In the 1960s when the exploration was carried out and the mining company came in, the women, the mothers of the land cried out and they were kicked and draged along the beach by the police. The mine was forced down on them without listening to their cries.
ON the 6th of April women [mothers] from around Bovonari and Kerenari just outside of Arawa Township gathered at Mari mari haus lotu in Arawa. The main agenda was all the talk in the media about re-opening Panguna mine. I was invited to film them by Marta the woman who organised the meeting. When I went there I saw Meekamui General Chris Uma standing on the door listening to the meeting.
I asked the ladies if I could take their pictures and they all agreed.
Among them was the women’s representative from Bougainville Tresa Jaitong, who is also the person from the Arawa Landowners Group who used to meet with the pro-mining Panguna landowners association. She told the women that all they talked about during the meetings, which Regional member F Semoso organised, was not about re-opening the mine. They talked more about how to go about it and be organised when the time comes for the bigger meeting with BCL. She stated that the landowners themselves don’t held any meetings, only when F.Semoso called a meeting they came together.
Ms Jaitong mentioned about Papua New Guineans and Westerners, who are coming into Bougainville in numbers, that they created squatter settlements before the war and been a pain in the neck for the Bougainvilleans especially for the women from this two areas. She told the women that they must talk to their respective members in the ABG to put some kind of restrictions as that is one of the factors of the war.
The mothers voice out their concern to Ms Jaitong that the original demand of K10 billion is still standing and they don’t want the re-opening of the mine. We are free and happy now not like before. We live on food from the land not on money, where will we go when the mining destroys our land? One mother says that the BRAs from South, Central and North blood are not paid, so why go for the re-opening of the mine?
They want their land not mining, and they don’t want the ABG, PNG and BCL to force the mine on them again.
A good thinking Bougainvillean leader should care about land and not money, 99% live from farming on Bougainville.
In the end General Uma told them that if they try to re-open the mine with out listening to us, than we will have a job: that is fighting with who ever tries to re-open the mine. This is the last option, but in the long run we don’t want to fight anymore, therefore leaders should talk about other investments rather than Panguna mine.