I was up early on Thursday 1st of August to go to a funeral of my brother’s mother in-law, 7am I got a called from my fellow ex-combatants if am free to go with them to Buka and film the urgent meeting ABG had arranged for the Ex-Combatants from all corners of Bougainville. The comrades told me they didn’t give them any agenda for the meeting will be told when we get to Buka.
We were told until when we were in Hutjena high school hall on the 2nd of August. The workshop for the Ex-combatants about Reopening Panguna mine.
In his introduction the ABG President John Momis told the Ex-Combatants that many of you want to save our land and resources for the future generation however, what about us the old timers we want to get our share before our time is up too. He further stated that without reopening the mine referendum will be in question and we will be in a bad situation. [In Pidgin] bai umi bargarap olgeta. He didn’t realised when saying these that we were in a bad situation and just came out.
The main part was taken by one of the man who is funded by AusAid to draft the Bougainville mining law. However, it looks like he’s doing the job for Rio Tinto BCL from his presentation but denied working for BCL and Rio Tinto. Professor Ciaran O’Faircheallaigh tells the Ex-Combatants what needed before negotiating with BCL Rio Tinto for the possible reopening of the mine, Plus many good things that will come if the mine reopens. It’s quite strange because when the Landowners and the rest of Bougainvilleans were not aware, the leaders with their white advisors prepared all the materials and structure which means they want to force it down to the people by getting some kind of approval from the Ex-combatants.
Unfortunately, the prepared presentation didn’t went down well with many of us and it makes our two top former Commanders to get on their toes and challenge the Professor asking him where is the mining law for Bougainville. You are not telling us any good thing but you are talking about reopening the mine.
The workshop closed without what they expected from the Ex-combatants. The Ex-combatants wants the mining law first and the one that suits us and ours, we the resource owners have the upper hand and will benefit us together with our tomorrow’s children.
In September a friend of mine email me from Australia telling me they were given the draft Bougainville mining law to look at it and he asked me if we have a chance to have a look? I email him back and told him that law is for the white men who make it; all we want is Panguna to remain close.
While Momis and his band of white men are crazy to reopen the mine, the mothers of the land are crying for their land saying no to mining. So while talking about Panguna mine it will drag things on and may further causes disturbance to the peace building on the island. Why not leave Panguna alone?