One thing we know for sure, BCL / Rio Tinto is no fan of Nasioi culture. When the company arrived on Bougainville back in the 1960s it brushed aside Nasioi elders, and brutalised Nasioi women, the mothers of the land. It then vandalised Nasioi land, waterways, and environment to the point of cultural explosion, which BCL suppressed by helping the PNG Defence Force to wage war on Nasioi resisters. Nasioi villages were burnt, and Nasioi landowners murdered.
BCL has justified its criminal involvement in these atrocities by saying Nasioi landowners breached the law, when they attempted to honour their customary obligations by evicting the cultural vandals. BCL as a result was merely helping the PNGDF to enforce laws, which took precedent over and above custom.
Then when landowners and international civil society ask for BCL to also then respect the law, by answering for its crimes, its Chairman said, judicial forums are not appropriate in Nasioi culture, BCL will ‘make peace’ through Bel Kol. When it helps the company escape responsibility for crimes, Nasioi culture is quite okay, when it stands in the way of corporate profits, it is to be ignored or suppressed.
So we now reach the end of this cynical road, BCL will attempt to clean its dirty hands in the warm water of Nasioi custom – once again cynically abusing cultural institution in order to get its claws back on Panguna. And the Momis government is paying millions to facilitate this abuse of ritual.
BCL stands accused of the ecocide of Nasioi land and the murder of Nasioi civilians – it plans to resolve matters by offering some ‘gifts’, building a monument and reopening the mine. No one will accept this insult.