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Momis renews attack on Jubilee report – ‘flawed & destructive’


BOUGAINVILLE president John Momis (pictured) has reiterated earlier criticism of Jubilee Australia’s report, Voices of Bougainville, calling statements by the NGO “misleading” and “condescending”.

In a wide-ranging reaction to public declarations made by Jubilee executives and an academic who oversaw the production of the report, Dr Momis said he was gravely concerned about misleading statements.

Reacting to Jubilee chairman Luke Fletcher’s assertion that it was “very unlikely” the report will be withdrawn”, Dr Momis said, “He made it quite clear that Jubilee had essentially pre-judged the issues involved.”

“Not only does Jubilee imply that it is breaking remarkable new ground by revealing opposition to mining,” Dr Momis went on to say, “ but there is also a strong implication that such [Panguna] voices have been excluded from debates on the subject. “There is absolutely no basis for such views….

“The ABG is a government committed to consultation and to listening. We are not squashing any voice. We welcome the contributions of those who oppose mining. The strong opposite implication in your report is unjustified and unfair.”

Dr Momis also reinforced his criticism of Jubilee for conducting its work in secret and rejected Mr Fletcher’s defence that it was “a deliberate strategy to try and come in as independent and not be perceived and to be part any particular agenda.”

“Surely independence can be demonstrated by means other than having no communication of any kind, or at any time, with the ABG or the landowner associations,” Dr Momis said. “Many other researchers work in Bougainville and remain independent.

“The ABG and the landowner associations are significant stakeholders, and as such at the very least a draft of the report could have been provided to us. We may even have assisted you with information that reduced the factual errors and significant misrepresentations that litter the report.”

Dr Momis continued with a challenge to Jubilee’s collaborators in the research – the Bismarck Ramu Group [BRG] and the International State Crime Initiative – which he characterised as organisations “vehemently opposed to large-scale mining and to the ABG’s mining policy."

“Perhaps Mr Fletcher has not had the opportunity to examine the remarkable range of utterly unsubstantiated, deeply unfair and unbalanced, and often quite inflammatory and divisive attacks on the ABG, on me, and on advisers to the ABG, made on [the blog] PNG Mine Watch,” Dr Momis said.

“These attacks are part of a concerted campaign mounted against the ABG since about February 2013, in relation to its efforts to develop an appropriate mining policy for Bougainville. Significantly, most attacks on the blog are anonymous.”

Of another collaborator, Dr Kristian Lasslett, Dr Momis said he was “apparently well-intentioned, articulate… and often puts well-reasoned positions…. but he is cocooned in a particular view of Bougainville’s history.

“He is focused on what he sees as not only the single worst set of wrongs that has occurred in Bougainville – namely actions of Rio Tinto/BCL in the 1988-1990 period – but also the imperative to hold Rio Tinto/BCL to account for such wrongs.

“In his view, Rio Tinto/BCL can have no place in contemporary Bougainville without first being held to account. Should we Bougainvilleans (or the government Bougainvilleans elected to represent them) foolishly decide otherwise, he would seek to save us from our misguided course…..

“Perhaps the most serious issue here is not so much the ongoing grossly unfair campaign against the ABG, but more that those involved have never put any of their allegations to me, the ABG or the advisers that they are attacking.

“They never check the facts, which seem to be phenomena irrelevant to their purpose.

“Let me be clear: there has been absolutely no contact with me, the ABG, nor the relevant ABG advisers by not only Lasslett, but also the anonymous attackers on the BRG website, and those administering the BRG blog. Is this really the track record of ‘professional organisations’?”

Concluding his letter, Dr Momis said he was troubled that “Jubilee and its collaborators appear to have such little understanding of, or interest in, the complexity and difficulty of the current situation we face in post-conflict Bougainville.

“Yes, the concerns and fears of the interviewees presented in the report are present amongst Bougainvilleans, and yes, there are a few for whom such views are dominant,” he said.

“But most of us hold far more complex and nuanced views that we bring to bear in trying to weigh the still rather limited options that face us as we try to find a sustainable road to development, to highest autonomy, and possibly to independence.

“In the fragile situation we are dealing with, advancing the views recorded in this report as truly representing the views of Bougainville’s ‘mine-affected communities’ – as this report does – is misleading, divisive and destructive.

“The Jubilee Report is deeply flawed. Jubilee Australia’s Board bears responsibility for allowing such a misleading and irresponsible document to be released, and for limiting and redressing the damage it can cause.”

Disclosure: Jackson PR Associates, which is part-owned by Keith Jackson, consults to Bougainville Copper Limited


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