In an incredible address to Panguna landowners, made in February this year, President John Momis told communities to forget the crimes committed by Rio Tinto, and bow before the power of this corporate monolith.
Despite the fact Rio Tinto stands guilty of aiding and abetting the murder of civilians, Dr Momis argues that in fact to refuse Rio Tinto reentry into Panguna would be against international best practice. Does international best practice include aiding the slaughter of innocents?
Here are some of the most offensive passages from Momis’ speech:
“Many people have asked, why is the ABG so beholden to BCL?
Now the fact is this. The Bougainville Copper Agreement was made between the colonial Australian government and Rio Tinto. That agreement according to many of us, is a bad agreement. But unfortunately it is the agreement that governs the operation of the mine.
So if we just ignore it, then we could be creating the impression that the ABG does not believe in good governance, does not believe in established international best practices.
But if we, even before we start talking with them, without testing the waters, without finding out from them whether they are genuine or not, decide to either nationalise Panguna mine, or just expropriate it, then we could be up for libel. Remember Rio Tinto is a very powerful company!
Mining companies have their own associations, they dont step on each others toes they may compete against one another, but they have a very strong brotherhood, that has special rules and protocols that they respect.
So my suggestion to landowners and the people of Bougainville is for us to start negotiating, get our mining law passed, and start negotiating with them”.
You can listen to the original speech here: https://soundcloud.com/abgcommunications/momis-addresses-panguna