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The Bougainville Crisis, 1991 update

CollectionsANU Pacific Institute
Title: The Bougainville Crisis, 1991 update
Author(s): Bougainville Conference
Spriggs, Mattew
Denoon, Donald
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Dept. of Political and Social Change, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University
Bathurst, NSW : Crawford House Press
Series/Report no.: Political and Social Change Monograph: no. 16
The crisis in Bougainville has become the most serious issue in the affairs of the western Pacific. Separatist sentiment has always been significant, fuelled by perceived ethnic traits distinguishing Bougainvilleans from other Papua New Guineans, exacerbated by neglect of the region during most of the colonial period (until the development of the mining complex in the 1960s), and promoted by the remoteness of the islands from the rest of Papua New Guinea. Secession was the greatest problem addressed by the independent state of Papua New Guinea in 1 975. The resolution - autonomy for the North Solomons Province - seemed to work until the late 1 980s when younger and more militant people began to represent the landowners in negotiations with the mining company, the provincial government, and the national government. The crisis has Australian dimensions : the Commonwealth government cannot be neutral since it provides a declining but still significant proportion of Papua New Guinea's revenue and logistic support for the Papua New Guinea Defence Force; the closure of the mine and Papua New Guinea's resulting fiscal difficulties will intensify Papua New Guinea's financial dependence. Also, many of the relevant aid agencies are based in Australia or organize their efforts here. It is critically important therefore that Australians'be accurately informed of events and conditions in Bougainville. Media coverage is at best uneven. The blockade of the island has made information scarce, erratic and unreliable; inevitably, information is carried by individuals and organizations who are emotionally involved in one way or another. Oarity is also obscured by the fact that different policies are pursued by competing sections of the Papua New Guinea cabinet, and different stances have been adopted by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, the Interim Government, and an increasing number of smaller organizations in Bougainville. It is this dearth of accurate information which provoked us to organize a second Bougainville Update Conference. It is our fervent hope that the next conference will be the last, and that it will be able to analyse a successful and peaceful resolution.
ISBN: 0863330615
ISSN: 0727-5994


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