Posts Tagged ‘Bougainville’

As the pre-independence Papua New Guinea Constitutional Planning Committee rummaged the length and breadth of what was soon to be the new PNG, the many thoughts of the citizens were given. These were all compiled into what we call the National Goals and Directive Principles.

The very first goal outlines what the Constitutional Planning Committee wanted every citizen Papua New Guinea to reach, in order to unify and strengthen the state.

In simplified terms, Integral Human Development is the ‘creation of a person that is ‘whole’ or a ‘complete being’ within the state of Papua New Guinea. In the Constitutional Planning Committee Report (1974) it is written:

This means that we use the term development to mean nothing less than the unending process of improvement of every man and woman as a whole person. We take our stand on the dignity and worth of each Papua New Guinean man, woman and child.

‘Dignity’ and ‘worth’ of every Papua New Guinean is what the citizens wanted as the very first goal of Papua New Guinea as a nation as from 1975. The people wanted the independent state of Papua New Guinea to be the catalyst towards citizens respecting each other. Through citizens seeing value in each other, development should flow freely for all, the First Goal argues.

When the lawmakers tapped into Integral Human Development, they addressed the human person as a ‘whole’. For in the ‘whole’ human person, we connote the three main parts of a person: a man is made up of the spiritual, physical and mental components. Manifestation into these parts meant the Constitution was truly holistic. It was dedicating itself into getting every PNG citizen to be free spiritually, physically and mentally.

In the spiritual aspect of life, for example, the National Constitution was to uphold the Melanesian traditions, cultures or norms that connect the man to his environment. I say this because Melanesians were spiritual beings long before Western colonisation of our islands.

In terms of physical well-being, by enshrining Integral Human Development as priority number one, the government was telling the world that it would provide for its citizens. Equality, fairness and justice in the political, economic and social spheres was its obligation. This would imply, for example, that poverty would be eradicated for every citizen. In terms of mental well-being, the first goal implies the state is to provide easy access to services such as education and health care, without discrimination.

To the Constitutional Planning Committee, providing these things were the new nation’s top duty. It recognised that by a total commitment to the people, the newly independent nation could create a stable and viable state where every person was free to access and benefit from every development in Papua New Guinea.

To me, positive change for Papua New Guinea’s progress was well catered for on paper. The National Goals provide a nice foundation for any nation builder’s strategizing. But the leadership, on the other hand, were already engaged in denying citizens from seeing his or her fellow countryman or woman as having his or her own ‘dignity and worth’.

Inequality and injustice was what the colonial administration blessed the government of Papua New Guinea with to start off as an independent country, directly contradicting its written laws including National Goal number one.

A classic case in this regard is my Solomon island of Bougainville. The Government of Papua New Guinea was not willing to respect our ‘dignity and worth’ as non-Papua New Guineans. It was not willing to allow us to develop with our own values, despite goal number one, and despite being a member of the United Nations that protects minorities or marginalised peoples against all forms of genocide, exploitation and suppression.

At the cost of Bougainvillean land and people’s ‘dignity and worth’, Papua New Guinea was trying to get the new state up and running economically. Our dignity and worth was nothing to the state, which was built to sustain the bicycle tyre called Papua New Guinea and not those spokes that strengthen that tyre to carry the country.

And today, despite our very first goal being ‘Integral Human Development’, we still witness Papua New Guineans denying each others’ dignity and worth.

In summary, Integral Human Development is for the state to empower each individual citizen’s dignity and worth in its own unique setting for a harmonious national sustenance and developmental progress. But, for Papua New Guinea, the respect for its citizen’s dignity and worth has been neglected in the name of national progress, at the expense of the development of each citizen as a whole person.

Four Solomon Islanders recently set out on a fact-finding mission to Papua New Guinea to learn from their experiences in mining. In Bougainville they discovered many believe that ‘real development’ does not come from mining but from hard work and control of their own natural resources. 

By Stephen Suti Agalo and Patrick Pikacha

The Solomon Islands is blessed with rich natural resources in our forests, oceans and rocks. We know these resources are the key to unlocking the development potential of our islands and delivering essential services to our people.

But experiences from the past decades of logging have demonstrated that if we are not careful our resources can be exploited without any development to show for it.

The vast majority of landowners involved in logging for a short period lived in hotels and drove nice cars and boats.

Now they are back in a leaf house, paddling a canoe and struggling for school fees. Now our forests are all gone but where are the schools? Where are the hospitals? Where did the money go?

In Bougainville we observed the devastation left after mining led to a war that killed over 15,000 people.

However now the Bougainville economy is growing and the region is being developed not from mining but from agriculture.

The unique geology and volcanoes that makes Bougainville and the Solomons good for mining also makes the soil very fertile and ideal for agriculture.

Through hard work Bougainvilleans are earning money and developing their island from copra, rice, cocoa and vanilla.

Many people told us that with the agriculture and small scale panning of alluvial gold they now have more money available at the family level than they did when the multi-billion dollar copper mine was operating.

They explained to us that money gained from mining is whiteman money and only good for short term whiteman things like hotels and fancy food, but money we earn from sweat and agriculture is real money that leads to real development.

*Extracted from the article ‘Delegation returns from PNG with lessons on mining’, Solomon Star July 2, 2012. Full article here: http://ramumine.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/solomon-star-png-mining-article-mr.jpg

BOUGAINVILLE Copper Ltd (BCL) said in early May the people of Bougainville’s future depended on the reopening of the Panguna mine. At BCL’s annual general meeting in Port Moresby last month, chairman Peter Taylor said:

“There is widespread agreement today that Bougainville’s economic future needs mining if it is to be able to fund services for the people from its own resources, as well as address future opportunities for economic and social development.”

But Bougainvilleans do have a choice for their economic future not solely based on mining. We know this because, during the war, Bougainvilleans found they were very capable of supporting themselves outside of mining: outside the cash economy altogether.

The wonderful book, As Mothers of the Land[1] – detailing the incredible and decisive role played by women throughout the war and subsequent peace process – provides an overview of this successful adaptation to self-sufficiency during the blockade.

Josephine Tankunani Sirivi, for example, describes how people returned to traditional gardening knowledge and the barter system. “Now we no longer had cash, paid work or any access to processed food, yet we were able to produce enough to feed our people and to share with others,” she says.

Rather than society succumbing to anarchy and starvation, “it was a time of sharing and caring wholeheartedly for one another.”

It was also a time of innovation: learning how to use coconut oil for cars and power; designing hydro-electric power from mountain streams; setting up a short-wave radio station (Radio Free Bougainville); producing rice, oil and soap; using cocoa to produce bleach; and re-learning the use of various herbs and vines, tree bark, roots and leaves for medicine.

Perhaps most impressively, these (primarily women-led) initiatives created an outstanding health and education infrastructure entirely through community organisation and without wages, let alone millions of dollars of foreign aid. Marilyn Taleo Havini describes this revolution:

“Women’s groups began by forming family, church and non-denominational fellowships to feed orphans and widows, to teach, nurse, pass on recipes, seeds and agrarian skills such as permaculture, and to conduct technical and secretarial training.

“By 1996, several of these community initiatives had come together under (the) name Bougainville Community Based Integrated Humanitarian Program (BOCBIHP). Behind the blockade, by the time the peace process began in 1997, they had established 12 health centre bases that supplied 23 aid posts and 47 village health clinics. The nursing school in the jungle graduated trainees and health workers including 36 village midwives, 36 village aides and 23 aid post orderlies.

“BOCBIHP fielded 80 qualified schoolteachers and 113 volunteer grade-10 graduates as their assistants. They opened 71 community schools with an overall enrollment of 4,726 pupils. They also opened a secretarial school and a bible college.”

Sirivi sees the self-sufficiency movement as having enabled many people to survive the war. In addition, “new communal respect for traditional knowledge and jungle skills added to the pride of being Bougainvillean.”

If these outcomes were possible under the extreme conditions of the war, what amazing efforts could be achieved today, in a time of peace?

Mining has left a deep stain on Bougainville, and mining alone won’t remove it. Regardless of whether Panguna is reopened or not, Bougainvilleans can benefit – like all Papua New Guineans, and all Pacific Islanders – by organising themselves to control their own communities, as described above.

Not being reliant on mining, these communities can survive and thrive when they control their own development.

*

Watch a movie about the Bougainville ‘eco-revolution’ during the crisis, ‘The Coconut Revolution’, here.


[1] Tankunani Sirivi, J. and Taleo Havini, M. (eds.)2004, …As Mothers of the Land: The Birth of the Bougainville Women for Peace and Freedom. Canberra: Pandanus Books