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Ona, Francis (ca. 1953–2005)

Justin Corfield

Subject History
Social Movements » Collective Behaviour

Place Oceania

Period 2000 - present
1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics bibliography, ecology, revolution

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.01133.x


The leader of the Bougainville secessionist movement, Francis Ona led an uprising against the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) leading from protests against the Panguna mine operated by Bougainville Copper. Bougainville Island is in Melanesia, in the Solomon Islands, east of PNG. Francis Ona was born in about 1953 and spent his early life working for Bougainville Copper, a subsidiary of the Rio Tinto Group, which operated the Panguna mine. Ona's concern for the ecological and environmental impact of the mine on Bougainville began allegedly after catching a deformed fish in nearby waters of Panguna. Ona wanted higher royalties paid to landowners on the island of Bougainville, and claimed that the Panguna Landowners Association (PLA) was not representing the interests of all the indigenous owners on the island. This led to Ona and his cousin Peputua Serero forming the New PLA, which gained support from indigenous opponents of the Panguna mine, and also mineworkers. When the government of Papua New Guinea held an inquiry, claims of the environmental damage being caused by Panguna mine were dismissed at a time when the mine was the biggest earner of foreign exchange for the government. Ona then established the Bougainville Interim Government and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), which began to engage in guerilla sabotage attacks on the mine. In May 1989 the BRA destroyed ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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