Bougainville, perspectives on a crisis

Author/s (editor/s):

Peter Polomka, Francis Ona, Rabbie Namaliu, Moses Havini, John Connell, Eugene Ogan, Ric Smith, Matthew Neuhaus

Publication year:

1990

Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 66

In June 1989, Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Rabbie Namaliu declared a National Emergency on Bougainville Island, North Solomons Province. He did so, he said, to 'bring about an early end to the killing, the violence and the destruction and disruption' caused by a group of militants who threatened 'the unity of our nation, the economic stability if the North Solomons and the country as a whole'. Late in 1988, a rebel landowners' group led by Francis Ona had begun to resort to violence in pursuit of claims for greater compensation for the impact of mining at the island's Panguna mine operated since 1972 by Bougainville Copper Limited. According to Mr Ona, the rebels also sought to break away from Papua New Guinea as the only way to 'save the lives of our people in Bougainville'.

In a series of contributions, this monograph canvasses the differing perspectives on the crisis of those involved in the events as well as of outside observers. It examines key issues of concern to landowners affected by the mine, the provincial and central governments, and the operators of the mine. It also reviews aspects of Australian interest in developments. The monograph provides essential reading for an understanding of the complex issues involved and the difficulties facing those seeking to resolve the crisis.

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