Bougainville: the Chomsky strategy

Issue 

By Jim Beatson

Noam Chomsky, on his recent trip to Australia, when asked about Bougainville, explained, "I don't think it's a hard one. It's a pretty reasonable if people get to work on it. Bougainville is an easy one for Australian activists to win."

Chomsky's comment made members of the Bougainville Freedom Movement (BFM) sit up.

His underlying assumptions are correct. It's our former colony, it is geographically close (two hours from Cairns). For decades Australia refused to listen to Bougainvillean complaints before its incorporation into Papua New Guinea at independence. Australia is the sole supplier of arms, ammunition, military training, mercenary pilots, military advisers, helicopters and patrol boats. We and PNG are almost solely responsible for the situation and some 5000 plus deaths.

BFM has grown over the past two years with branches in all the mainland capitals, but "winning" (ending Australian military involvement and Bougainvilleans deciding their future without outside interference) sounded ambitious. How?

The Sydney group decided it needs to professionalise its activities to increase effectiveness. BFM wants to attract people with specialist skills, or people willing to develop them, who will do up to one hour's work per week. Are you interested? The specialists BFM initially seeks are:

  • Media contacts officer, who keeps a current file on all journalists who can cover Bougainville stories at each media outlet.

  • Publicity officer, who ensures every possible media outlet, student and union newspaper and group publicises details of events we hold.

  • Parliamentary and union liaison officer, who will develop a file of every MP and union official with an interest in foreign affairs.

  • DTP designer to lay out our newsletter and occasional leaflets.

  • Treasurer, i.e. bookkeeper or accountant, willing to look after our books, participate in developing an ambitious budget and track it, preferably on a spreadsheet.

  • Archivist, who will (1) allocate to BFM members publications each will be responsible for cutting, and (2) collate this material into a central collection.

These specialists would also come to BFM's harmonious weekly meetings, held at members' homes with dinner, drinks and humour on Monday nights, starting at 6.30pm.

Projects currently being planned include:

  • A public launch of a report of all human rights violations on Bougainville in the six years since the war started. The report is a massive document with hundreds of names, details surrounding the event, including place, source, alleged offender and so on.

  • A yet to be disclosed event designed to severely embarrass our government.

  • A film night.

  • A woman and children peace protest at the new Australian Defence Industry plant in Benalla, Victoria.

  • Sending delegates to the UN Socio-Economic Summit in Geneva in July.

  • A recruitment drive to attract more people to the monthly action meetings, held on the first Monday of the month at Newtown Neighbourhood Centre at 7.30pm.

We invite your comments to BFM, PO Box 134, Erskineville NSW 2043.

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