bougainville copper mine conflict

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January 8, 2018

bougainville copper mine conflict

This humiliation was further compounded in September when 12 PNGDF soldiers were killed and a further five taken hostage at their camp at Kangu beach in south Bougainville and a month later, in October, when Theodore Miriung was assassinated by elements of the military using a vehicle disguised as an ambulance. Burghley Yard, 106 Burghley Road, London NW5 1AL, Company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (03196482), Charity registered in England and Wales (1055436), Safeguarding, transparency and other policies, Constitutional accommodation and conflict prevention, A Bougainville Interim Government perspective on early peace efforts, From Burnham to Buin: Sowing the seeds of peace in the land of the snow-capped mountains, The role of women in promoting peace and reconciliation, Resolving two dimensions of conflict: The dynamics of consent, consensus and compromise, ‘Joint Creation’: The Bougainville Peace Agreement - and beyond, Key points of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, Aid as an instrument for peace: A civil society perspective, The role of the United Nations Observer Mission, Reflections on the Truce Monitoring Group, Making, building and sustaining peace by peaceful means, Key texts and agreements: Accord Papua New Guinea. In 1990, Prime Minister Rabbie Namaliu of Papua New Guinea agreed to pull Papuan troops out, and for international observers to witness the disarmament of the BRA. Burghley Yard, 106 Burghley Road, London NW5 1AL, © Conciliation Resources Charity registered in England and Wales (1055436), Peacebuilding NGO Supporting People Affected by Conflict. Economically, the most obvious income stream for the resource-rich area is mining, but that would involve revisiting the issues that started the bloody conflict in … 'We are generally peace-loving, law-abiding people. For Bougainvilleans, their sense of separateness – physical, cultural and emotional – from Papua New Guinea had been fuelled by their particular experience of this policy; the presence of the giant copper mine and the use of the wealth it generated to pay for the development of the young nation-state. The Bougainville Conflict. They are destroying people's property, shooting cars, destroying their food gardens. But overall, Chan's faith in the Bougainvillean leadership's willingness to negotiate was never quite restored, nor did he ever really trust Miriung, who was not afraid to speak out against the atrocities still being committed by the PNGDF – like the summary execution of eight young men at the Pokarai care centre in the north-west of Bougainville in June 1996. The Panguna copper mine was operated by Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), owned by Conzinc Riotinto of Australia (CRA), an Australian subsidiary of the British mining company Rio Tinto-Zinc. In July the next year, under increasing pressure from Chan, he was put to the test launching 'Operation High Speed II' before flying off to Australia leaving his men to flounder and be slaughtered as they were comprehensively defeated on Aropa beach. That is why Oceania rarely makes world news, which local populations accustomed to living a quiet life are probably fairly content with. On September 16, 1975, Papua New Guinea (PNG) gained independence from Australia and became an independent state. At present we have been blamed for the lawlessness in the province. As the violence spread, in Port Moresby and Canberra the race was on to vilify Ona, first as a disgruntled former employee, then as a 'hysterical extremist' and finally as 'mad' or even dead. When members of these Highland-hardened squads raided villages and torched houses on the mine access road and committed other human rights abuses, Bougainvilleans were not cowed. More noble intents led the Catholics, in 1902, to Bougainville but the advent of the Missionaries of the Catholic Society of Mary, or Marists as they were commonly known, had their own impact on Bougainvilleans' traditional ways. The costs of the ensuing conflict, sometimes called the Bougainville Civil War, were immense. High winds and strong currents forced the French explorer to make other plans that night, in 1768, when he anchored just off the coast of Buka, the smaller of the two main islands of Bougainville. The Bougainville civil war raged for a decade after indigenous landowners, incensed by environmental devastation and inequities associated with the Rio Tinto majority-owned Panguna copper mine, waged an armed campaign to shut the mine down. Instead, the defeat of Germany in World War I saw Bougainville annexed to Australia's New Guinea territories and after an initial, unsuccessful bid for independence, the island was subsumed into the state of Papua New Guinea, which gained its independence in 1975. Speculation about the future of the Panguna copper mine in Papua New Guinea’s autonomous region of Bougainville, which ignited a decade long civil war in the 1990s, peaked late last year when an application for exploration by former Rio Tinto subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), was put to a local vote. In 1988, locals on Bougainville Island began killing the migrant copper workers. It was a time of terror, of wild unrestrained violence by a security force that had been sent to do an impossible job. Sofia Pale, Ph.D. of Historical Sciences, research associate with the Center for South-East Asia, Australia and Oceania at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”. As people now tend to say, Oceania is the “soft underbelly” of Australia and New Zealand. The introduction of Australian and New Guinean workers caused resentment and the exploitation of the mine became increasingly intertwined with issues of indigenous identity. The mine was once the world's largest open pit copper gold mine generating over 40% of PNG's GDP. As the end of his term loomed in 1996, with nothing to show on Bougainville but death and defeat, Julius Chan had run out of ideas. By the time Julius Chan became the third Papua New Guinean prime minister to deal with the crisis in August 1994, hundreds of lives had been lost and thousands more spoiled. The copper mining on Bougainville Island was carried out by Bougainville Copper Limited of PNG, a subsidiary of the Australian-British Rio Tinto Group. 'From today Bougainville shall be forever a sovereign, democratic and independent nation.' The army quit as agreed, but then a decision by the Commissioner of Police and Controller of the State of Emergency, Paul Tohian, to withdraw the last thin line of ordinary officers on the ground, left Papua New Guinea without a single government official, politician or member of the security forces on the island. The occupation of the island by the PNGDF had begun and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army had been born unleashing a wave, not only of politically motivated violence, but a ragtag criminal element of their precursors, the 'Rambos' who used the crisis to commit atrocities in its name. Apart from copper, there is also gold, other valuable metals, and a certain amount of oil to be found on Bougainville Island. The mine was officially mothballed on 7 January 1990 but early negotiations led in March 1990 to a ceasefire being declared. We draw on our shared experiences to influence policies and improve peacebuilding practice worldwide. It was the most serious conflict in the south Pacific since World War II. Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) is a mining company of Papua New Guinea (PNG) that is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Although publicly he persisted with peace talks, at the end of the year, Chan appointed a new commander to the PNGDF, the young colonel who had led Wingti's ill-fated 'High Speed' the year before. As the 1990s progressed, anarchy bred anarchy and conflict spread throughout the island's communities and language groups. Only much later and quite reluctantly did these loyalties widen to their broader language groups, let alone to a national identity. Many innocent people, old people, women and children are being slaughtered.'. The conflict was sparked by an Australian-run gold and copper mine, then the world’s largest. cr@c-r.org It was in 1882 that the first traces of copper, the substance that was to so define the island's future, were found after a ship's surgeon, attached to a British expedition to Solomons Islands, H.B.Guppy, managed to collect some ore from south-east Bougainville and declare 'copper will not improbably be found in association with these islands'. The separatist fighters once again declared the North Solomon Islands an independent state, and halted operations at the copper mine pending its nationalization. The introduction of Australian and New Guinean workers caused resentment and the exploitation of the mine became increasingly intertwined with issues of indigenous identity. Operating completely outside of the PNG constitution but with local knowledge and kinship, they were to become one of the state's most effective 'weapons'. What Ona is fighting for is that everybody, right down to the last born, should get compensation because our traditions have been broken and we will not be able to pass anything down to them.' For two decades (1972-1988) prior, the island played host to one of the world’s largest copper-gold mines, run by Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL). The following year the first call for a referendum, including the option of secession, was made by a group of Bougainvilleans students who, meeting in Port Moresby, formed the Mungkas Association. And although there may not be many “hot” spots in Oceania, there are places where temperatures are far higher than the regional “average”. Technology was changing; an open-cut mine of the scale which was being planned for Bougainville had never been tried before. However, the young state of Papua New Guinea also had plans for Bougainville’s resources, and has sent a group of police over to the island. Islanders were driven off the land to make room for mining operations. Already the mine had been shut down, 16 people had died – three of them soldiers. Members of Francis Ona's Nasioi language group living on the coast of Kieta told the visitors that they were unhappy with Australian rule. Panguna was an experiment that would one day become the 'biggest jewel in the RTZ crown,' but also its greatest curse. PNG independence followed. Apart from copper, there is also gold, other valuable metals, and a certain amount of oil to be found on Bougainville Island. As part of this strategy, China is doing everything it can to increase the influence it has in the region’s small and underdeveloped states, primarily through economic cooperation. War broke out between Bougainville secessionist forces, primarily the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, and the PNG government. We are fighting to save our land from foreign exploitation.' Until then the island's inhabitants had lived in small tribes, organised into households based on extended families, and their loyalties lay within these small groups. The Marists brought with them a system of beliefs, which would gradually release many communities from this tyranny. In 1997, negotiations mediated by New Zealand began between the PNG government and secessionist leaders. The countries in Oceania are no exception, including Papua New Guinea, where Beijing has made its presence felt, and the number of Chinese citizens in PNG has increased significantly in recent years. The Bougainville Copper Project in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea ran from 1966 to 1973 and cost some US$350 million. By the time Sandline's front man, Tim Spicer, first saw the Panguna mine in early 1997, it was overgrown with almost a decade of disuse. Matters weren't helped three years later, in 1965, when the Australian minister for External Territories, Charles Barnes, put in an appearance on the island only to abruptly declare that the Nasioi, as the owners of the proposed mine site, could expect exactly 'nothing' for their land but would have to be content with the standard paltry compensation for lost properties such as houses and coconut palms. The post mortem examination found his spinal column had been completely severed. Jerry Singirok, with the job of commander dangling before his eyes, had assured Chan, privately, that he could do what no commander before him had managed – subdue the BRA and take control of Bougainville once again. Conciliation Resources is an international organisation committed to stopping violent conflict and creating more peaceful societies. Seemingly unaware of this growing backlash, in Port Moresby the Cabinet of Prime Minster Rabbie Namaliu approved a call-out by the PNG Defence Forces (PNGDF). 'Land to us is our lifeline and we cannot be separated from it,' Ona was to write in 1988 as he attempted to explain his anger and his despair. Inter-tribal warfare meant days marked by constant wariness, distrust and even death. Facing severe financial and logistic constraints the national government turned to the mine’s operator, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), and PNG’s principal international benefactor, Australia, to prop up the PNGDF. The peace agreement signed in 2001 in Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea (PNG), ended the most violent conflict in the South Pacific since World War Two. Following discovery of the Bougainville copper deposit in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 1964, Espie was appointed to manage the design, construction, financing and operation of the world’s largest copper mine. More were to follow. Apart from that, many labor migrants were brought to the island to work on the copper field, mostly Papua New Guineans who were not welcomed by the Bougainvilleans, as they perceived them as a threat. More than a century later, in 1889, an exchange of notes with the British brought Bougainville within Germany's sphere of influence. An abandoned Rio Tinto mine in the Bougainville region of Papua New Guinea has caused flooding as well as pollution, according to the Human Rights … They also brought education and new ideas, different from the colonial powers. Australia now has the opportunity to start developing relations with Bougainville “from scratch”, and negotiate mining on the island under more reasonable terms for Bougainville. It was not an absolute victory for the BRA nor was it a conclusive defeat for the government but from now on the Government only had two choices as to how it might return – with the permission of the BRA or by invasion. The blockade, which was enforced by Australian-donated patrol boats, largely succeeded. There was never good synergy between Australia and its colonial charges on Bougainville, but the American priests were living proof of an alternative authority to the rough-shod Australian administration. The conflict showed no signs of ending, and in January 1990, Bougainville Copper announced the mothballing of the Panguna mine. The more the Australian administration insisted upon the construction of the copper mine – for the sake of the future state of Papua New Guinea they said – the more the issue of the mine and Bougainville's future political status became inextricably mixed. Havini, 'The long struggle for the independence of Bougainville' (Bougainville Freedom Movement, Sydney n.d.). The conflict spread throughout the island and lasted a decade. On Bougainville the opposition to Port Moresby's rule was to grow so hard and fast that when a leading provincial politician, Hon John Bika, prepared a 'compromise' in 1989 that would have granted Bougainville a much greater level of autonomy, the solution devised by a hard core element of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army was to assassinate him in front of his family in the dead of the night. In 1962, a United Nations mission visited Bougainville. Amnesty International. Vying for economic and political influence in the young state and for access to its resources may now become a new area of rivalry between China and the West, which has already colonized the entire region in the past. The conflict which sparked this ongoing injustice began in November 1988. Simon Kenema, ‘An analysis of post-conflict explanations of indigenous dissent relating to the Bougainville copper mining conflict, Papua New Guinea’, Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies, Issues 1.2 and 2.1, April 2010 . From 1988 to 1998 the most violent conflict in the Pacific region since the Second World War erupted on the islands of Bougainville, now an autonomous region in Papua New Guinea. As to landowner grievances, see John Conncll, 'Compensation and conflict: the Bougainville Copper mine in Papua New Guinea', inJohn Connell and Richard Howitt (eds), Mining and Indigenous Peoples in Australasia (Sydney 1991), 55-75. Strapping the helicopters with machine guns, the army had easily converted the gifts into gunships. Horizons of the Growing British-Turkish Alliance, Sino-Vietnamese Relations and the Mission of Russia, American Advances, Indian and Chinese Money Force Sri Lanka into Difficult Choice, On the Ministerial Meeting for Participants in the “Quad”, On the Trade and Military Agreement between Iran and China, The Latest 2+2 Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN). The United States will also want to become Bougainville’s key partner before China gets there first. They railed against the national government. The Panguna mine on Bougainville Island, one of the world’s largest copper deposits, began production in 1972, shortly before the RNS declared independence, and the new state knew how to provide for itself. On September 1, 1975, however, just before PNG gained independence, Bougainville and the other islands which were to later form the Autonomous Region of Bougainville declared themselves the Republic of the North Solomons (RNS), independent of both Australia and PNG. Bougainville’s independence is a good opportunity for Australia and its joint mining corporation with the UK, Anglo-Australian multinational Rio Tinto, to regain access to the island’s resources and develop them again. The principals of Sandline International, a London-based private military company began their first approaches to the desperate leaders of PNG. Australian accents echoed through the offices of Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) and drifted across the tennis courts of Arawa in the neat, flat coastal capital which had been purpose-built to service the mine. They accused Bougainville Copper Ltd., of being responsible for poisoning the entire length of the Jaba River, and causing birth defects, as well as the … Australia will most likely have to make Bougainville a seriously attractive offer, given the current situation in the region. The 'merciless intrusion' of CRA continued unabated. Everyone can be a peace champion! In 1989 in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, a copper mine co-owned by an Australian mining company and the PNG government became the focus of conflict. A new report by the Human Rights Law Centre in Australia details the continuing devastation wrought by a copper and gold mine that closed more than 30 years ago in the Papua New Guinean territory of Bougainville. Former employee of the company Bougainville Copper Limited and Bougainville native, Francis Ona, came to lead the resistance against the Panguna mine, and in turn the resistance for independence from Papua New Guinea. Claiming to speak on behalf of all Bougainvilleans affected by the huge copper mine that BCL had dug through his ancestral lands, Ona had formed the 'New Panguna Landowners Association' and delivered an ultimatum to the company: pay up 10 billion kina (A$14.7 billion (1989 value)) in compensation for the impact of the mine, or else. Significantly Ona was also angry with the older generation of landowners – including his own uncle, Matthew Kove, who had disappeared in suspicious circumstances months earlier – for what Ona claimed was the misuse and unfair distribution of the landowners' share of royalties from the mine. US strategic security also depends on who controls this region. Taxes from BCL alone accounted for 16 per cent of the young nation's budget. 'The traditional system will never work again. This Accord examines the creative initiatives that helped to end the violence, and describes an indigenous peace process that drew on the strengths of Melanesian traditions. But all these years later, the vastness of the mine and the violence of its intrusion were still apparent; the majestic green folds of the Crown Prince Ranges suddenly splaying outwards to reveal a vast, dark wound. In June 1989 a 28-day State of Emergency was declared and the first of a decade of futile and often ill-conceived military actions – Operation Blueprint – was launched. Company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (03196482) Up to 20,000 people, or 10% of the population at the time, lost their lives. The Bougainville Civil War is considered the largest conflict to have occurred in Oceania since World War Two. They said no. The 10 year conflict was brutal and resulted in over 20,000 dead. Privacy Policy A schoolboy at Rigo High School, Francis Ona, watched as the first shipment of copper was loaded at the wharf. Panguna had only generated A$6.2 billion in sales in the past 16 years – but in doing so it had become the largest single source of revenue available to the PNG Government after Australian aid. Papua New Guinea's new independence constitution had limited traditional land ownership – the anchor of Melanesian traditions – to just below the surface of the soil and awarded mineral rights to the state. With their villages relocated and their lands despoiled by the wastes from the mine, by the time Francis Ona took up their cause, there were many women in Central Bougainville who felt completely disempowered in their role as land-owners. The Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed as a result in 2001, under which the North Solomon Islands became part of the Bougainville Autonomous Region, which gained its own autonomous government and received the right to hold an independence referendum. In a way Peter Tarupiu was one of the lucky ones. Following the discovery of vast copper ore deposits in Crown Prince Range, Bougainville Copper Limited (Bougainville Copper or the company) operated a large open pit mine and processing facility at Panguna in central Bougainville in the North Solomon’s Province of … Bougainvilleans, whether resentful of a clansman's prominence or coveting another's land, whether wishing to avenge the death of an antecedent or the despoiling of a female relative leapt into the lawless vacuum of civil strife, maiming and killing their own. But Bougainville Copper simply abandoned the site in the face of a landowner rebellion. It was April Fools Day 1972. Chan's first attempt to negotiate a comprehensive solution with the secessionists at the Arawa Peace Conference in October 1994 was not a resounding success, despite agreeing to their request for the United Nations to be present and cajoling the Australians into funding a small regional peacekeeping force. Bougainville Explained: How the world’s newest country might bloom out of protests against a copper mine The conflict in Bougainville and the desire of Bougainvillean people for independence is rooted in the historic plunder of the resource-rich island that has large deposits of copper and the unequal distribution of wealth that followed. Recognizing the results of the mine became increasingly intertwined with issues of indigenous identity BCL operated the mining. Women as they worked the garden or went fishing on the coast of Kieta told the that. The face of a landowner rebellion to 25 thousand people independent state student was repeatedly! Gardening, hunting and fishing costs of the massive profits generated by the PNG government and leaders. European contact, the army had easily converted the gifts into gunships, Espie engaged broadly and with... North Solomon Islands an independent state, and the bougainville copper mine conflict government and secessionist leaders pit gold... 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