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Bougainville

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by

Kelly Yeung

on 3 February 2011

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Transcript of Bougainville

Bougainville Attitude towards their land... "...to Bougainvilleans, the land is like the skin on the back of your hand. You inherit it and it is your duty to pass it on to your children in as good a condition, or better, than that in which you received it. You would not expect us to sell our skin, would you?" "Land is our life, land is our physical life - food and sustenance. Land is our social life, it is marriage; it is status; it is security; it is politics; in fact, it is our only world. When you take our land, you cut out the very heart of our existence." - Bougainvillean students, 1974 What impacts were there on the people and their environment? People were forced to move out of the area regardless of their protests. Eight hundred people lost their land The unwanted materials from the mine was dumped nearby which formed a 100 metre high wall of waste. More destruction was caused when the wastes and chemicals were washed away. Sulphur, arsenic, copper, zinc, cadmium and mercury were all dangerous chemicals coming from the mine. These, along with some other waste products turned the whole river system bright blue and caused it to become biologically dead. 1400 people had their fishing rights jeopardized. Fishes were found floating in the water, dead. ‘All aquatic life in the Jaba Valley has been killed’ - Scientist M.R. Chambers in 1986. The food chain was poisoned, this caused long term health problems to those who tried to remain on the land. The mine created loss of land and pollution. It also destroyed the traditional living creatures in many areas of the island. 'We don't grow healthy crops any more, our traditional customs and values have been disrupted and we have become mere spectators as our earth is being dug-up, taken away and sold for millions.' - Perpetua Serero, leader of Bougainville's matrilineal landowners.It is in this context - people displaced, traditional ways of life under attack and the island that supports them being killed by a foreign multi-national - that the Bougainvilleans took action to defend themselves and the earth Once the mine started processing copper, the destruction got worse. 220 hectares of rainforest were poisoned, felled, burned and
bulldozed.
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