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This website has not been updated for some years. As of September 2004, a new website - Solidarity South Pacific - has superseded this, though this website has been left as it may still contain useful content.

Bougainville Updates

This page carries the Apr 2000 Bougainville news updates as received. You can find previous updates in the archive.

If you don't know what all this is about, Bougainville - The long struggle for freedom tells the whole story of the colonialisation, successful revolution and continuing war being waged against the life of Bougainville by western governments on behalf of corporations.

BOOK: Building Peace in Bougainville - Details & Order Form

Index: April 2000


Greens Senator Says Australia Should Attend West Papua Congress

An Australian Senator has called for Australia to attend the second national congress of West Papua.

Greens party Senator Bob Brown says West Papua or Irian Jaya has finalised details of the week-long meeting in Jayapura, starting on May the 29th. He says the congress will be opened by Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid. Senator Brown says it's a critical meeting for human rights in West Papua, with more than five-thousand people expected to attend. He says Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, should go to the congress or send a nominee. The Foreign Affairs Department in Canberra says the deputy head of Australia's embassy in Jakarta, Les Rowe, visited West Papua last week. The Department says it's not planning another such visit in the near future.

Source: Radio Australia, World News - 20 April 00 (3.13pm)

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Governor Works On Vision For B'ville

BOUGAINVILLE Governor John Momis is working towards a new deal for new Bougainville, with new vision.

The details of that new deal and new vision will be highlighted when he launches the "New Bougainville Development Summit" in June this year. The exact date of the summit is not yet known but initial plans are already underway and a three-man team of officials from the Department of Bougainville are in Port Moresby to discuss the summit and seek technical help from the Department of Planning and Monitoring. The team comprises the director of North Solomons University centre Joe Lera, North Solomons NGO co-ordinator Jacob Remit and Governor Momis' chief-of-staff James Togel.

In an interview yesterday, the three men said the main objective of the summit would discuss ways of re-shaping the economy of Bougainville with emphasis on the restoration of essential services and infrastructure development in all areas of the province. They said the summit would also look at ways of distributing equally the human resources that were available to all areas of the province to supplement the equal distribution of all basic services under the autonomous government. They said although significant progress had already been made to restore the services, including infrastructure development with the start of the peace process in 1997, a lot of work still remained to re-develop Bougainville to full potential. And to run the summit, key Bougainvilleans from the province and elsewhere in PNG have been selected to present papers on various aspects of services. Participants from the province will mainly be the chairmen of various council of elders and other senior government officials, including the interim provincial government members and other noted community leaders.

Source: Postcourier - 20 April 2000

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BCL Needs K1.6b To Re-open Mine

BRISBANE: Rio Tinto Ltd's Bougainville copper operations would require more than $1 billion to be reignited, says managing director Barry Cusack.

Speaking at a Morgans Stockbroking breakfast yesterday morning, Mr Cusack said Rio was still unable to gain access to the mine site which is under the control of rebel forces. "Representatives from the revolutionary army have stated they do not wish to see any resumption of mining," Mr Cusack said. He added aside from the political issues, the economics have shifted against the Bougainville operations since their heyday. "It has about 500 million tonnes of ore of which about half is pre-stripped, but Bougainville was running at a time before a lot of Chilean copper came on the market and shifted the cost curve. To restart the Bougainville operations, you would have to put in well north of $1 billion and if you'd like to put a cheque with that sort of number into that part of the world, you'd be pretty brave," Mr Cusack said. He said it would only be in the long term that somebody would see the Bougainville ore body and exploration prospects as an attractive proposition. "It would require the full endorsement of who ends up being the representative government of Bougainville."

Commenting on Rio's Indonesian operations, Mr Cusack said no production time was lost during last year's political upheaval there. Since last year, the situation had "settled down" but still posed significant challenges. "One of the things changing in Indonesia is a evolvement of power from the centre back to the provincial and local levels. "That is creating some questions over the regulatory regime and approvals processes. I think that is putting a question mark over new investment." Mr Cusack said Rio's 20 per cent owned Lihir Gold Ltd was "fundamentally on a much sounder footing than it was before" following recent changes. Lihir on Tuesday forecast gold production for 2000 of 600,000 ounces and terminated its mining contract with The Thiess-Roche joint venture. He said that with the recovery in Asia and continued growth in emerging countries, including China, the overall picture for producers of minerals and energy was positive.

Source: Postcourier (Business Section) - 20 April 00

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K30m Bville Budget Keeps Peace In Focus - 5 April 00

THE pursuit of a political settlement on Bougainville whilst maintaining peace and stability on the island are among the priority areas the newly installed Bougainville Interim Provincial Government is focusing on in its 2000 budget.

The K30 million budget was passed as the first order of business for the newly installed Bougainville Interim Provincial Government assembly on Buka island on Monday. The budget is now on its way to Port Moresby seeking the blessing of the Minister for Treasury before its implementation. According to provincial administrative secretary Francis Kabano, political settlement on the island will continue to receive the Bougainville Interim Governments utmost attention, along with the creation of an environment conducive for continued development programs, institutional capacity building and greater emphasis on infrastructure development.

Speaking to The National from Buka, Mr Kabano said whilst the budget seemed inadequate given the backdrop of the islands woes, it was welcome and particularly at a time when the K8 million Supply Bill 2000 funding approved by the National Government for the island lapsed last month. We will not be able to do all the things we want to do, but at least we can continue with programs that have been up and running since the ceasefire, Mr Kabano said. We are continuing to make good progress on the island but a great deal remains to be done to give Bougainvilleans the same level of services enjoyed pre-crises, he said.

Source: The National, 5 April 00

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PNG MP Doubts Cyanide Accident Site Has Been Cleaned Up

The Papua New Guinea MP for the area where a tonne of cyanide was spilt two weeks ago has called for an independent assessment of the site.

The cyanide fell from a helicopter as it was being transported to the Tolukuma gold mine, 85 kilometres north of the capital, Port Moresby. While the company says the site, including nearby creeks, have been cleaned up, Ajax Bia says he wants further environmental assessments. He also says local people are now asking whether the mine should continue. If the company cannot do what it's supposed to do, they will just have to go. Apart from the lousy royalties and compensation and all that in terms of infrastructure which will help the people in the long run, long term .. long term benefits are not there.

Source: Radio Australia - World News, 5 April 00 (2.12pm)

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Joseph Kabui To Wait For Autonomous Government Before Joining

The president of the Bougainville People's Congress, Joseph Kabui, says he won't be joining the island's new interim government, but will wait until the autonomous government is established.

Twenty-five members of the interim government were sworn in last Thursday, although another six seats were left for others, such as the leader of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, Francis Ona, and Mr Kabui. However, Mr Kabui says there is still opposition to the interim government on the island and expects the constitution to be changed this year: We should have the autonomous government established by, if all goes well, by first of January next year. If not the first quarter of the year 2001. So we're looking at the lifetime of the interim arrangment here on the ground to really run for all of this year. Before that can be done of course, getting the parliament of PNG to change, amend the constitution to facilitate the autonomous government.

Source: Radio Australia, World News - 4 April 00 (5.51am)

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Don't Cry For Me Bougainville

After an eight year secessionist war that resulted in a cease fire two years ago, the Papua New Guinea government, after being given the green light by the Australian government, has offered the people of Bougainville a referendum on independence, sometime in the never never.

The struggle for an independent Bougainville has its roots in the struggle to create an independent Papua New Guinea. Although the people of Bougainville have little in common with the rest of Papua New Guinea, they were forced to join the newly independent Papua New Guinea in 1975 and surprise, surprise they were offered a possible referendum on independence in the future in 1975. A referendum which you guessed it never occurred. Over 10% of the Bougainville population died in the secessionist struggle, not by bullet wounds but by starvation and a medical embargo which was enforced by the Australian Defence Forces.

The tragedy in Bougainville didn't occur because of Suharto the Butcher's activities, it occurred as a direct consequence of the policies of successively elected Australian governments who attempted to maintain the integrity of the Papua New Guinea State by force. Just in case you've broken out of the champagne to celebrate the latest undertakings, think again. The Australian and Papua New Guinea governments still want to keep Bougainville within Papua New Guinea. The successful independence struggle in East Timor has made their position atonable both in their peoples eyes and in the eyes of the world. The referendum comes with some pretty big strings attached. No date has been set for the referendum and surprise, surprise no date will be set until the Papua New Guinea government reasserts control over Bougainville. The government believes that what they couldn t stop by force will be stopped by a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the people. How little they understand about the peoples of Bougainville's desire to control their own affairs. The reintroduction of government services and a flood of consumer goods won t change the minds of a people who beat a blockade and a military campaign against them.

Source: Anarchist Age Weekly Review - 27 March-2nd April 2000

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Contact Details:

BFM - Bougainville Freedom Movement (Coordination in Australia):
VIKKI JOHN - e-mail: vikki@law.uts.edu.au
P.O. Box 134, Erskineville NSW 2043, Australia, Phone +61-2-9558-2730

BIG - Bougainville Interim Government
MOSES HAVINI (International Political Representative in Asia/Pacific)
PO Box 134, Erskinville, NSW 2043, Australia
tuluan@ar.com.au
Phone/Fax +61-2-9804-7632 , Mobile +61-(0)414-226-428

MARTIN MIRIORI (International BIG Secretary in Europe, NL)
e-mail: UNPOnl@antenna.nl (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Org.)
Phone +31-55-577-99-60 , Fax +31-55-577-99-39

MAX WATTS - (specialised Journalist) email: RosieK@bigpond.com
P.O. Box 98, Annandale NSW 2038, Australia
Phone +61-2-9564-1147 , Phone/Fax +61-2-9818-2343 (work)