Brothers in need
It was his first visit to Lae, but it all went terribly wrong

John Momis shirtfronts Jubilee Australia over “biased report”

Voices-of-bougainville-coverKEITH JACKSON

BOUGAINVILLE president Dr John Momis has strongly rebuked the Jubilee Australia organisation for claiming that opposition to re-opening the Panguna copper and gold mine is “near universal”.

On its website, Jubilee Australia says its mission is to “promote accountability for the causes of poverty and injustice in the Asia Pacific” and “elevate the voice of affected communities”.

Earlier this year it conducted a survey of 65 people in the Panguna area and has just published a report entitled Voices of Bougainville.

In a letter obtained by PNG Attitude, Dr Momis calls the report “factually inaccurate, biased, methodologically unsound and dishonest in claiming that interviews with 65 individuals selected by its authors allows it to represent the voices of 300,000 Bougainvilleans.”

Dr Momis added that these failures “have been compounded by even more inaccurate public statements about the Report and its findings made by Jubilee Chief Executive, Brynnie Goodwill.”

He said that many of the “grave errors in the report could have been avoided had those involved in the work simply consulted the elected and representative Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).”

“The most fundamental and also dishonest aspect of the Jubilee research,” Dr Momis said, “is to claim, as it does in the title, to represent Voices of Bougainville.

“The research interviewed just 65 people in the Panguna mine lease areas that have an estimated population of perhaps 10,000. It failed to speak with people from any other part of Bougainville, all of whom were of course affected by the Bougainville conflict.

“Use of the title Voices of Bougainville constitutes misrepresentation of a serious and indeed dangerous sort.”

In his long response to Jubilee Australia’s report (we link  below to both report and response), Dr Momis questioned the integrity of the research itself.

“There are clear indications that the research methodology used was … designed to bring about a specific result,” he said.

“In particular, the choice of people to interview was not based on any scientific sampling technique. Rather the researchers approached ‘culturally appropriate gatekeepers … identified on the basis of the researchers’ customary knowledge of villagers … and through guidance from local contacts …’

“We are not told the identity of the ‘local contacts’ or ‘village gatekeepers’.

“Against this background, I strongly suspect that the researchers contacted people they knew were opposed to mining and that these contacts, not unnaturally, suggested participants that they too knew were opposed to mining.

“This is the only credible explanation as to how 65 of 65 interviewees would all express opposition to mining.”

Dr Momis concluded his rebuttal by writing that “the Jubilee Report is deeply flawed” and that “Jubilee Australia’s Board bears responsibility for allowing such a misleading and irresponsible document to be released, and for limiting and redressing the damage it can cause.”

Read the Jubilee Australia Report here

Download President John Momis's response to the Jubilee Australia report


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Kristian Lasslett

An excerpt from the report on areas visited:

"All participants’ villages were located in the Panguna district and can be disaggregated into four areas, according to their proximity to the mine, and the various landowner groups that represent them.

1. Special Mining Lease area (SML) - This area covers the mine pit area where the copper and gold was extracted. This area was managed under the terms outlined in the Bougainville Copper Agreement (1967 and revised in 1974), and is characterized today by extreme damage to the land. During the conflict, heavy fighting took place around the area over control of the mine site, particularly during 1989-90 when the PNGDF moved its operational headquarters to BCL facilities at Panguna. Participants in the study came from three villages located in the heart of the SML area including:

• Dapera village which was entirely relocated away from its original site to the mine’s periphery and has been the object of numerous studies since the end of the conflict. It is recognised as one of the places most impacted by the mine and the conflict. Dapera village still endures the consequences of mining, with a very limited portion of land available for its community to survive on today.

• Pirurari village was also relocated; it now lies several kilometers away from its original location at the periphery of the mine site. In 1988 women and students from Pirurari village organised a demonstration, blocking roads to the mine, in protest against the waste being released on their land by BCL.

• Guava village remains on its original site, very close to the mine site. One of the incidents that triggered the start of the conflict took place in this village with the murder of Mathew Kove, a prominent member of the old PLA, allegedly by his nephew Francis Ona who subsequently became an influential BRA leader.

• Researchers planned to interview residents from Moroni, another village in the SML area. However, inclement weather at the time prevented them from gaining access. Thus no participants from Moroni were recorded.

2. Upper Tailings: This area is located within the SML area, further down from the mine’s pit, along the Kawerong river. It consists of Enamira village and its surrounding hamlets or sub-villages: Kavarongnau, Barako and Makosi. Kavarongnau and Barako were actually visited by the researchers; the Makosi respondents were interviewed at other sites. Some community members from this region were reported to have been forced to move further up the mountain due to changes in the river flow and pollution during the mine’s operation.

3. Middle Tailings: This region used to be part of the upper tailing area during the mine operation, however a Middle Tailings Landowners Association has been formed recently. It is characterised by water pollution, soil erosion and the deleterious impacts of mine tailings disposal. Heavy fighting also occurred here during the conflict. Participants in the study were from Darenai village, also called Toku village, which is spread all along the Kawerong river.

4. Outside mine site: For the purpose of this study, the ‘outside mine site’ area refers to visited villages located outside of the mining lease areas as defined in the Bougainville Copper Agreement, and within the limits of Panguna district. Most of these regions are harder to reach due to their remote location up in the mountain; some parts were less affected by pollution during the operational period. Participants from this area come from the following villages:

• Paruparu (also called Evo) village: Part of the village is along the river, and today Paruparu is affected by the threat of collapsing sand banks triggered by mine waste in the Kabarong river. The community moves to higher grounds for safety every month or so. During the conflict, the village was targeted by helicopter fire. Paruparu is also made up of a number of sub-villages from which the respondents were drawn (Sirobai, Sipuru and Mainoki).

• Dupanta village: The researchers visited Dupanta village, where at the request of local residents a focus group discussion was conducted with 17 individuals instead of individual interviews. See the Appendix for details.

• Oune and Onove: A small number of respondents also came from these villages.

In total:

• 28 respondents came from the SML area (14 from Dapera, 9 from Pirurari and 5 from Guava);

• 11 from the Upper Tailings area;

• 13 from the Middle Tailings and 13 from outside the mine site area (not including the Dupanta focus group)."

Leonard Roka

I for one thought it was good without looking at it and was shocked that it was all lies of the slum dwellers and not the whole Panguna people.

This band did not cut across the entire Panguna district but were with the handful of squatter settlers in the old Panguna mine site.

Fidelis Sukina

This is why communication is important. The ABG should have known about this, they should know what's going on in their backyard.

Research helps to improve things or find problems. I think ABG should see this as an opportunity to start funding their own research and publish it to counter such findings.

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