Yesterday’s post on Bougainville’s President Momis has caused a stir in social media forums. The authenticity of his controversial statement has come into question. It is entirely out of character some argue. Below are quotes that plot the evolution of Momis’ position on Panguna.
Momis 2001 (Governor, North Solomons Province) >
‘BCL needed PNG to open the mine in the first place and keep it open because of the long-standing local opposition to the mine. In fact, it was BCL that requested the aid of its partner, PNG, to deploy defence forces to suppress the uprising and reopen the mine. BCL requested that PNG reopen the mine by whatever means necessary, and later assisted in planning and the imposition of the [military] blockade … It is important to Bougainvilleans and the long-term reconciliation process that Rio Tinto’s responsibility be addressed in an impartial forum by an impartial judge … It is well understood if the Panguna mine did not happen the Bougainville war and blockade would never have occurred’.
‘There are ‘no two ways about [it, the] Panguna mine is being opened in the not too distant future’.
‘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 up for libel. Remember Rio Tinto is a very powerful company! 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’.
‘The Panguna mine … [is] now owned by the people of Bougainville and not just the landowners as blood was spilled for this piece of land and these fighters must be compensated for the part they played to protect Panguna’
‘Actually the people of Bougainville are saying Panguna Mine does not belong just to the landowners’.
‘Panguna will be reopened by force’