In 1995 when the PNG security forces were carrying out operation high speed 1 and tried to forcible reopen land in the closed Panguna mine as BCL was in crisis. It was reported by coconut news [a local way of passing news around the bush camps] that seven security force members were shot dead by BRAs up at Panguna. Bougainvillean’s in Central, especially around the Panguna and Arawa area were told by BRAs not to leave the jungle bases or bush camps as we called them in those days.
During the height of the war when a security force member was killed by BRAs they would kill for payback any black Bougainvilleans they saw with their eyes. This led to the loss of so many innocent Bougainvilleans during the war.
Bana was the strong big old man and a chief who some where along the way somehow got in touch with PNG Security forces based at Kiriano near Rumba SDA mission station. He and his sons always went to Kiriano and came back to the bush camps with rice and tin foods without the knowledge of the local area BRAs till later. He build a relationship with the security forces and believed in his heart that not anything would happen to him or his sons as they knew them.
Four young man from the village, Ben Tavekau the oldest son of Bana the chief and his grandson Ferrol Isaw plus Jim and John for maybe medical reasons to their families went to go down to Arawa to get some kind of medical assistance. As in the mountain jungle bases and bush camps there were no medicine only natural herbs for those who believe it and can survive other wise it’s the survival of the fittest.
The Mangotoro villagers all gathered stopping them from going down to Arawa as it’s the risky week; they might be killed for payback for the seven soldiers killed. My elder brother shared tears of sorrow for John Ono who had been working with him as technical advisor in the village council of chiefs. He knew that he wouldn’t see him again for the rest of his life.
The villagers cried trying to stop them but Bana the chief told them that the Security forces knew him and not anything would happen to them. They all said prayers and good byes before they went to Arawa. It was reported by coconut news that they were shot on different locations. The people from other villages who were staying in Loloho care centre later told Mangotoro villagers that Jim was shot in Loloho in front of the eyes of the villagers at the care centre by the platoon of soldiers returning back from Panguna.
Bana the chief moans his eldest son and grandson for weeks and months and became a chief with no Indians and unknown till his death. The parents, relatives and villagers moaned for the four as well and thought that if they had listened to small villagers voices they would be living today, but the war took them all.