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04 October 2012

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Phil, we have put up a copy on our research repository: http://statecrime.org/journal_article/state-crime-by-proxy-australia-and-the-bougainville-conflict/

All comments are welcome, naturally.

Phil - probably shouldn't say this, but you can get a trial account on EBSCO by pretending to be from a recognised Uni. A bit of creativity gets you the article.

Hell, outfits like this lock up all the interesting stuff anyway to make money. So much for academic freedom.

http://www.ebscohost.com/request-information

I tried the Australian National LIbrary's Trove as well as Jstor without success.

For a really edifying account of the crisis you could try Alexander Downer's "The Bougainville Crisis: An Australian Perspective". There are hundreds of remaindered copies around. It contains the full whitewash.

Phil, Kristian's full article is available on EBSCO (an academic journal hosting site).

Normally universities etc have to subscribe to this, but they have very reduced rates for institutions in developing countries.

UPNG library used to have a subscription, but I don't know whether this is still active. If so, PNG students could access it for free.

Worth checking with UNITECH, Goroka, PAU and DWU as well as the National Library.

This looks like a fascinating article that people in PNG like LFR should be able to read.

How can PNG people get a copy of the article to read without subscribing to BJC or paying $25 to read it for a day?
___________

Kristian, any ideas? - KJ

Ross Wilkinson, sadly that is not the case (I wish it were), Australia was very far from a neutral observer to the crimes so vividly described here by Leonard.

I interviewed senior officials from the ADF, the Australian High Commission, DFAT and the Department of Defence, and a few clear themes emerged.

1. Australia placed considerable pressure on the PNG government to ratchet up its counter-insurgency operations during 1989-1991.

2. They were cogent of the brutal tactics being employed by the PNGDF (including extra-judicial killings, village burnings, rape, torture, etc).

3. They provided considerable direct assistance to the PNGDF - specifically for the Bougainville operation.

4. ADF officers stationed in the High Commission and in line positions within the PNGDF, took an active role in the operation after a startling BRA offensive in early 1990.

5. Senior Australian Ministers denied points 1-4 in parliament, and before the media. Unfortunately the historical record remains uncorrected.

These research findings were published in the British Journal of Criminology - http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/52/4/705.abstract

Leonard keep up the good work, it is always fascinating to read new perspectives on this sad episode in Bougainville's history.

This story is oven fresh from the bush of Bougainville and any Bougainvillean who faced the sort of situation like me will love it.

Thanks for getting out what that has being bothering you for all this time for the world to see. I know you are a free man or woman now.

Without LFR you won't put out that bonding pain. If you are cursing me, it's up to you for you and me will go down the same route.

Okay, let's see this, 'time is slowly healing' problems in Bougainville.

To this: a freshly wounded man runs into an aidpost. On the out-patient table is a reel of bandage. He points to it and calls the nurse to wrap his wound but the nurse runs into the next room for dentol and tells him that she have to get rid of every germs or dirt in the wound then later comes the bandage.

The Bougainville peace process was a bandage wrapped over massive dirt and that is why Bougainville is still facing problems.

Everything has to be told for the future generations to be responsible by being an informed citizens of the past actions that affected Bougainville.

I am a single monster trying to get my stories out. I am getting my stories to the PNG Attitude through a Bougainvillean persona and that is why I am subjective.

To be objective means I am a stranger who did not have more then 5 lucky escapes from the PNGDF guns since 1989.

I write what I have grew up with. I tell stories that I heard, saw, experienced first-hand and of course, what I think the approach should be to address the situation.

If many Bougainvilleans are happy with my PNG Attitude writings and has ask me to go as far as Buin from my home-base in Kieta to collect their tales for PNG Attitude, I am proud of my subjective tales.

You cannot ban me from PNG Attitude for it is the only means an unheard LFR is going strong.

Just write your side of the Bougainville story if I am a liar and a cheat.

A good news story for AusAID and Bougainville.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&NR=1&v=pwDxMxcdyC4

Some of you may be interested to read the following article - 'An Analysis of Post Conflict Explanations of Indigenous Dissent Relating to the Bougainville Copper Mining Conflict, Papua New Guinea':

http://intersections.anu.edu.au/pacificurrents/kenema.htm
_________

Thanks Fiona. We'll present a shortened version of this important paper in a future PNG Attitude - KJ

Sadly, the side referred to as the dirty and damned included someone very dear to me.

My father had no grudge against any Bouganvillean, he was a gentle man, just doing his job as a medic to the PNG army.

For that he endured 12 years as a paraplegic before God called him to eternal peace.

Twelve years of his life in a wheelchair. Did he deserve that? That was also 12 years of tears for the family. Did we deserve that?

There is always two sides of a story. You wept, we cried as well. You lost loved ones, we did too.

In retrospect, we are made to feel like we are enemies, but we are not. We are brothers.

The real enemy is the people that killed your waterways, left giant metal carcasses to rot on your land and cut down your mountains.

This is a tragic tale complicated by political, commercial and social issues.

If Leonard is to tell this story objectively, then he should ensure that his narrative is not spoilt by assumptions and biases. Yes, he is a Bougainvillean and has suffered through a terrible period but he must remain objective whilst making his points.

For example, the phrase "Australian-donated gunships" is not accurate. The Australian government donated four Iriquois helicopters to the PNGDF for general military use in 1989. They were not fitted with the hardware and weapons that would make them useable as gunships. The donation was also conditional by the Australian Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, that they not be used as gunships.

If they were intended to be so used then the Australian Defence Force would have had them fitted with external mounted machinegun or cannon pods and internal machinegun and ammunition feed mounts.

However, subsequent to arrival in Port Moresby, someone authorised them to be armed with M60 machineguns which were suspended internally near each side door by rope slings. Hardly evidence of Australian military expertise or political interferrence in the crisis!

I last visited Bougainville in 1980 in my role with the PNG Electoral Commission and feel sorry that the situation developed the way it did.

Too right Barbara! Let's hope we do not have another Bougainville unless the likes of Roka rekindle the hatred and wounds that time is slowly healing.

In every conflict, there are always two sides to the story.

Leonard failed to even mention that the third major player during the crises were the resistance fighters. Is it not possible that some of those alleged attrocities he mentioned may have been committed by the resistance and blamed on the PNGDF troops instead.

I am not for one moment pleading the innocence of the soldiers...but there is always this 'maybe' factor!

And for Roka's information, the helicopter pilot he alluded to is indeed married to a woman from Buin and has significant business interest there even before the crisis.

Like many Bougainvillean bussinesses, he and his wife's business did suffer as a consequence but he still smiles today and loves his tambus like Roka.
__________

To be fair, Leonard did write a critical article about the Bougainville Revolutionary Army resistance in an article on 23 September:
http://asopa.typepad.com/asopa_people/2012/09/bougainville-revolutionary-army-was-the-root-of-civil-conflict.html

My understanding is that Leonard is telling the stories which need to be told, not trying to resurrect past ghosts - KJ

Dear LFR, I’m very pleased with you because very little has been written about Bougainville crisis.

I believe many people don’t know the dark side of the PNGDF operations in Bougainville.

Good on you, stories concerning the Bougainville crisis are best when written by Bougainvilleans like you.

Two interesting videos posted on YouTube. One an induction video for new Australian staff working for BCL...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yj9CZ615kz0

The other an interview with Harry Baxter (ex IRA), who actively supported BRA in the conflict -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yj9CZ615kz0

You can't get too more polar opposites than these.

I don't know that you can reasonably forgive those sorts of things, Barbara, but I guess it is still possible to move forward even while remembering them.

To move forward an initial step must be for the perpetrators on both sides to acknowledge and apologise for the harm they caused.

You may have noticed the recent advertisements by Paul Hamm's publishers calling on the Japanese government to apologise for the atrocities they committed at Sandakan.

The Japanese have never really apologised for their brutality in WW2 and until they do the hatred will continue. Not least is the worry that if it happened again they would behave the same way.

A genuine apology would lay that fear to rest (not the Jones' versions of "I'm sorry I got caught out" either). The same applies for Bougainville.

Trying to get mining companies to understand and be sympathetic to the cultures of the people on whose land they extract resources is like banging your head against a brick wall.

99% of them are only interested in the bottom line, which is how to maximise their profits.

One thing I do know, however, is that whatever happened has to be documented and publicised. In that sense Leonard's articles are crucial, especially as he currently seems to be a lone voice.

Leonard I had many Bougainvillians as friends in Goroka. This was because two of my teaching staff were from Bougainville. The bougainvillians I knew were Doctors, Nurses, teachers and other public service people. They were making a tremendous contribution to the development of Papua New Guinea.

They certainly did not deserve to hear that the people of Bougainville were suddenly declared enemies of the state just because the Central Government did not recognise the fact that Bougainville was entitled to claim more of the income from their resources which they traditionally owned. The greedy central Government got it wrong and the people suffered.

I can understand why many people cannot forgive the atrocities that occurred they are moments in time that cannot be forgiven.

The Australian Government also showed little understanding of the situation and became involved in the most darkest days of PNG history.

I agree with everyone that such an incident must never happen again. Sadly the abuse of remote village's rights in regard to the resources which rightly belong to them continues today. Lets hope the new Government behaves in a much more responsible way.

I cannot begin to answer the questions raised by Leonard, or attempt to suggest how to heal the wounds of the people of Bougainville.

But Barbara is right. There must be an attempt to move forward from both sides to go beyond the terrible past.

We met two PNG friends at the local station the other day. One was from the Eastern Highlands, the other from Bougainville.

I commented that one looked like he was from Bougainville. He replied "You are right brother (and looking at his Goroka friend and my wife he said) "These two are redskins, but they are my friends".

Leonard, I can see you have been through some terrible experiences. You write well and are starting to show a more reasoned and more balanced approach to your thinking. Good on you!

PNG is a developing country, which means your Defence Force is also "developing". It was certainly a Defence Force in training at the time of the Bougainville War.

It probably made some mistakes. But I feel the war was started by the people of Bougainville.

Maybe they were right in their protests but they were protesting against a mine that seemed to me, in 1977, to be running smoothly. (see my other article)

As we see today, the mining companies often do the wrong thing and they don't really understand the culture of the local people. Phil is trying to help them to understand the culture of the people on whose land the current mines are being developed.

But at the time of the Bougainville Crisis there were other ways that things could have been handled. There did not have to be a war.

There were plenty of well educated Bougainville men and women around in those days who could have sorted out the problems. I knew an ex-Keravat student from Bougainville who was living down here at that time. He is the type who should have been called up to help solve the problem.

But I imagine it was the hot-headed, short-tempered Bougainvilleans who took over. I remember having to handle some of them during my days as deputy-head at Keravat. I remember putting one on a plane back home. We had our own ideas why they had become so hot-headed, but I shall not mention them here.

When I was writing up the history of Kerevat NHS students I was told about one of my old Sepik students, Paul Panau, a Major in the PNGDF, who was killed when his platoon was ambushed on Kangu beach by BRA soldiers during the Bougainville war.

No doubt his family will still be grieving his loss. He was a lovely man. His family may still have a hatred for Bougainvillians but I hope not.

I hear you are studying in Madang. I'm sure there were probably men from Madang who were killed in the Bougainville war. Their relatives may have helped you in some way during your stay in Madang.

The only way forward is by "forgiveness, forgiveness, forgiveness", on both sides!

Let us hope that we never have another similar war to the Bougainville war caused by a row over a mine. Let's hope that people like Phil will continue in their efforts to get mining companies to work in with the local people.

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