ACT NOW! Special Correspondent in Bougainville
To the President of Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Bougainville Copper Limited [Rio Tinto] is not a bad company after all. Despite empirical evidence proving unquestionable involvement of the company in un-shameful acts in sponsoring terrorism on the innocent, this does not waiver the region’s CEO to look elsewhere in the bid to revive the region’s economy before independence. Dr. John Momis remains satisfied in bringing in what he calls the “better devil”. And there is no doubt that this move is the most unpopular among the population in the region that is now heading to its tenth year of autonomy.
And the President’s reason for working with this “better devil” goes back to a colonial act where BCL is mandated land rights over Panguna and other prospective areas; yes that’s right the Bougainville Copper Agreement! This act to Momis is the very reason why BCL should return. It seems the dear president is not going to quit stooping low for the mining company. In the Inaugural Forum for Panguna Landowners, this is what the president had to say:
“Many people have asked ‘why is ABG so beholden to BCL?’ Now the fact is this, the Bougainville Copper Agreement was made between the colonial…the Australia 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 ah…the…the ah impression that the ABG does not believe in good governance, does not believe in established international ah…good ah…international best practices…” (President of ARoB, Chief Dr John Momis, addresses the Inaugural Forum for Panguna Landowners, 2014)
And there we have it, putting “international best practice” ahead of the peoples’ interest. What makes the ABG president think that people need Panguna to reopen remains unknown.
And it does not stop there, the guarantee of a POSSIBLE compensation by the company for the past is conditioned upon the reopening of the Panguna mine, and the president’s reason was “if you kill the duck, it won’t lay eggs”. Apparently, the duck Dr. Momis is referring to is BCL, so instead of calling on the company to be liable to its involvement in the past, the president is more than willing allow an operation that the people themselves removed from the island to come back and dig the peoples’ riches in order for POSSIBLE compensation to be paid them.
There is no doubt the president is content with pleasing foreign interests at the cost of his peoples’ land and environment. The president’s arrogance is so obvious, as he labeled the work of agencies and other non-government organisations revealing his government’s cover-up as “mercenaries acts”. It has become evident of the president’s intention, there is no way he is letting this issue slide, no matter how much opposition is being voiced throughout different media outlets both social and mainstream.
What will become of the region if the better devil is given the green light to return via a greedy, inconsiderate and inconclusive minority?