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Pirate Radio Struggles during Bougainville War

International Freedom of Expression eXchange Clearing House

IFEX Communique #4 - 20 (15 May, 1995)

The coconut tree has become a source of free information on the island of Bougainville in Papua-New Guinea, reports Reporters sans frontieres (RSF) in the May issue of its monthly bulletin, La Lettre. Max Watts and Boris Adam write that the rebels fighting for independence must often resort to coconut oil to run the generator that powers their pirate radio station, Radio Free Bougainville. The oil of forty coconuts provides power to the station for one hour. But RSF says the price is heavy. A supporter of the station who himself survived an attempted summary execution recounts that the army caught four of his friends who were harvesting coconuts for the station and executed them. The article describes how the six-year war between the army of Papua-New Guinea and the separatists has taken its toll on the islanders. Censorship of the war on Bougainville continues, with the country's media ignoring it. Independent journalists are also prevented from visiting the island by a blockade, with the government allowing access to only "acceptable" journalists.

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