Pacific Media Watch

12 November 2014

PNG: Bougainville renews call for NGO to withdraw controversial mine report

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The launch of the Jubilee Australia report. Image: Jubilee Australia

WELLINGTON (Radio New Zealand International/ABC/Pacific Media Watch): Bougainville has accused an Australian NGO of having a pre-determined position in its report into the attitudes of villagers to a possible re-opening of the Panguna mine, reports Radio NZ International.

Jubilee Australia published the report "Voices of Bougainville" in September, drawing an immediate outcry from the autonomous government in the Papua New Guinea province.

Don Wiseman reports:

"Voices of Bougainville was a series of interviews with people living around the closed Panguna mine. It was heavily critical of government plans for a possible re-opening; it claimed the villagers had been shut out of any consultations, and said locals want a focus on other ways to stimulate economic growth. The Bougainville government, led by President John Momis, complained and called on the NGO's board to withdraw the report, but Jubilee Australia's response was to stand by it.

"The NGO rejected claims of bias in its research and says the report was not intended to speak for all Bougainvilleans. It said it had not made contact with the Bougainville government because this might have compromised its links with the villagers. Now Mr Momis says Jubilee Australia has shown grave disrespect. He says the report shows signs of advocacy rather than a scientific approach and asks again for it to be withdrawn."

Meanwhile Radio Australia reports people lost during the decade-long civil war on Bougainville have been farewelled in an emotional ceremony.

"The families left behind organised a sea burial in the Buka Passage on Monday morning.

"The bodies of those killed during the Bougainville conflict, which began in 1989, were never recovered and will probably never be found.

"Relatives of the dead went out into the Buka Passage on a ship to say their goodbyes and throw wreaths into the water."

Jubilee Australia confirms Bougainville report

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