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Bougainville stories come flooding back in new play

BRIAN KARLOVSKY | Hornsby Advocate (Sydney)

Robert CockburnIT'S 20 YEARS SINCE former London Times journalist Robert Cockburn, who was covering the Bougainville conflict, reported for his newspaper and the BBC on the murder of a young Bougainvillean bus driver.

But the chilling scene and the saga of a mining company's activities prompting civil war in Bougainville, is set to be brought to life in a fictional drama, Hotel Hibiscus, at the Zenith Theatre this month.

"There was the murder of a young village bus driver, who I found in the mortuary," Mr Cockburn, 59, said. "I felt so moved because it was an innocent who was caught up and shot and that's where the play began. It was very immediate and very personal."

Set on fictional Hibiscus Island in Papua New Guinea, Hotel Hibiscus is a brutally revealing account of Australian involvement in the six year "dirty war" on Bougainville.

Mr Cockburn, who also covered the Maralinga Royal Commission while Australian correspondent for The Times, said there were still a lot of questions to be answered.

"There was a recent announcement in the US Supreme Court where it had given them permission to bring a case on genocide and war crimes against the miners operating at Bougainville at that time," he said.

"That case is on going and brings the story right up to date and throws it into the future. I will be watching with a professional eye what happens in the court case."

Hotel Hibiscus is an Australian political thriller that questions our complicity and silence in war crimes carried out just 20 years ago. Thornleigh resident Robert Cockburn wrote it while he reported on the Bougainville conflict in the 1990s.

Photo: Kristi Miller

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Joe Wasia

Very interesting. Wish to have a copy when it's available.

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