Bougainville: A Textbook in Colonization

The Most Revolutionary Act

Ophir*

Directed by Alexandre Berman and Olivier Pollet

Film Review

This documentary traces the history behind the 2019 referendum in which 98% of Bougainville island (which is mainly run by women) voted for independence from Papua New Guinea (PNG)

The referendum has its history in the “Bougainville Crisis,” a ten-year insurrection which the government of PNG lost, despite receiving major military support from Australia. The independence referendum was a condition of the 2000 peace treaty.

The insurrection, in turn, stemmed from the brutal exploitation of Ophir residents, many of whom were driven off their land. The oppressors? The the PNG government and a major copper and gold mining operation run by a Rio Tinto** subsidiary. The Paguna mine closed down when the insurrection started in 1989. However even after 30 years, Ohpir’s fragile tropical ecosystem is only just starting to recover.

The film offers numerous scenes from the independence campaign…

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