A response to Prime Minister O’Neill’s Independence Day pledge that PNG won’t be broken up
Bougainville Freedom Movement
It is time that Mr O’Neill, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea (PNG) was educated in that:
Bougainville is geographically a part of the Solomon Islands Archipelago. It is the biggest island lying in the north of the Solomons chain and is a mere eight kilometres from the arbitrary sea border of the independent state of the Solomon Islands. In contrast Bougainville is over 900 kilometres from the Papua New Guinea capital, Port Moresby. It is not part of the land mass of PNG and is separated by the Solomon Sea.
The people of Bougainville and the Solomons are related to each other culturally and ethnically. They have visited and traded with each other since time immemorial. Even after the formal separation of Bougainville from the rest of the Solomon Islands archipelago traditional border crossings and clan visitations for family reasons took place and this exchange goes on today. The people of Bougainville also have much darker skins than the people of Papua New Guinea.
Lineage is through the matrilineal clan system, where the clan is traced through the “queen” of the clan who is also the titleholder and custodian of the tribal land. There are few resemblances with the people of Papua New Guinea who are made up of very culturally diverse groupings with up to 800 different tribes and languages.
“Alienation from agricultural land was a problem but this did not approach the grievances of the landowners affected first by mine construction and then the destruction and devastation of the environment by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL)”.
“It is worth remembering that Australia was the country that granted independence to Papua New Guinea. For almost 70 years, Australia maintained colonial rule over the eastern half of New Guinea. Unfortunately, this fact is largely absent in contemporary discussions of relations between the countries…
“The imposition of Australian ideas created problems in the years immediately following independence. Leaders sought to find a balance between continuing the Australian policies and finding a new course that reflected the tenuous sense of Papua New Guinean identity.
“The results were not always successful. Economic problems combined with unrest in places like Bougainville challenged the government in Port Moresby. The ethnic diversity of Papua New Guinea sat uneasily with the Australian insistence on granting independence to a single, united country”.
See further PNG Marks 40 years of Independence