Bougainville Revolutionary Army

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The Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) was formed in 1988 by Bougainvilleans seeking independence from Papua New Guinea (PNG). The leader of the BRA was Francis Ona, who led the BRA to victory over the Papua New Guinea Defence Forces during the violent 10 year conflict. Not all the BRA were agreeable to the Peace Treaty and boycotted the entire Peace Treaty and have been holding and living in an official no-go zone, protected by members of the 500-man Meekamui Defence Force (whose current Commander is Moses Pepino).

The BRA's membership often changed drastically during the war, with the group first numbering just thirty fighters, then gaining 20,000 figters in two years.[1]

BRA leaders argue that Bougainville is ethnically part of the Solomon Islands and has not profited from the extensive mining that has occurred on the island. In 1989, BRA leaders proclaimed Bougainville independent from PNG and established the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG). As a result, the fighting between BRA and the PNG military, with support from Australia, escalated.

In January 1991, the Honiara Declaration was signed under which both sides agreed to a ceasefire. This ceasefire was soon broken and fighting continued. In 1997, Bill Skate of the National Congress Party was elected Prime Minister of PNG and promised that peace in Bougainville would be his highest priority. This led to the signing of a ceasefire agreement, the Rotokas Record, and a movement towards peace and the autonomy of Bougainville. As a result, the BRA is no longer actively engaged in fighting, although some of its leaders are involved in the BIG.

A documentary about the struggle of the indigenous population to save their island from environmental destruction and gain independence, was made in 1999, called The Coconut Revolution.[1][2]

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