Mental Health in Bougainville is a Serious Issue

Mothers and relatives gathered in Arawa independence park

Mothers and relatives gathered in Arawa independence park

Vilia Ngele (Bougainvillean)

The mental health impacts of the Bougainville crisispublished on March 5th, 2016, is alarming and must be taken seriously by the president, John Momis and his government – the autonomous government of Bougainville.

The ‘Health Medicine Network’ put out an edited extract version on some of their findings based on the research they carried out (when? – we may just find out, hopefully in a follow-up publication).

The findings they’ve published so far are very, very disturbing. The Momis-Nisiria government in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville must seriously consider these findings.

The people of Bougainville say to Momis and his government, ‘it is not about ‘growing the economy’ or ‘catching up with the rest of the world’ as he has been shoving it down the throats of the people of Bougainville.

NO! IT IS NOT!

IT IS ABOUT LISTENING TO THE POPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE!

People and mostly young people continue to suffer from the effects of the civil war, these are;

  1. those whose education were disrupted in 1989 when the civil war broke out and which lasted for almost over ten years, who are now parents and no doubt have passed on behavioural symptoms of war-induced traumatic experiences to their children – the next generation who are;
  2. in their teens and early twenties, who no doubt are finding it very difficult to handle the internal turmoil they live with everyday as has been described in this article and I quote;

Finally, our informants reported a trans-generational impact on those born after the war through their exposure to a range of trauma-related aberrant behaviours displayed by parents and within the community at large.

Collectively, the mental health issues identified were described as having a broad impact on the social fabric of Bougainville society and, indirectly, on economic recovery.

To prevent generational trauma-related aberrant behaviours on the current and future generations, the Momis-Nisiria government must;

(a)       STOP WORK IN ADVANCING ANY PROSPECT OF OPENING NEW MINES IN OTHER PARTS OF BOUGAINVILLE OR RE-OPENING THE PANGUNA MINE.

Mining is, has been and will be the cause of such trans-generational traumatic experiences. President Momis has not been able to deal with this most disturbing issue in Bougainville. On the contrary, he has been pushing, driving and forcing mining on Bougainville – the very evil that has caused such serious displacement of a people in every way. Is he concern about the people? NOPE!!

(b)      THE PRESIDENT – MR. JOHN MOMIS WAS A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT DURING RABBIE NAMALIU’S PRIME MINISTERSHIP FROM 1988 TO 1992. IT WAS NAMALIU’S GOVERNMENT THAT DECIDED ON THE “SHOOT TO KILL” POLICY, WHICH WAS IMPLEMENTED BY ITS SECURITY FORCES.

DID JOHN MOMIS DEFEND A SOUL ON BOUGAINVILLE WHEN THE  POLICY WAS DECIDED UPON? NOPE!

 But he went to Bougainville to make peace in about the mid.1990s! Why for?  In the first place, why didn’t he prevent the policy being implemented on the ground whereby more than 20,000 Bougainvillean lives were lost? Him alone can explain to the people of Bougainville why he did not defend a soul on the soil of Bougainville!

HE DEFINITELY OWES THE PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE AN APOLOGY – BIG TIME!

AND HE MUST STEP DOWN AS THE LEADER OF THE PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE IN HIS POSITION AS PRESIDENT OF THE AUTONOMOUS GOVERNMENT OF BOUGAINVILLE.

HE HAS PROVED HIMSELF INCAPABLE OF PROTECTING THE PEOPLE WHOM HE CALLS ‘HIS PEOPLE’. BOUGAINVILLEANS ARE NOT HIS PEOPLE. CHINESE ARE! MINING COMPANIES OWNERS ARE!

HE’S BEEN MISLEADING THE PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE SINCE 1987!

Another most grievous issue he committed against the people of Bougainville is when in the 1987 PNG national elections campaign he campaigned against mining on Bougainville.  Here’s a portion of his letter from the article ‘BCL forces its colonial arrogance relentlessly on the people of Bougainville’ published on the 26 of October 2015.

‘…Momis’ leadership is scary: it feels and smells authoritative.  He is indeed an interesting character, an ex-Catholic padre, a philosopher and shrewd politician. In wearing his padre hat in 1987, in a letter written to the then managing director of BCL, Paul Quadling, the ex-padre carefully selected his words, with regards to the adverse impact BCL mining operations was having on the people in Panguna and in Bougainville in general. (Letter dated, 4th May 1987, addressed to the managing director, Paul Quadling).

… … The fundamental truth is that BCL has colonized our people, it has taken their land, it has reduced them to passive dependents.  Our people – who to you are just Bougainvilleans or even more anonymously ‘nationals’ are now servants in a land where once they were masters. They keenly feel it and deeply resent it. In your heart you know this to be true, even if it is your company’s policy to keep a low profile, to keep such distance from the people that no one says it to your face.  So few of your staff are nationals except for the unskilled and semi-skilled who do the dirty shiftwork, breathing the dust you make when you make a hole in a mountain. After fifteen years of mining, only a handful of nationals have a rank higher than foreman and that number is not growing but shrinking.  … … …’

Sir Julius Chan became PNG’s prime minister in 1994 and while in office he was responsible in bringing the mercenaries over to PNG to execute his government’s plan on ‘eliminating’ the BRA. He, too, must apologize to the people of Bougainville.  Sir Rabbie Namaliu must apologize to the people of Bougainville. This demand also goes to other former national leaders whether political or in other capacity who promoted and supported the civil war, all must come clean with the people of Bougainville.

Come on Mr. John Momis, reign in ‘justice’ on the people of Bougainville NOT corruption!

The people of Bougainville have not been given space to rest from the tyranny of multinational mining companies and in his right frame of mind to make any sound judgment on the issue, he has a clear history of such misguided ‘way forward’ with regards to development. Time he stops depending on his Australian advisors based at the ANU and at Griffith University and in Australian the Department of Foreign Affairs.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

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