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Saturday, 22 March 2014

Bougainville Manifesto 12: Protectionism for Bougainville

Leonard Fong Roka

The lack of a powerful leadership that exerts influence over all Bougainvilleans is an issue that time has offered the island and its people, and that resulted solely from the half-heartedness in the history of struggling for self determination since the 1960s.

Furthermore the post-crisis Bougainville should produce Bougainvilleans who are well aware of the long struggles the island had but adults and leaders turn to ignore the past as the tool to design the future; it is here that Bougainville should invest into.

In history most Bougainvillean pro-self determination organizations or independence movements like the 1969 Napidakoe Navitu formed to foster unity across the island, failed because they did not strategically built themselves. The persons within, did not invest time to built a concrete foundation for a Bougainville’s cause for a long term effect; but rather unprepared attempted to go into action in the short term; start and run a government with an unsustainable amount of resources.

This paved the way for external forces outright negation of Bougainville Island, its people and their values. And Bougainville was affected right from the individual, the family, community and beyond. And Bougainville Manifesto 3 (2013) gives light:

So the landing of colonization on the Solomon archipelago was the pollution and interruption of the peoples’ harmony and freedom in a land that was theirs through unrealistic value enforcement, indoctrination, deprivation, suppression and so on.


Westernization, after arriving in 1868, systematically enforced a breakdown in the ecology of life that sustained Bougainville and Bougainvilleans for nearly thirty thousand years. This has made Bougainvilleans lacked the capacity to function within their own island as a people who know and respect themselves. But this had made Bougainvilleans, a people full to the brim and thus made weak with alien ideas and concepts and trying to practice them in an environment that repels foreign intervention naturally.


Bougainvilleans, today, deny that they were a nation-state for over thirty thousand years. This is because modernization had made them erode their ethnic embodiment thus also losing their sense of direction. One of Africa’s writers, Francis M. Deng, in his 1997 article, Ethnicity: An African Predicament, summed this crisis as: ‘Ethnicity is more than the skin color or physical characteristics, more than language, song, and dance. It is the embodiment of values, institutions and patterns of behavior, a composite whole representing a people’s historical experience, aspirations, and world view. Deprive a people of their ethnicity, their culture, and you deprive them of their sense of direction and purpose’.


Having built multilateral peace process since 1997 Bougainville is seen to drift off track from the values that were suppressed thus leading to the 10 year Bougainville crisis since 1988 with the sole reason to please donors since it is financially not equipped and also to please the very culprit, PNG, that inherited all the game rules and concepts from colonial masters to abuse the Bougainville people of Solomon Islands.


With Bougainville Manifesto 7 identifying exploitation, indoctrination and genocide as the tools of killing the Bougainville nation out of the Pacific by PNG and its cronies, Bougainvilleans should now focus on creating a democratically accepted protectionist regime within the autonomy arrangements and even into its future political journey after the referendum constitutionally scheduled to be held between 2015 and 2020.


Protectionism— that is defined by Oxford Dictionary as ‘theory or practice of shielding a country’s domestic industries from foreign competition by taxing imports’—is so economical but for Bougainville it should be aligned to economical, political and social aspects of the running of Bougainville government by Bougainvilleans—in whatever form it is.


Bougainville needs to protect and defend itself from the three lethal injections: exploitation, indoctrination and genocide that PNG was endowed with by colonization to deprive Bougainville from its identity and dignity; and denied to attain the maximum benefit from all its resources.  


How could Bougainville shield its land and people from PNG backed exploitation? Under the autonomy status of Bougainville the very people, state and organizations that Bougainville had long resisted causing the loss of some 15 thousand of its people since 1988 are now rushing back to the unprotected and vulnerable island and people in the name of developing Bougainville.


Most of these parasites, though, a backed by short-minded and lazy Bougainvilleans to do business and so on simply because they are not interested in a self-reliant Bougainville in the future. And bodies associated with law making powers and scams and liars with personal interest have to have a say here.


Under the autonomy, the Bougainville Constitution, Section 24 (1) states that: In order to facilitate development, private initiative and self-reliance shall be encouraged. But to this day, the ABG and all Bougainvilleans have failed. ABG solely looks at multinational companies to start up impact projects that are the basis of exploitation across all Third World states; and individual Bougainville citizen allow foreigners like those few Asians business protected by police on Buka town to rob them.


In the period when Bougainville is said ironically as financially incompetent, Bougainville has the right to intermarry Bougainville Constitution’s Section 23 and 24 to make good use of its vast natural resources. For example, only the cocoa can boost the internal revenue of Bougainville economy if Bougainville gets all non-Bougainville cocoa buyers such as Agmark and Monpi out and formulate its own company that is 100% Bougainvillean.


Such demands were placed to ABG by the ex-combatants of Central Bougainville in Post Courier of 9 October, 2013 (pg 23). It says that businesses the ABG must protect for Bougainvilleans include:

Retail trading, including trade stores, canteens and takeaway food bars or eateries ,Supermarkets, liquor supply and import including brewery and distillation of liquor, Guest houses and hotels up to three star status, Wholesaling and merchandizing in any white goods, consumables and building hardware materials, Fuel supplies and fuel stations, including import of oil products, Alluvial mining and gold trading, Commodity exports of cocoa and copra primary and secondary products, Cocoa and coconut plantations and other cash crop development, Dealings in handicrafts and artifacts including the export of such items, Timber production and exports, PMV and freight transport including trucking and earth moving, Marine products extraction and exports, Fisheries and fish exports, Tourism and tour operators; Any manufacturing, including cottage industries with cash capital value of K100 million or less is also prohibited and exclusively reserved for Bougainvilleans, Partnerships and joint ventures in any of the above activities are prohibited.

Upholding such a call from concerned fighters is a key step forward to minimize exploitation on Bougainville and rise the internal revenue generation high as Bougainville learns the basic of running business on a conducive environment protected by a responsible government.

This also is the strategy for Bougainville to fight indoctrination and genocide and key here is to create an independent education curriculum for Bougainville.

Under PNG rule of Bougainville, Bougainvilleans have lost their identity as Solomon Island people over the years of domination since the known  Anglo-German Declaration 1886 and Anglo-German Convention 1899 pointed by a Raspal Khosa 1992 thesis, The Bougainville Secession Crisis, 1964-1992: Melanesians, Missionaries, and Mining, that separated their island from the British Solomon Islands which was their rightful place.

Thus the Bougainville government as it staggers towards referendum has the enormous tasks in partnership to design a education curricula suitable for the post-war Bougainville population to learn why and how their island faced a long history of struggle for self determination; through such learning Bougainville needs to know it political, cultural, geographical, economic and social history.

From this knowledge then a link to anti-genocide move to preserve the identity of Bougainville people can be reached to avoid Bougainvilleans to engage on paths of self-destruction.

Bougainville music identity is fast becoming PNG Tolai rock in sharp contradiction to their root Solomon Island and long influence of heavy metal music; Bougainville’s God given skin color is being fast redskinize by PNG people through marriage in the name of democracy and human rights; insane Bougainvilleans falsely accept their classification under New Guinea Islands Region (NGI) of PNG as rightful when it is not and yet it’s a way still of negation of a unique Bougainville people.

Such illicit acts on Bougainville people are not crimes in the eyes of the world order but to save Bougainville identity and dignity; and stand firm against exploitation, indoctrination and genocide, Bougainville has to inflict pain in a short period of time to live a long happiness future.

Only protectionism in politics, culture and economy could pave the way for Bougainvilleans to see and re-possess the lost values of Bougainville identity and dignity and to build a better and prosperous Bougainville.  

After all Bougainville is a tiny island and people in the midst of the Pacific Ocean and in need of protection to enjoy and promote its own uniqueness and place in the world in the face of globalization and other known dangers and challenges.  



Bougainville Manifesto 11: Truth & Reconciliation

Leonard Fong Roka

In fact, Bougainvilleans narrow mindedly celebrate June 15 annually, as a day that some form of political establishment empowered by the multilateral peace process since 1997, was achieved. The peace process paved the way for the vital services and goods Bougainville missed under the Australia-backed PNG blockade of the island since 1990.

Bougainville Manifesto 7 (2013) rightfully claimed that the Bougainville crisis was the result of foreigners’ disrespect of the Bougainville nation:

Under the stinging colonial administration of British, Germans, Australians and the Japanese Bougainville faced the worst ruthless exploitation. Oral history and written records highlights a wide range of subjections. Bougainvilleans were cheap laborers, sexual subjects, human commodities in black birding and isolated bystanders of their wealth [exploitation].

They stood by as their plantations were servicing colonial masters and PNG laborers shipped in boatfuls; they were forced to despise their traditions and swallow western religions and other secular ideologies without a chance to voice their epistemological views about their land. Bougainvilleans were used to destroy their own land and life.

Worst case is the Australian and PNG exploitation of Bougainville minerals in Panguna to fund the development of PNG and not Bougainville.

Parallel to exploitation, indoctrination is denying Bougainvilleans their right to progress for the better. In my PNG ATTITUDE article, A mission to articulate what makes us Bougainvillean (September 2013), outlined my islanders fate as: ‘But PNG’s seven million people do not acknowledge the distinctive qualities of Bougainville’s 200,000 people but rather indoctrinates them to pave the way for exploitation and eventual genocide.

The fate for Bougainvilleans starts from the PNG Constitution. The very first line in the Preamble, “We, the People of Papua New Guinea— united in one nation…” is the foundation of indoctrination of Bougainville people.

This is the truth behind the Bougainville conflict (1988-1997) that most literature narrowly blames on the unequal distribution of BCL money and BCL’s environmental carnage. To most today, if only the BCL was operating in an independent Bougainville or in the Solomon Islands, Bougainville should not have such a long years of violence of disruption.

And the Bougainville crisis history well proofs it. When Bougainvilleans stood up with lethal weapons for their rights over their land and culture, the tycoons PNG, Australia and BCL were so hostile to the islanders as the SBS correspondent Brian Thomson’s film, Blood and Treasure (2009) shows it that the BCL with interest on Bougainville minerals ‘encouraged the continuation of the blockade for the purposes of starving the bastards out’. Bougainvilleans were bastards to BCL and PNG!

PNG, though re-invited under the Kavieng Agreement 1990 (from Outline History of the Bougainville Conflict) after it fled in mid-1990, was on Bougainville with the will to re-open the Panguna mine since its politicians could not sleep without Panguna rolling to keep their economy steaming.

Having the Bougainville Manifesto 7 noting the problems external forces at on Bougainvillean land and people, there is a greater influence on the 10 year Bougainville crisis from the numerous cultural aspects or systems known in Bougainville.

Bougainville has some 20-40 languages, that when judging from the understandings of Francis M. Deng’s writings, Ethnicity: An African Predicament (1997) where he wrote on Africa: ‘Traditionally, African societies and even states functioned through an elaborate system based on the family, the lineage, the clan, the tribe, and ultimately a confederation of groups with ethnic, cultural, and linguistic characteristics in common. These were the units of social, economic, and political organizations and inter-communal relations’ saw long conflicting results and efforts in the struggle for self determination and nationhood.

Each of these Bougainvillean societies had its own way of acting and thinking; each also had its own pace in transition into the Eurocentric changes that happened on Bougainville since July 1768 (Bougainville Manifesto 2). Each society had its own perception of each other as they watched development taking place in each respective area. Modernization sped in Central Bougainville with the development of the Panguna mine; this was not at the same pace, for example with Buin, that only watched as the Kieta people were advancing; or the Nagovis people who were receiving all the debris from the Panguna mind as they watching the Kieta people raising their standard of living with mine royalties.

This could be the reason why, when Kieta people created the Napidakoe Navitu as a body to create unity across Bougainville in 1969; so many local government councils saw it as a threat to their powers as noted by Mamak & Bedford (1974) as, ‘Moreover, Navitu’s growing strength was perceived by some council leaders outside the association’s immediate area of influence [especially Kieta] as a challenge to their authority.’ Such led to the slow diminish of the group towards to end of the 1970s.

Such differences amongst Bougainvilleans did not only exist across the language groups, was also in the midst of a single language groups also in the late 1980s. In my PNG Attitude article, The Intertwined Roots of the Bougainville Conflict (2011) it was written that ‘Bougainvilleans came to see each other differently; mountain people as ‘backwards’ and coastal people as ‘progressive’ in response to the developing mission, plantation and Panguna mine in Kieta.

This was never reconciled by positive development or progress in terms of equity and equality in the likes of services in education that could have fostered unity for the entire Bougainville population since BCL and PNG were only exploiting and suppressing Bougainville and not developing the owners of the wealth.

So in 1988, Bougainvilleans of the Kongara area attacked the redskin plantations laborers who had raped and killed a local woman in the Aropa Plantation and so the Bougainvilleans of Panguna saw it fit also, to rebel against BCL and the PNG government. So when the redskins fled into Arawa, the young men with their new fighting skills entered the anti-mining movement in Panguna.

The young fighters had not met a central authority educating them for the cause they were to fight for and controlling them before. Apart from the central figure of militancy, Francis Ona, who was gaining his power and prestige from the massive media coverage and respect the authorities of the day—North Solomons Provincial Government and the PNG national government—were giving him, individual BRA member was gaining prestige and power from the way he behaved in combat against the government security forces.

Thus when the 1990 ceasefire was reached, there was already two forces that could naturally repel each other. This led to chaos since both parties had conflicting interest in the fight they had saw as being won as my PNG Attitude article, BRA was the root of the bloody civil conflict on Bougainville (2012) that said:

To the late Francis Ona and his followers, closing down the Panguna mine was the bliss that blinded them. Keeping order and governing Bougainville was neglected. Thus the BRA recklessness grew and spread.

The BRA men, most of them illiterate, went astray grabbing private and ex-BCL property, looting shops and exploiting women often with the gun.

These unorganized BRA bands falsely accused innocent people of being PNG spies and tortured them. Others were accused of sorcery and killed.

The politically incompetent Francis Ona was nowhere to be seen or heard in this anarchy created under his name.

I was hearing that the BRA’s ill treatment of innocent Bougainvilleans was executed under the ‘standing orders’ of Ona. But this was a lie as I heard later that Ona was not aware of any ‘standing orders’ and he was not responsible for the suffering endured by Bougainvilleans.

The BRA posed as a body with a central command fighting for Bougainville freedom when in fact it hosted dozens of independent individuals or bands [that] operated at will across Bougainville.

 Since all Bougainvillean societies had own characteristics and view to modernization and other changes of the 21st century, the BRA impact was perceived in their own ways of thinking resulting in reviving old problems leading into the 10 year civil conflict that resulted in the loss of 20 thousand lives from Buka to Buin.

With the highlight profiled so far starting off from Bougainville Manifesto 1 (2013), there is some degree of light to pinpoint who was at fault and why. And for Bougainville it was a multi-headed sword thus, for Bougainville to attain lasting peace for their island home, they have to concentrate on the domestic peace effort and not run to reconcile wounds with any non-Bougainvillean entities.

Unity and peace should the established on home soil first then Bougainville looks elsewhere for peace making opportunities.

The Bougainville peace process that began since 1997 was all commercialized by the top-leaders of the peace efforts. Only big issues concerning big people were looked into and the little people were ignored. The resulting outcomes are the continuous negative problems faced by Bougainville.  

Thus Bougainville needs a peace process that is from the heart from a Bougainvillean to a fellow Bougainville he had harmed.

The peace effort on Bougainville should begin from nowhere but the Panguna area for the crimes against Bougainvilleans and each other since 1988 to 1990. Leaders associated with the creation of the Bougainvillean Revolutionary Army (BRA) and their soldiers should admit to the people of Kieta and later Bougainville as a whole their failure in strategic leadership, their crimes committed with self interest and pride, and so on.

More people and the former BRA men turn to narrowly and in denial of all the rot they had done to us and divided us by also putting some blame on the pro-PNG resistance, Bougainville Resistant Force (BRF), but with time, the BRF were new comers in response to the cruelty and injustice the BRA did to us. The BRA created its own enemy the BRF during the crisis.

Panguna leaders and Kieta BRA have to expose to the people why they created the BRA and where did they went wrong; why did they steal from people; why did they rape Bougainville mothers; why did they disobeyed the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG); why did they did extrajudicial killings and torture; why did they use propaganda on people and so on.

This should be the Panguna rebel politicians and the Kieta BRA apologizing to the Kieta people from village to village and family to family; from Kieta they should be going from district to district, again down from village to village till the whole Bougainville is covered. This process is not that simple since the Panguna leaders and their Kieta BRA had inflicted paid on individuals, families, villages, clans and districts that even the peace process that started off since 1997 had ignored it under the influence of corruption.

Once the Panguna leaders and the Kieta BRA admits all its wrongs then all others, the BRAs and leaders from other districts of Bougainville and the BRF to follow the same process of reconciliation with the Panguna leaders and Kieta BRA as the mediators.

This peace exercise needs a powerful leader and a Bougainville government that educates and holds all Bougainvilleans under its wings for a free independent Bougainville.


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Students Frustration on Bougainville Government

Leonard Fong Roka

As shock and fear of the slaying of the Divine Word University’s Sepik student Nigel Laki and injury sustained by Ishmael Palipal and others holds every nerve on campus, Bougainville students cry that their government in Kubu has failed them by failing for so long from building them their own university on Bougainville where they have freedom and peace in their home island.

The number of Bougainvillean students entering Divine Word University is steadily increasing annually. For many of the 2014’s first year students they have made it here since DWU is making itself known as a hub of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in PNG that continuing students turn to promote when touring their secondary schools every November with the Bougainville Youth Foundation (BYF) awareness programs.   

For many first timers out of Bougainville, they know the ‘Beautiful Madang’ tag is a reality but just as their flight touches on the Madang airport, its unkempt vicinity and the standard of peoples’ dressing and housing in town and rugged commuters intimidating stares tells them that they had believed a lie.

Since arriving at DWU, over 11 students across the Madang Town’s tertiary institutions had been robbed by thugs in town. Two first year male students from DWU were repeatedly harassed and threatened with small kitchen knives in a bus ride from town to DWU main campus for their shopping cargo till one of them punched the thief in the neck choking him and darted into the DWU main gate. Another student from Madang Teachers College was withdrawing cash from an ATM in town when a rascal held him up inside the outlet and walked away with his K2000 school fee cash.

In another incident, encountered by Bougainville students away from the safety and peace of their island, a trio of Madang Technical College students were pick pocketed in town but they attacked the child rascals. However a bigger criminal mob was getting on them and they have to run for safety and rush back to school.

“This is really a strange place,” one of the pair harassed in the bus ride to DWU, said. “And thank God the crisis chased these rascals out of our island. I have gleaned even without any cash on hand they are there wandering around their town looking for opportunities to rob us.”

In a informal gathering outside the AJ Hall (pictured) as they waited for the funeral service to start Bougainvillean students were sharing all the things they are seeing and experiencing that are of real contradiction to their island home, Bougainville.

To them, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) must use all that funding that the PNG government is giving to build a university in Bougainville so they can transfer and complete their education back home.

A female student was saying, “I am fed up with our members in Port Moresby and Buka for not building us a university back home and ignorantly letting us attend this crime infested place. I had bad night with all those police gunfire last night and this morning. Hate to be here.”

Another shared, “The ivitu (redskins in Buin) love to kill each other and so all of us boys must try to avoid all these life-threatening developments. We have suffered enough and we are here to get an education and return home to remove all those old leaders who are not functioning well.”

Students also ran through a list of their fellow students slain or disadvantaged through past and recent history everywhere in PNG as they told their final year students that they have to go home and get into positions that have say in policy making and prepare their way after completing their studies in DWU.

To all Bougainvillean students the ABG must now speed up the development of standard technical and teachers colleges and universities back in Bougainville since they are fed up coming into PNG to be harmed.

They have waited and got frustrated for a university said by the Catholic Church at Mabiri in Central Bougainville. But they are happy that colleges as in Tinputz, Koromira, Mabiri and so on that give a little trade skill to Bougainvillean youths.

They are also excited of the development of a technical school and a teachers college in Buin, South Bougainville. But all have a collective concerned that non-Bougainvilleans must not be allowed into Bougainville to create the slums and deprive them from their own land as it was before 1989.

All laughed when one student rose and said: “Boys if you want a wife now that you are a university student, find your wife in this family and girls, do the same too; a thing from Bougainville must return back to Bougainville.”