Perched on the north-west tip of the Solomon Islands archipelago, Bougainville forms part of Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) easternmost border region. Despite its remote location the development of a major copper deposit in Bougainville’s Crown Prince Ranges made the island one of PNG’s most strategically significant areas. Consequently, when customary landowners used industrial sabotage to close the mine in 1988, this regional dispute soon transformed into a major national crisis.As the crisis unfolded the national government chose to deploy the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) in an effort to reopen the mine and suppress the landowner movement. Extra-judicial killings, forced displacement, the internment of civilians, and the denial of humanitarian aid, were just some of the egregious tactics employed by the military. No one was exempted from the violence.Facing severe financial and logistic constraints the national government turned to the mine’s operator, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), and PNG’s principal international benefactor, Australia, to prop up the PNGDF. Both organisations provided considerable assistance. As a result of these joint efforts, approximately 10,000 to 15,000 people were killed on Bougainville. In the following case study you will be exposed to the calculations, relations, and decisions that led two democratic states and a major multinational mining corporation, to organise a systematic campaign of state violence that terrorised the residents of Bougainville for almost a decade.
|Publication status||Published - 1 Aug 2012|