History of Bougainville
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- 1 Prehistory
- 2 European colonisation
- 3 Second World War
- 4 Beginnings of the independence movement
- 5 Factors for conflict in Bougainville
- 6 Republic of North Solomons
- 7 Panguna mine conflict
- 8 Uprising
- 9 Civil war
- 10 Media coverage of civil war
- 11 Sandline and ceasefire
- 12 Operation Bel Isi
- 13 Autonomy
- 14 Further information
- 15 References
Bougainville has been inhabited for at least 33,000 years. Its people speak languages belonging to three language families, the northern and southern Bougainville families, whose origins are unknown and presumably ancient, and languages of the Austronesian family, which arrived from western areas with migrants of the more recent Lapita culture three millennia ago.
Douglas Oliver in his 1991 book discussed one of the unique aspects of the people of Bougainville: "[A] trait shared by the present-day descendants of both northerners and southerners is their skin-colour, which is very black. Indeed, it is darker than that of any population of present-day Pacific islanders, including the present-day indigenes of New Ireland, the larger homeland of the first Bougainvilleans. The presence of Bougainville as a ‘black spot’ in an island world of brownskins (later called redskins) raises a question that cannot now be answered. Were the genes producing that darker pigmentation carried by the first Bougainvilleans when they arrived? Or did they evolve by natural or ‘social’ selection, during the millennia in which the descendants of those pioneers remained isolated, reproductively, from neighbouring islanders? Nothing now known about Bougainville’s physical environment can support an argument for the natural selection of its peoples’ distinctively black pigmentation; therefore a case might be made for social selection, namely an aesthetic (and hence reproductive) preference for black skin."
They developed an identity distinct from many other ethnicities in Papua New Guinea, where there are hundreds of linguistic and cultural groups.
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The German New Guinea Company established control over Bougainville and Buka, Choiseul, Shortland and Treasury islands in 1885, as part of European colonisation in the area. The British Empire established a protectorate in 1893 for the southern Solomon Islands, expanding it to include the eastern islands in 1899. In 1900, Germany transferred all of its claims in the Solomons, other than Bougainville and Buka Island, to Great Britain. Britain in return withdrew from Western Samoa.
During World War I, Australian forces occupied Bougainville together with the rest of German New Guinea. After the war and the defeat of Germany, the League of Nations placed the territory under Australian mandate in 1920.
Second World War
In 1942, Bougainville was occupied by Japanese forces, who used it as a base to attack Guadalcanal and other Allied territory. In November 1943, the 3rd Marine Division landed on the west coast of Bougainville. Shortly afterwards the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay was fought between cruisers and destroyers of the U.S. Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy. The Americans routed the Japanese and took control of the seas in this area. A concerted Allied land offensive between November 1943 and April 1944 was needed to occupy and hold the part of the island along the western shore in an area called "Torokina". The Americans set about establishing a wide defensive perimeter, draining swamps, and building multiple airfields for defence. Their next goal was to attack the Japanese on New Britain Island. The Marines were replaced by US Army troops.
The Japanese infiltrated the mountains and jungles of Bougainville, and launched a counteroffensive against the Americans in 1944. The critical focus of their attack was at a place called "Hellsapoppin Ridge" by the Americans. In repulsing this attack, the American soldiers and airmen broke the back of the Japanese Army on Bougainville. The survivors retreated to their bases on northern and southern Bougainville, and the Americans left them to "wither on the vine" for the remainder of the war. During the 1943–45 period, more than 17,500 Japanese soldiers were either killed in combat, died of disease, or died of malnutrition. In 1945, the Australian Army took over occupation from the Americans. Australia resumed control of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, which became a United Nations trusteeship. The remaining Japanese on Bougainville refused to surrender, but held out until the surrender of the Japanese Empire on 2 September 1945. They were commanded by the Emperor to surrender to the Allied Australians, Americans, and New Zealanders, and they were repatriated to Japan.
Beginnings of the independence movement
Bougainville is rich in copper, and possibly gold. The mining of copper has been the subject of considerable social tensions over the last fifty years. Local people made two attempts at secession in protest of the mining exploitation.
In 1964, Australian business began the first attempt to explore the island's resources: CRA Exploration, a subsidiary of Australian company Rio Tinto Zinc, began drilling in the Panguna area. The Panguna mine opened in 1969 under their subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd.
The first independence movement emerged in the late 1960s, at a time when other colonial governments were being dismantled in Asian and African nations. The local indigenous people began to air their grievances against the Australian colonial government over the handling of the Panguna mine and protested the inadequate sharing of revenues being generated from mining on their land. Australian External Territories Minister Charles Barnes was accused of telling the Bougainvillean people they would "get nothing". The local people sued for compensation and the case went to the High Court of Australia. It found that the compensation was inadequate under ordinary federal Australian law. But, as an external territory, Papua New Guinea was not guaranteed the same standards that applied to mainland Australia.
In 1972, Australia granted Bougainville some degree of autonomy, but this did not end the secessionist movement. Relations between Bougainville and the government of Papua New Guinea deteriorated after the murders of two senior Bougainvillean public servants in December 1972. This was rumored to be retaliation for a road accident in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Islanders were outraged by the murders, and the events helped to consolidate the independence movement. As a result, the Bougainville Special Political Committee (BSPC) was set up to negotiate with the Papuan government on the future of Bougainville within PNG.
By 1974, the BSPC had reached a compromise with a Special Committee of the Papuan Parliament, which would have given the island greater autonomy. The Special Committee did not agree to providing a defined share of the profits from the Panguna mine to the people of Bougainville. The conservative Papuan government declined to follow key sections of the Committee's report, and in May 1975, negotiations between the two parties collapsed completely.
Factors for conflict in Bougainville
The conflict in Bougainville had multiple causes; there is not one single factor that should be isolated as a sole cause of the conflict. Instead, there is a series of predominant causes which can trace their roots directly to the Panguna Mine. Pan-Bougainvillean ethnicity should not be discounted as an important factor but should be seen as an external projection of economic and inter-ethnic grievances.
Secession in Bougainville is based primarily upon a separate ethnic identity from the rest of Papua New Guinea. More than 800 different languages are spoken in the islands and there is little cohesiveness of regional let alone national identity. Unusually Bougainvillean identity is associated with the Solomon Islands. Directly prior to Papua New Guinean gaining independence, Bougainville had pursued the possibility of a political union with the British Protectorate of the Solomon Islands. This is a unique element of Bougainville's identity. Ray Anere wrote about Bougainville:
- "A Constitutional Planning Committee (CPC), which was set up in 1972 toured the country to gather the views of the people on independence. There was no resistance from any group except for Bougainville who wanted to secede from the rest of the country."
Republic of North Solomons
On 28 May 1975, the Interim Provincial Government in Bougainville agreed to secede from Papua New Guinea. This caused a three-way impasse between the Government of PNG, the legislature in PNG, and the authorities in Bougainville. The PNG government attempted to resolve the situation through June and July, but failed. The Interim Provincial Government announced that they would declare independence on 1 September, ahead of Papua New Guinea's own planned independence day of 16 September. On 1 September, they issued the 'Unilateral Declaration of Independence of the Republic of North Solomons'.
They sought international recognition through the United Nations, but were unsuccessful. They also failed in an attempt to unite with the Solomon Islands. In early 1976, the Bougainvillean government realised that they would have to accept Papua New Guinean sovereignty.
Later that year, both the governments signed the 'Bougainville Agreement', which gave the island autonomy within Papua New Guinea. PNG government promised full independence in 5 years, but did not complete granting this. For the remainder of the 1970s, and into the early 1980s, relations between the two remained tense, but relatively peaceful. In 1981 disputes re-emerged over the status of the mine, which was the basis of the conflict that became violent in 1988.
Panguna mine conflict
Operations of the mine at Panguna and sharing of its revenues had been perhaps the major sticking point between Bougainville and PNG government. The mine was the largest non-aid revenue stream of the Government of Papua New Guinea from 1975, when it became independent, to the mine’s closure in 1989. The national government received a 20% share of profit from the mine and authorised 0.5–1.25% share to the Bougainvilleans.
Revenues from the mine products was vitally important to the economy of Papua New Guinea, but the people of Bougainville were seeing little benefit from it. In addition, they began to recognise that they were bearing the total effects of the mine's environmental consequences for the island. They claimed that the Jaba River had been poisoned, causing birth defects among local people, as well as the extinction of the flying fox on the island and adverse effects on fish and other species. Critics said that Bougainville Copper had created an apartheid, segregated system, with one set of facilities for white workers, and one set for the locals.
By late 1988, cousins and local leaders, Francis Ona and Pepetua Serero, decided to take up arms against the Papuan government. Ona had worked for Bougainville Copper, and had witnessed the effects the mine was having on the environment.
In 1987, Ona and Serero had called a meeting of landowners around Panguna, forming the Panguna Landowners' Association. Serero was selected as 'Chairlady' and Ona as General Secretary. They demanded billions in compensation from CRA for lost revenues and damages, a total of half the mine's profits since it began in 1969.
A report on the SBS Dateline program, broadcast on 26 June 2011, states that Sir Michael Somare, at the time Papua New Guinea's Opposition Leader, had signed an affidavit in 2001 specifying that the PNG government was acting under instruction from mining giant Rio Tinto. SBS reported on 27 June 2011 that Bougainville Copper Limited and Rio Tinto denied this assertion, and rejected ideas that they had started the war.
The company commissioned an environmental review by a New Zealand company. In November 1988 it reported in a meeting with Francis Ona that the Jaba River was not poisoned. Ona stormed out, resigned from his job, and went off, forming the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA). They returned to attack the mine, holding up its magazine, stealing explosives, and committing numerous acts of arson and sabotage. They cut the power supply to the entire mine by blowing up power pylons. These BRA forces were commanded by Sam Kauona, a man who had trained in Australia and defected from the Papuan defence forces to become Ona's right-hand man. Kauona became the spokesperson for the BRA. He continued to conduct hit-and-run raids on mine property and PNG government installations. Following terrorist attacks on mine employees, the company closed the mine on 15 May 1989. Serero died from asthma soon afterward and Ona led the uprising with help from Kauona. Evacuation of all remaining employees of Bougainville Copper Limited followed after the mine's closure, with all personnel withdrawn by 24 March 1990.
The Papuan police, and the army under Jerry Singirok made several arrests, but Ona proved to be elusive. They failed to catch him. (Singirok was later an important player in the Sandline affair.) Attempts to resolve the standoff continued, and Bougainville Copper continued to deny responsibility for the grievances brought by Ona and his supporters. The company suggested that the flying foxes had suffered high fatalities due to a virus brought in from East New Britain, and said that mine operations had not affected the health of the river. The PNG government and Bougainville Copper initially made attempts to resolve some of the outstanding issues, and offered an expensive compromise deal, which was rejected outright by Ona and Kauona.
The Premier of Bougainville, Joseph Kabui, and Father John Momis, the Member for Bougainville in the national parliament and a former leader of the 1975 secession effort, supported Ona and Kauona. They demanded that the company recognise them as legitimate leaders. Both of these men later became involved directly in the independence movement. They were beaten by riot police during a 1989 protest. Allegations of human rights abuses by the PNG army began to arise. These embarrassed the PNG government, which arrested more than 20 men in the army after an investigation.
The BRA conducted violence against the provincial government, including the assassination of John Bika, Kabui's Commerce and Liquor Licensing Minister. He had supported the compromise agreement between the Bougainvilleans and the Government.
As a response to the continuing violence, the national government called a state of emergency; it placed the island under the administration of the Police Commissioner, who was based in Port Moresby. The allegations of human rights abuses continued, and a survey in late 1989 indicated that at least 1600 homes had been destroyed. The conflict showed no signs of ending, and in January 1990, Bougainville Copper announced the mothballing of the Panguna mine.
In 1990, Prime Minister Rabbie Namaliu of Papua New Guinea agreed to pull Papuan troops out, and for international observers to witness the disarmament of the BRA. The agreement was signed by Sam Kauona for the BRA. The police feared attacks by the locals and fled; leaving the island to the control of the BRA. In Port Moresby, there was an attempted military coup against the government following the decision to withdraw; it was defeated.
In May 1990, Papua New Guinea imposed a blockade on Bougainville. Francis Ona responded by unilaterally declaring independence. He set up the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG), but it had little power, and the island began to descend into disarray. The command structure set up by the BRA seldom had any real control over the various groups throughout the island that claimed to be part of the BRA. A number of raskol (criminal) gangs that were affiliated with the BRA, equipped largely with weapons salvaged from the fighting in World War II, terrorised villages, engaging in murder, rape and pillage. Bougainville split into several factions, and a civil war began.
Much of the division in this fighting was largely along clan lines; the BIG/BRA was dominated by the Nasioi clan, causing other islanders to view it with suspicion. On the island of Buka north of Bougainville, a local militia formed and drove out the BRA with the help of Papuan troops, during a bloody offensive in September 1990. Multiple agreements were signed but were not honoured by any parties. The BRA leadership of Ona and Kauona fell out with some of the political leaders, such as Kabui. Several other village militias, which together became known as the resistance and were armed by the PNG defence forces, forced the BRA out of their areas.
Papua New Guinea's policy towards Bougainville hardened after the defeat of the incumbent government at the 1992 elections. New Prime Minister Paias Wingti took a considerably more hardline stance. He angered residents of the Solomon Islands after a bloody raid on one island that was alleged to be supporting the Bougainvilleans. In alliance with the resistance, the Papuan army succeeded in retaking Arawa, the provincial capital, in January 1993. Papuan Foreign Minister Sir Julius Chan attempted to recruit a peacekeeping force from the nations of the Pacific, but Wingti quashed the idea. He subsequently ordered the army to retake the Panguna mine, and was initially successful. However, his government was short-lived. In August 1994 he was replaced as Prime Minister by Chan.
Chan announced his intention to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. He met with Kauona in the Solomon Islands and arranged for a peace conference to be held in Arawa that October, with security provided by an Australia-led South Pacific Peacekeeping Force. However, the BIG leaders boycotted the conference, claiming that their safety could not be guaranteed. In their absence, Chan's government entered into negotiations with a group of chiefs from the Nasioi clan, headed by Theodore Miriung, a former lawyer for the Panguna Landowners Association. This resulted in the establishment of a Bougainville Transitional Government in April 1995, with its capital in Buka. Miriung was named Prime Minister of the new government, but he frequently clashed with Chan by criticising abuses committed by Papuan soldiers.
By 1996, Chan was beginning to get frustrated at the lack of progress. In January, following a round of negotiations in Cairns, Australia, between the BRA, BTG and the PNG government, a PNG defence force patrol boat fired upon Kabui and the other delegates when they returned to Bougainville. The next month, the home of the BIG's representative in the Solomon Islands, Martin Mirori, was firebombed. Chan decided to abandon attempts at peace, and on 21 March 1996, he gave the go-ahead for an invasion of Bougainville, under new commander of the PNG defence forces, Jerry Singirok.
Media coverage of civil war
Cass (1992) argued that The Australian newspaper, in its coverage of the Bougainville conflict, lacked depth and focused on the crisis from Australia's own interests and a conviction that the former colony could not really look after itself. Other researchers pointed out that even though journalists got into Bougainville during the crisis, the coverage was uneven (Cronau, 1994; Denoon & Spriggs, 1992). Dorney argues that, with few exceptions, the Australian media pays scant attention to Australia's former colony unless there is high drama, such as during the Sandline crisis in March 1997, or a disaster relief effort, such as when the Australian Defence Force played a high-profile role during the drought induced famine of 1997–98 (1998, p15). He adds that the rest of the time it is the bizarre and tragic, especially violent crime involving expatriates, that fill the limited agenda. According to Patience (2005), PNG has a public relations problem in terms of its image abroad.
The film, Bougainville - Our Island Our Fight, was notable for covering the Bougainville conflict.
Sandline and ceasefire
After five resolutions in the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, a report by the Special Rapporteur on Summary Executions and Disappearances and a resolution from the Security Council as well as mounting pressure from Amnesty International, ICRC and other human rights groups, the governments of Australia and New Zealand ceased providing military support, forcing Chan to begin to look elsewhere. Thus began the Sandline affair, where the government of Papua New Guinea attempted to hire mercenaries from Sandline International, a London-based private military company, composed primarily of former British and South African special forces soldiers, which had been involved in the civil wars in Angola and Sierra Leone. With negotiations with Sandline ongoing and incomplete, Chan ordered the military to invade anyway. In July the PNG defence forces attempted to seize Aropa airport, the island's principal airfield. However, the attack was a disaster, suffering from poor logistical planning and determined resistance by BRA fighters. In September, BRA militants attacked a PNG army camp at Kangu Beach with the help of members of a local militia group, killing twelve PNGDF soldiers and taking five hostage. The following month, Theodore Miriung was assassinated. Although Chan's government attempted to blame the BRA, a subsequent independent investigation implicated members of the PNG defence force and the resistance militias. Discipline and morale was rapidly deteriorating within the ranks of the PNG military, which had been unable to make any substantial progress in penetrating the mountainous interior of the island and reopening the Panguna mine. Chan decided that his best chance to recapture the Panguna mine was with the Sandline mercenaries.
However, this too turned out to be a disaster. News of his intention to hire mercenaries was leaked to the Australian press, and international condemnation followed. Furthermore, when Jerry Singirok heard of the news, he ordered the detaining of all the mercenaries on arrival. In the resulting saga, Prime Minister Chan was forced to resign, and Papua New Guinea came very close to a military coup. Indeed, the officers in charge had the parliament surrounded, but steadfastly refused to go any further. In the end, however, they got their way, with Chan's resignation and the removal of the mercenaries from Papua New Guinean territory.
Sandline sparked a lowpoint in the Bougainvillean war. Since 1997, a ceasefire has largely held on the island. Breaking with Ona, Kauona and Kabui entered into peace talks with the government of Bill Skate in Christchurch, New Zealand, which culminated in the signing of the Lincoln Agreement in January 1998. Under the terms of the agreement, PNG began to withdraw its soldiers from the island and a multinational Peace Monitoring Group was deployed. Legislation to establish a Bougainville Reconciliation Government failed to win approval in the PNG Parliament.
A Bougainville provincial government of the same status as the other eighteen provinces of Papua New Guinea, with John Momis as Governor, was established in January 1999. However, this government was suspended after facing opposition from both the BIG/BRA and BTG. Arrangements were made for the creation of a modified government, to be established in two phases-the first being the Bougainville Constituent Assembly and the second being the elections for the Bougainville People's Congress. Elections were held in May, and Kabui was named President. However, the legality of this was contested by Momis, with the support of a number of tribal chiefs and Resistance leaders. In November, a new body, the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government, was established, headed by Momis. Rapprochment between Kauona and Momis led to an agreement in which the two bodies would act in consultation. An organised reconciliation process began at the tribal level in the early 2000.
Francis Ona refused to play any part in the peace process, and, with a small minority of fighters, continued to occupy the area around Panguna mine. Throughout the decade, Ona continued to resist overtures to participate in the new government, declaring himself 'king' of Bougainville before dying of malaria in 2005. In March 2005, Dr Shaista Shameem of the United Nations working group on mercenaries asked Fiji and Papua New Guinea for permission to send a team to investigate the presence of former Fijian soldiers in Bougainville. (UNPO) As part of the current peace settlement, a referendum on independence was to be held sometime in the 2010s, with an apparent small minority of fighters left in the centre of the island, and enough instability to ensure that the mine remained closed.
The Australian government has estimated that between 15,000 and 20,000 people have died in the Bougainville Conflict. More conservative estimates put the number of combat deaths as 1,000 to 2,000.
Operation Bel Isi
The Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) on Bougainville in Papua New Guinea was brought about by the civil unrest on the island in the 1990s. The PNG government requested the Australian and New Zealand governments to provide a monitoring group to oversee the ceasefire on the island. This group was made up of both civilian and defence personnel from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu. Support remained strong throughout the PMG's deployment. The PMG was established on the island on 1 May 1998 and took over from the New Zealand Truce Monitoring Group which then departed.
The PMG comprised approx. 100 personnel, was unarmed and wore bright yellow shirts and hats. It had no specific legal power although it did have a mandate under the Lincoln Agreement. It remained definitively neutral at all times. In the early stages of its deployment, it acted primarily as a ceasefire monitoring group and spread information about developments in the peace process. Following the Bougainville Peace Agreement, the PMG focused primarily on facilitating the weapons disposal program, in co-operation with the small UN Observer Mission on Bougainville (UNOMB). There was also some logistical support given to the constitutional consultation and drafting process from 2003.
Support was provided to the group via use of the Loloho wharf on the eastern side of the island by naval vessels from Australia and New Zealand as well as the Kieta airfield by weekly C130 Hercules flights from Townsville. Four UH-1 'Huey' helicopters were supplied by Australian 171st Aviation Squadron, which were painted bright red for visibility and utilised to ferry personnel to inland villages inaccessible by foot or vehicle. With more than 8,000 safe flying hours in the skies of Bougainville to their credit, the choppers made their way back to Australia aboard HMAS Kanimbla. Later, air mobility was outsourced to the commercial Hevilift company, which provided two Bell 212 helicopters.
HQ PMG was based in Arawa and comprised approx. 50 personnel providing coordination for all the operations in Bougainville. The majority of personnel lived in local houses in the Arawa township.
The Logistical Support Team (LST) at the Loloho wharf comprised approx. 70 personnel and provided such services as catering, dental, medical, IT support, vehicle transport and communications to the outlying team sites. LST members lived in the "Opera House" which was an old storage silo for copper, used when the mine was open.
The remaining staff of PMG were located all over Bougainville in team sites monitoring the peace and liaising with local communities. The following locations had team sites in 2000 – Arawa, Sirakatau, Buin, Tonu, Wakunai and Buka.
The Bougainville Peace Agreement decreed that all personnel should be withdrawn from the island by December 2002. However, the group was extended by the applicable governments and withdrew completely by 23 August 2003.
The total cost of Australia's development and military assistance to Bougainville from the financial year 1997–98 until FY 2002–03 was $243.2 million. Over 3500 Australian defence personnel and 300 Australian civilians served in the Peace Monitoring Group during Operation Bel Isi.
For more info about Operation Bel Isi – follow this link Op Bel Isi Website
New Zealand brokered the formation of an Autonomous Bougainville Government, ignoring Ona’s claim to control over 90% of the land and 90% of the people. The governments of PNG and Australia were anxious to regain control of the Panguna mine, still controlled by Ona and BRA.
On 17 May 2004, Francis Ona had himself crowned as King Frances Dominic Dateransy Domanaa, King of Meekamui (meaning “Holy Land”). Ignoring his coronation, the Autonomous Bougainville Government organised its first elections in June 2005. Ona came out of 16 years of hiding into the public light to oppose the elections, which he felt were superfluous. Only 3% of eligible voters participated; Ona attributed this to the persisting loyalty of Bougainville to him and his vision of sovereignty.
- "The Bougainville autonomous government is a minority government and has no mandate of the people to rule, and can effectively be declared an illegal government", wrote Professor Louis Berrigan.
Joseph Kabui was elected President of the Autonomous Government favoured by PNG and brokered by New Zealand.
Perspectives on Autonomy vs Independence
THE PNG PERSPECTIVE:
- Bougainville is part and parcel of PNG
- Bougainville exists and operates under the PNG Constitution
- The people share common culture and tradition
- They are bound by international treaties and conventions that make them citizens of PNG
- PNG has the power under the Constitution and the Parliamentary system to determine, promote and safeguard the form share or size of a government for Bougainville.
Given these facts and other considerations, the actions of PNG could be deemed to be valid in that:
- It negotiated and developed the BCL
- Established the first Provincial Government
- Protected mining installations against the rebellion
- Restored peace and promote restoration and rehabilitation programs
- Chart an autonomous system of government and conduct elections
THE MEEKAMUI PERSPECTIVE:
- Bougainville is a sovereign nation
- Sovereignty is from GOD.
- Sovereignty is not for a metropolitan power to grant a people like Bougainville.
- History has it that generations past were governed under monarchy system. These have been identified and strengthened under the Twin Kingdoms of PAPALA in the Siwai District, and MEEKAMUI in the Crowne Prince Ranges.
- FRANCIS ONA is King Francis Dominic Dateransy Domanaa of the Kingdom of Meekamui and NOAH MUSINGKU is King Peii II according to royal heritage.
- BCL was a copper/gold mine and ONA instigated the rebellion to put a stop to the loss of massive gold reserves stolen through a secret mafia.
- ONA has the resources to restore basic services and fund the sovereign MEEKAMUI government.
- According to Meekamui Government Newsletter – Meekamui Express, ONA has over 80 percent support of the people, coupled with the support of chiefs who signed declarations of loyalty – copies of which have been lodged with the UNITED NATIONS.
Sovereignty in Bougainville
Now, a small memory monument and a declaration of independence engraved in stone commemorates the independence movement. Ignored by western media, but very much a part of Bougainville's present are the independent "Twin Kingdoms of Bougainville" under first King Francis (Ona) and then King David Peii II (Noah Musingku) created out of the areas of the island never recaptured by PNG forces.
In 2005 the World Bank contacted Ona, reigning as King Francis. The Bank recognised his government and his status as King of Me’ekamui and offered financial assistance to his kingdom. This offer was refused.
Francis Ona died in 2005, and was succeeded by Noah Musingku reigning as King David Peii II. Musingku established a governmental infrastructure at his ancestral village of Tonu, and expanded his financial and banking network known as U-Vistract. U-Vistract created an economic flurry in the late 1990s, and is widely seen as a Ponzi scheme. In 2010, however, Musingku’s bank network achieved international recognition and funding, and it appeared to be a significant source of restoration funding for Bougainville. A second election of the Autonomous Government was held in 2008, and John Momis was elected in 2010.
Under 2001 peace accords, Bougainvilleans have been promised a referendum on independence from PNG within the next few years. As of December 2016, it has not been held.
- Wayne Coles-Janess VOD of Bougainville - "Our Island, Our Fight" 1998 available Globally on iTunes. This a link to iTunes UK. Available in most Countries.
- Wayne Coles-Janess. "Inside Bougainville" 1994 ABC ABC Foreign Correspondent Inside Bougainville.
- ABC Foreign Correspondent- World in Focus – Lead Story (1997) Exclusive interview with Francis Ona. Interviewed by Wayne Coles-Janess.
- ABC Foreign Correspondent- Lead Story - Bougainville (1997) by Wayne Coles-Janess.
- Regan, Anthony J.. 2010, Light intervention: Lessons from Bougainville. United States Institutes of Peace. See also the review of this book by Victoria Stead, Anthropological Forum, vol 22(3):320–322, 2012.
- Regan, Anthony and Helga Griffin. 2005, Bougainville Before the Conflict. Canberra, Pandanus Books. ISBN 9781740761994
- Robert Young Pelton. "The Hunter, the Hammer, and Heaven: Journeys to Three Worlds Gone Mad". 2002. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press. ISBN 978-1-58574-416-9.
- The Coconut Revolution (2000) directed by Dom Rotheroe includes a report and interview with Francis Ona and the B.R.A.
- Bougainville – Our Island Our Fight (1998) by the multi-award winning director Wayne Coles-Janess. The first footage of the war from behind the blockade. The critically acclaimed and internationally award-winning documentary is shown around the world.
- Roderic Alley, "Ethnosecession in Papua New Guinea: The Bougainville Case," in Rajat Ganguly and Ian MacDuff, ed.s, Ethnic Conflict and Secessionism in South Asia and Southeast Asia: Causes, Dynamics, Solutions. 2003. New Delhi, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 81-7829-202-5, ISBN 0-7619-9604-4.
-  The Bougainville conflict: A classic outcome of the resource-curse effect?, Michael Cornish
-  Chronology of Bougainville Civil War, By Michael J. Field, AFP, 30 January 1998
- Douglas Oliver, Black Islanders, 1991, p. 3.
- "Ore Reserves". Bougainville Copper Limited. Retrieved 2008-05-31.
-  (Benggong v Bougainville Copper Pty Ltd  HCA 31; (1971) 124 CLR 47)
- "Peace and Conflict Monitor". Retrieved 26 April 2015.
-  p23 Anere, Ray. Ethnic Structure, Inequality and Governance of the Public Sector in Papua New Guinea, 2004, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development
-  http://www.abc.net.au/foreign/stories/s400627.htm
-  Ewins, Rory, The Bougainville Conflict,  accessed 24 June 2009
- "Blood and Treasure". News. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
- "Blood and Treasure". News. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
- "Rio denies starting Bougainville war". News. Retrieved 26 April 2015.
- "About the Company". Retrieved 25 August 2015.
- An irony in several respects. Inter alia, although the Dominions of the British Empire were granted sovereignty by the Statute of Westminster, 1931, Australia refused to accept it until 1942, halfway through the Second World War. Australia accepted responsibility for British New Guinea in 1905, four years after Federation and for German New Guinea from the League of Nations after that War and the United Nations after the Second. But a colony cannot have a colony. Strictly speaking, Australia continued only to be administering other imperial powers' colonies. So it did not "grant" Papua New Guinea independence in 1975 but only acknowledged the unilateral declaration.
- "'7. The cost of the conflict' in Reconciliation and Architectures of Commitment: Sequencing peace in Bougainville by John Braithwaite... – ANU Press". Retrieved 26 April 2015.
-  ABC Foreign Correspondent- World in Focus – Lead Story (1997) Exclusive interview with Francis Ona. Interviewed by Wayne Coles-Janess.
-  Papala Chronicle Issue 3 pp 7,9.
-  (National, 23 May 2004)]
-  Papala Chronicles Issue 17 page 8
-  Papala Chronicles Issue 3 p 7
-  Papala Chronicles Issue12 p 2
- Noah Musingku#Bougainville/Meekamui under Musingku