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Death of Bougainville patriot Reuben Siara

Reuben Siara
Reuben Siara - "We remember him for his patriotism and his will to progress the ideals of our revolutionary cause"

| President, Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Source: New Dawn FM News

BUKA - Bougainville has truly lost one of its great sons in the passing of Reuben Siara.

Reuben was a man who believed in Bougainville’s aspirations for independence and contributed immensely to our revolutionary cause.

At a time when many people fled Bougainville as the crisis erupted in the late 1980s, Reuben was one of the very few professionals who stayed back to fight for our cause.

As a lawyer, he was legal counsel to the Bougainville Revolutionary Army high command and one of Francis Ona's top advisors.

He was the person who crafted the 1990 Unilateral Declaration of Independence.

Reuben was a voice of reason to the BRA hierarchy and counseled on legal matters that would lay the foundation for Bougainville’s independence.

Despite his remaining a staunch Mekamui supporter, I must commend him for his approach to peaceful integration with the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Reuben was instrumental in having the Mekamui Faction integrated into the ABG and opening its doors to development and services to the Panguna area.

As president of Bougainville and a friend of Reuben Siara, I am deeply saddened by his passing.

We will remember him by his patriotism and his will to progress the ideals of our revolutionary cause in times of war and times of peace.

On behalf of the ABG and the people of Bougainville, I offer our condolences to the family of Reuben.

May his soul rest in eternal peace.


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Bernie Woiwod

Hi Keith - With another anniversary of the eruption of Mt Lamington coming up I would like to mention something that has been happening in the background.

For some 10 years now a project has been in progress to establish a suitable memorial to the Papuan victims of the eruption.

There is a memorial at Popondetta established in 1952 with the names of the European victims on plaques on the concrete cross. It has always been felt that that did not represent the 3,000 plus Papuan victims.

A committee was formed and an architect, David Gole, has donated his time to draw up plans for a suitable memorial to be built at Hohorita village telling the story of the Papuan loss of life.

The Northern (Oro) Province Government indicated that they would give financial support to the project. In 2011 I attended the 60th Anniversary services of the eruption at Hohorita village and a tree planting marked the proposed location of the memorial near the Kokoda-Popondetta Road.

Unfortunately the project did not proceed as the promised funding was not delivered, despite other private donations supporting the project.

It was then decided to move the project to the Popondetta Memorial Park adjacent to the present Lamington Memorial Cross. A smaller plan was drawn up by architect David Gole.

Permission for the memorial was authorised by the Popondetta Urban Council and the Provincial Government has again promised financial support. The planned memorial incorporates several plaques telling the story of the eruption and loss of like. Hopefully work on the project will commence early 2022.

Mr Ross Bastiaan AM of Victoria Australia has agreed to donate his time and create the main plaque for the memorial. Ross has established some 200 plaques mainly of a military nature around the world including here in PNG marking the Kokoda track and Buna engagements. See here:

He is now preparing the story of the Mt Lamington eruption and hopes to have the plaque completed by mid-2022.

By January 2022 it will be 71 years since the eruption and the number of surviving victims still alive is reducing every year.

It would be fitting if the memorial could be completed while we still have some survivors with us. It is not beyond the financial capabilities of the National Government and even the Australian Government to support this project and see it completed in the near future.

Both have been approached in the past and other than supporting the project in principle have declined to offer financial backing.

The eruption was the greatest tragedy and loss of life in the history of PNG and Australia who were the Administrators in 1951 and I think it is time a suitable memorial to be completed.

Thanks for that, Bernie, and for the splendid work you and your committee are doing. Of course, the Papua New Guinean victims of that disaster need to be recognised, not just the expatriate victims. The Australian and PNG governments should not have to be shamed into contributing, but if necessary PNG Attitude is prepared to do that. Meanwhile, you can send further information to me and your committee's bank account details (assuming that has been organised) at benelong at - KJ

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