In tribute to Zenzeng Tore Bofirie Mari
From the Kundiawa News 50 years ago today

Bougainville alerts Australia to actions of ‘prejudicial’ NGO

President John Momis with his CabinetKEITH JACKSON

BOUGAINVILLE President John Momis has alerted the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea to the activities of Jubilee Australia and renewed a demand that the NGO recant its report purporting to reflect the views of “mine affected communities” in the Panguna area.

Under pressure from Dr Momis, Jubilee Australia has already backed away from one major assertion by saying the Voices of Bougainville report “reflects the views only of the [65] people in the Panguna area who were consulted in the study.”

But it has not accepted other criticisms of the study’s preconceptions and methodology and refused to withdraw the report.

In a second letter this week, Dr Momis told the Jubilee board that he and his government took particular exception to its statement that his many earlier criticisms of the report were “without basis”.

He said that Jubilee’s response to criticism reflected “a pre-determined position” and “a determination to engage in advocacy rather than scientific research directed at establishing facts about the complex situation [around Panguna].”

While the Jubilee board had told Dr Momis it intended “no disrespect” to the ABG and landowner organisations, the President said it was his "considered view that Jubilee has in fact exhibited grave disrespect.”

Dr Momis pointed out that at least six significant issues raised in an earlier letter had been ignored by Jubilee, including “major factual errors and misrepresentations” about the continuing consultation process with mining-affected communities.

“Many of the errors reflect a view that resonates strongly with the particular view of Bougainville’s recent history held by [Dr Kristian] Lasslett and those involved in the Bismarck Ramu Group,” he said.

“While Jubilee may have found its partners in this research ‘highly professional’, they in fact have a track record of bias on issues concerning the history and the future of mining in Bougainville.”

Dr Momis went on to say that a claimed purpose of its research “was to document views of ‘a wide cross-section’ of the population.

“But it is very clear you did not do that, but rather, selected a narrow cross-section of views of a particular kind….

“The answer is to withdraw the current deceptive report and - if you wish to - publish an honest version of what you did and what it means.”

Dr Momis said opposition to mining is not a new topic among Bougainvilleans.

“I emphasise again that such views are well known and respected in Bougainville and are listened to and taken seriously by the ABG and the landowner organisations,” he said.

“The ABG is a representative government, like any government, required to make decisions on behalf of its people.

“We are dealing with a complex and difficult situation where peace is fragile, where many groups remain uncertain about the peace process, where there are numerous continuing divisions, and where complex interests are seeking to influence decision-making in Bougainville to their own benefit.

“Through its report, Jubilee has inserted itself into this difficult situation by releasing a deeply flawed report that adds to pressures contributing to complexity and divisions.

“In the process, you are damaging not only your own reputation as an NGO claiming to undertake ‘scientific research’, but also NGOs and researchers more generally.

“You might be surprised at just how upset many Bougainvilleans are about your report, and the divisiveness of such flawed work.”

Disclosure: Bougainville Copper Ltd is a client of Jackson PR Associates, of which the publisher of PNG Attitude is part owner


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John Kaupa Kamasua

Pardon my ignorance but is it possible for other Bougainvilleans and other Papua New Guineans to have access to this report. So that we can also make informed conclusions.

It was linked to in PNG Attitude a week or so back. At the end of the following article there are links both to the original report and John Momis's response - KJ

Dr Kristian Lasslett

There are some serious errors in your introduction Keith, but its not my place to correct them.

However, since you have chosen to publish allegations against me of bias - a very serious allegation indeed, given my profession - I presume you would be kind enough to forward evidence to support this contention?

Indeed, this is the third time you have published an article that makes very serious accusations that question the rigour of my work. None of them to date have forwarded any evidence, not one example, not one quote, not one critique. Just attacks.

As you know my work as it pertains to Bougainville focuses on the role Rio Tinto (via BCL) and the Australian government played in facilitating gross human rights abuses. The research was based on interviews with four GMs, three MDs and a company secretary at BCL, including their counterparts in the PNG and Australian governments. In total 50+ interviews with the most senior officials. This was further corroborated by internal documentary sources.

My research is published in leading international scientific journals, including the British Journal of Criminology, Theoretical Criminology, Critical Criminology, Critical Sociology, Crime Law and Social Change, and State Crime. Accordingly, it has passed through a process of robust peer review.

I think therefore you can hardly treat these accusations of bias in my research as axiomatically true, there must be some burden of proof on you as the publisher, especially given you have been the central hub of these personal attacks.

I am more than happy to accept critique; and I give it out. But when I do I clearly cite my sources, and the body of evidence I rely on.

I have always been I hope a decent and honest contributor to your blog Keith (well at least I hope I have); and I have supported writers you have championed. Surely you can do me the courtesy in return of providing evidence in support of the many serious allegations you have published over the years.

Sadly this has the air of what we see in the environmental and health sciences. A report raises serious issues, and in the aftermath there is an attempt to undermine the findings by attacking individuals.

My report was a fair summary of Dr Momis's most recent letter to Jubilee Australia. This letter was linked to at the end of an article by Dr Momis we published yesterday, so readers can judge my report's fairness for themselves if they wish. Of course, the champion of ad hominem attacks on this subject has been the Bismarck Ramu Group's 'PNG Mine Watch' blog. This approach, unsurprisingly, has led to verbal retaliation by some Bougainvilleans including the President. I am not attacking Dr Lasslett nor adducing evidence about his research but simply reporting what others have adduced about a project he has an association with. If Dr Lasslett wishes to disprove or otherwise contest statements made about his research by Dr Momis, then he should do so - with Dr Momis. I seem to recall the Bougainville President issuing an invitation along these lines on an earlier occasion - KJ

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