Plan to break Bougainville blockade

Issue 

Plan to break Bougainville blockade

By Peter Boyle

MELBOURNE — A group of solidarity activists plan to try to run the Papua New Guinea military's blockade of Bougainville later this year in a refurbished 90-year-old ketch called Flinders.

The 45-foot former Bass Sea trader will carry desperately needed medical and educational supplies to the people of Bougainville.

The captain and owner of the ketch, Chris O'Dwyer, told Green Left that he was not worrying about the dangers implicit in the project. "As a sailor I know it gets dangerous as soon as you get out of Port Phillip Bay. And it's a good cause so, God permitting, we will make it".

Danny Brown, one of the activists in the project, said that the aim was to support the right of self-determination of the people of Bougainville. Australians had a duty to show solidarity especially because the Australian government was sending $57 million of military aid to PNG this year and has supplied helicopter gunships for use against the Bougainvilleans.

Money is being collected for the medical and educational supplies and for the cost of the trip. There are also considerable stores of supplies in Australian and the Solomon Islands that have not been able to be delivered to Bougainville. PNG forces have intercepted boats carrying aid and even attacked storage places in the Solomons.

The Flinders is presently carrying out fundraising cruises around Port Phillip Bay. It will stop in Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns and Honiara on its way to Bougainville. Any assistance is welcome; the project can be contacted through Danny Brown, (03) 419 8700.