one thing that is all were happy to be part of the three- days show.

MR. SILAMAI said that as declared by the co sponsor and member for South Bougainville, STEVEN KAMMA PIRIKA to rotate the venue they would prepare for the next show to be held in Siwai in 2015 and BANA in 2016.

The Show has 44 cultural groups, Arts, Crafts and carvers who were also excited to be part of the first TUIRUMA Festival.

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In his opening remarks the ABG President, Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS said that cultural festivals is one sure way of uniting the people of Bougainville and his government will continue to support them in the future.

The Member for South Bougainville, STEVEN KAMMA PIRIKA also pledged ONE MILLION KINA in the next five years.

The Regional member for Bougainville, JOE LERA also contributed funds towards the staging of the TUIRUMA Festival and said that he was also committed to fund the Tuiruma festival and other festivals throughout the region.

Meanwhile, New Dawn FM managed to talked to several people regarding the three-days Tuiruma festival.

Police Commander for South Bougainville, Commander JOHN POPUI praised the people for maintaining peace throughout the festival.

He told New Dawn FM in Buin that 46 police personnel were engaged to look after the festival with the support of the South Bougainville Veterans Association.

One church worker said that the festival made it possible for their group to meet many people and a Businessman said that he had made extra monies during the festival.

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For International visitors you can book your 2015 Bougainville Festival Tour here

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Bougainville News: Six tonnes of unexploded munitions cleared from a World War II Bougainville battle site

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Australian soldiers have cleared more than six tonnes of unexploded hand grenades and mortars from a World War II battle site on the island of Bougainville, east of Papua New Guinea.

Watch the Australian Department of Defence VIDEO Here

The huge haul of munitions came in just the first week of Operation Render Safe 2014.

Report from Liam Cochrane ABC network Australia

Photo from the Australian High Commission  PNG

The Australian-led international mission is clearing potentially deadly munitions from the villages and food gardens around Torokina, on the west coast of Bougainville.

The Australian Army said the sheer amount of rusty old munitions surprised even seasoned explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) experts.

“They are mostly two-inch-high explosive mortars and hand grenades, in varying conditions, left in place after the war,” EOD operator Warrant Officer Class Two David Austin said.

An Allied air base was built at Torokina by the US in 1943 and was the launching place for Australian ground attacks against the Japanese in 1944-1945.

More than 500 Australians died and 1,500 were injured in the Bougainville campaign.

Seventy years later, the Australian army has returned to clean up the deadly remnants of war.

More than 500 Australian military personnel are involved in Operation Render Safe 2014, with support from HMAS Choules, an MRH90 helicopter, landing craft and amphibious vehicles.

With little infrastructure at Torokina, soldiers have landed vehicles on the beach and trekked into the jungle to look for unexploded ordinance.

Despite five months of awareness-building activities, there were criticisms of the munitions clearance by some former combatants in the more recent conflict on Bougainville.

Australia’s role on Bougainville is still a sensitive issue due to the civil war in the 1990s, sparked by disputes over the Panguna mine, operated by Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited.

“Former combatants have said that this operation is a breach of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, but I had explained to them that the operation… enhances the peace that the people of Torokina want,” said Patrick Nisira, vice-president of the autonomous government of Bougainville.

Local police help soldiers locate storage pits

Australian army personnel said the reception on the ground had been friendly.

“The people of Bougainville have been most welcoming and we have been working very closely with them to identify explosive remnants of war which pose a threat to local communities,” operation commander Captain Jay Bannister said.

Members of the Bougainville Police Service and locals have helped soldiers locate the munitions storage pits, with assistance from explosives experts from the US, UK, Canada, News Zealand and Solomon Islands.

“As well as helping the community, this is a great training opportunity for the younger EOD guys,” Mr Austin said.

“For the past 10 years we have been focused on the Middle East region but this gets us back to the grass roots fundamentals of our job.”

The mortars and hand grenades were stacked in pits and destroyed by a controlled blast.

Operation Render Safe 2014 will end on 8 November.

Previous Operation Render Safe missions have removed unexploded ordnance from Solomon Islands and Rabaul in Papua New Guinea.

ABC

Bookgainville  Project on Bougainville PNG

Bougainville Media News: Bougainville’s first mobile community radio station launched

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By Aloysius Laukai

The Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Bureau of Media and Communications has bought a Suitcase radio that will be used to carry out awareness throughout Bougainville.
This is despite the ABG signing an MOU for a 60/40 Content agreement with the National Broadcasting Corporation at the beginning of this year to carry out awareness on the NBC Bougainville network.


Following this MOU a support grant of FOUR MILLION KINA was pledged to support NBC Buka to reach the entire region.


The FM radio similar to the one used by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, Radio Free Bougainville during the height of the Bougainville conflict will be moved from locations to locations to carry their awareness program.


According to reports gathered by New Dawn FM this is funded with TWO MILLION KINA by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (AUSAID) (DFAT).
The new radio CALLED “Radio PLES LAIN” will be launched at the BEL ISI PARK on November 6 and 7th, 2014.

They have been testing their signals in Buka on 98.6 Megahertz on the FM BAND.


Meanwhile New Dawn FM a local radio operating from Buka since 2008 has signed a grant deed agreement with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to Produce, screen and distribute six awareness videos in Tok Pidgin language to raise awareness about missing persons, war widows, government corruption and the three pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement

Bookgainville  Project on Bougainville PNG

Bougainville Communication News: PNG to impose a cybercrime policy and mobile phone regulation

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COMMUNICATIONS Minister and Member for Central Bougainville Jimmy Miringtoro according to expert and technical analysis, will be the first Pacific island member of parliament to impose a cybercrime policy and mobile phone regulation.

With modern day crimes being committed using technology, it remains a threat and a grave concern for Papua New Guinea’s national security.

Republished from PNG LOOP

Speaking to PNG Loop the Minister stated things will be moving forward now for his ministry in technical terms, upgrading of systems and also imposing rules on the use of certain systems, programs and materials.

“Our main aim is to crack down on a lot of scams being done using our social networks such as Facebook and Twitter,’’  Miringtoro said. “It is now time to say no to these crimes that are being committed day to day by professional criminals.”

Miringtoro said his policy was published in both the nation’s daily newspapers and the policy was  clearly aligned with certain acts already in place. Namely the PNG Customs Act and the National Intelligence Organisation (NIO) Acts.

“In other countries these laws are already being practised, and people are abiding by it and PNG will be doing the same thing. Some people have been given a lot of freedom technology wise but they are also abusing that freedom which is bad,’’  Miringtoro said.

“For instance China being a communist nation has now banned Facebook. We’re lucky here in PNG that we’re only going to regulate it.”

Most terrorist organisations are recruiting using the internet and cyber thieves are also using the internet in order to steal from other people.

PNG will now be on a technological revolution this time to block and apprehend who ever commits a cyber-crime

– See more at: http://www.pngloop.com/2014/10/27/minister-sets-combat-cyber-crime/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter#sthash.mdIqjP0F.dpuf