History of Oceania in general|
Date: Sun, 26 May 1996 02:52:13 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Bougainville fights for freedom
At 07:17 AM 5/16/96 +1000,:
Bougainville fights for freedom
By the Bougainville Freedom Movement
16 May 1996
WHERE IS BOUGAINVILLE?
Bougainville is just to the north or Australia, at the far western tip of
the Solomon Islands archipelago. It is a tropical, mountainous island and
is geographically and ethnically part of the Solomon Islands, being seven
kilometres away from its nearest Solomon Islands neighbour.
However, at the turn of the century, power-broking European colonial powers
made Bougainville part of Papua New Guinea (PNG), despite the fact that
Bougainville is 500 kilometres away from the mainland of Papua New
Bougainville is a Melanesian village-based society, sustained mainly by food
gardens and fishing. Much of the land is owned by women and inherited
through the female line.
WHY A WAR ON BOUGAINVILLE?
There is a secret genocidal war on Australia's doorstep, using our taxes to
re-open the C.R.A. / R.T.Z. Australian owned copper mine at Panguna on
Bougainville. The establishment of the copper mine in 1969 saw 800
Bougainville people landless and another 1400 without fishing rights. The
land was seized by C.R.A. mining company and forests were cleared. No law
in the late 1960's impelled environmental impact studies for industrial
developments. Two hundred and twenty (220) hectares of Panguna's forests
were poisoned, felled and burnt, then bulldozed directly down into the
river, along with tonnes of rich organic topsoil.
C.R.A. mining company gouged a hole 6 kilometres long, 4 kilometres wide
and half a kilometre deep. Over a billion tonnes of poisonous tailings were
dumped into the river system. The toxic wastes was poured straight into the
Kawerong River then carried down the Jaba River to the coast, leaving a
trail of death 35 kilometres long. The fish in the rivers developed
ulcerations and died, birds, flying foxes and possums disappeared. The Jaba
River became choked with tailings and overflowed its banks, turning flat
lands into contaminated swamps.
The people of Bougainville opposed the mine from the very start. The
indigenous land owners, primarily women, resisted police and lay down with
their babies in front of the bulldozers in an attempt to stop the mining of
their land. After 20 years of protests, petitions, lobbying and attempts to
negotiate an equitable agreement with C.R.A. and the PNG government, the
land owners had had enough. In 1988, the people of Bougainville forcibly
closed C.R.A.'s copper mine at Panguna. At the time Panguna was the world's
most profitable copper mine. For C.R.A., its shareholders and the PNG
government, the mine was a multi-million dollar bonanza.
The PNG government, supported by Australia, responded to the action of the
Bougainville people by sending in riot police, and then the military, in an
attempt to re-open the copper mine. The Governments of Australia and Papua
New Guinea are waging a prolonged and brutal war against the people of
Bougainville, with the purpose of re-opening the Panguna copper mine and
BOUGAINVILLE BLOCKADED BY AUSTRALIA & PAPUA NEW GUINEA
On the basis of Australian military intelligence advice, the Australian and
PNG governments have adopted a military strategy with two key aims. The
first is to isolate Bougainville from the rest of the world which as been
achieved by imposing an air and sea military blockade. The deadly blockade
is now in its seventh year and has effectively sealed off Bougainville from
the outside world. It is designed to force the people of central
Bougainville to submit, by depriving them of medicines, fuel and
humanitarian aid. According to reputable reports from health workers and
the Uniting Church, the blockade has claimed more than 10,000 lives.
It is barbaric biological warfare on the civilian population of
Bougainville. The blockade is illegal under numerous international treaties
and conventions that have been signed by both Papua New Guinea and
Australia. Little is known about the war on Bougainville due to the
blockade which stops the media and international human rights organisations
from going to Bougainville. The Australian Government has remained
remarkably silent on these violations of international law which they are
assisting through the provision of military aid.
The second aim of the military strategy is to re-capture control of the
island of Bougainville through military operations and violence. However,
central Bougainville, with an estimated population of approx. 100,000 people
remains in the hands of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA). The
purpose of the blockade was to increase the hardships of the people in an
attempt to turn them against the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. The
officially stated purpose was to deprive the BRA of sources of arms. The
result was the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) learned how to make
their own guns.
AUSTRALIA'S MILITARY INVOLVEMENT IN BOUGAINVILLE
Australia is heavily involved in the war on Bougainville through training,
equipping and financing of the PNG Defence Force operations on Bougainville.
Australia gives the PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) almost $32 million per annum
in direct military aid and larger amounts in untied aid, much of which is
used to fund military operations on the island of Bougainville.
Approximately 2000 personnel, almost half of the entire PNGDF, have been
brought to Australia for training since the beginning of the crisis.
Australia also supplies PNG with Pacific Class patrol boats speedboats,
Iroquois helicopters and Nomad aircraft, which are all used to maintain and
enforce the blockade around the island of Bougainville.
In addition, there are many Australian military advisers on the island, who
are involved in directing and advising day-to-day operations, The guns,
mortar bombs, bullets and other Australian military equipment used by the
PNGDF are either manufactured in Australia or supplied by the Australian
military through arms supply agreements.
The war on Bougainville is going into its 7th year. It is the longest and
bloodiest war in the Pacific since World War II and has cost thousands of lives.
We must stop Australia's military aid. Our taxes are being used to kill
innocent people on Bougainville and suppress their rights. The Bougainville
Freedom Movement is working to break the silence in Australia and the world
about the dirty war on Bougainville.
A lasting solution must meet the basic human needs of the people for
self-determination, self-rule over their island. We call for the lifting of
the blockade to allow humanitarian aid to reach the people of Bougainville,
the withdrawal of the PNG Defence Forces and a settlement based on the
express wishes of the people of Bougainville free of violent threats,
assault, torture and murder allowing the Bougainville people the fundamental
right to determine their own future.