Genocide in BougainvilleUp to 150 mercenaries have been hired by the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in preparation for an attack on the Bougainville rebels. The island of Bougainville has a population of 160,000 and is situated to the north of Australia, at the western end of the Solomon Islands archipelago. Although ethnically part of these islands too, power-broking by European colonial powers forced B'ville to come under PNG rule early this century. In 1969, the Australian owned CRA/RTZ copper mine at Panguna was forcibly established leaving 800 people homeless and a huge trail of environmental damage, destroying the subsidence living of gardening and fishing. The B'ville people have opposed the mine from day one and after 20 years of protesting without success, they forcibly closed the mine in 1988, using guerilla tactics. The PNG government, with Australia's support, responded by sending riot police then the army in its attempts to re-open the mine, which by then had become the most profitable in the world. Bougainvilleans then formed the B'ville Revolutionary Army (BRA) an declared themselves independent. The air and sea blockade imposed by PNG to isolate B'ville has claimed more than 10,000 lives, directly or otherwise. In terms of regaining control of the island, the military strategy has had less success as central B'ville, with around 100,000 people, is in the hands of the BRA who have displayed incredible ingenuity during the blockade, learning to make their own guns. Despite its claims to the contrary, Australia is heaily involved in the war, sending £150m annually and supplying training and equipment to the PNG army who've been intensifying their attacks of late. On Nov 26, 2 children were killed by PNG forces in the village of Bigisagu and on Nov 28, 9 people, including 4 kids, were killed by a mortar bomb which hit the Malabita care centre. 11 were massacred in a dawn rid a Mokakuru on Dec 1st. For info: Bougainville Freedom Movement (UK), c/o SDEF!, Prior House, Tilbury Place, Brighton, E Sussex; BFM, PO Box134, Erskineville, NSW 2043, Australia; http://www.magna.com.au/~sashab Thanks to SchNEWS.
PNG's the indigenous peoples in the other half of the island of Papua, West Papua, ceded to Indonesia in 1969, have themselves been resisting multi-national mining companies for the past 20 years. The Amungme people, amongst others, have resisted the destruction of their lands by Indonesia's biggest mining operation. The Grasberg opencast mine lies in the forested hills, exploiting the rich copper and gold deposits. It' s operated by an Indonesian subsidiary of the US company Freeport McMoran. WIth no consultation and only token compensation, the Amungme have lost their hunting grounds,, seen their crops ruined, their rivers poisoned and their sacred sites destroyed. 100s have been forcibly resettled in a crowded and unhealthy township. And now, due to a £500m investment by RTZ, the mine is set to expand by 300 times, covering an area the size of Wales. Hand in hand with the mine's development has been the brutal repression by the Indonesian army. In 1977, some Amungme people, aided by independence fighters, blew up a slurry pipeline. In retaliation, the military bombed entire villages. The government itself estimated that 900 people were killed. The outrages continue as evidenced by the murder of 11 Hoea villagers, including 5 women and children, by the Indonesian army on 31 May 95. Despite the repression, the resistane goes on and the mine was closed down for 3 days last year due to riots in the area. The Amungme have shown that they will not rest until the destruction of their land and the military repression is defeated. No justice, no peace.