The Coconut Revolution
Directed by Dom Rotheroe
“My fighting on Bougainville is based on these factors. One, we are fighting for man and his culture and two, land and environment. And the third one is independence.”
This is the modern-day story of a native peoples remarkable victory over Western Colonial power. A Pacific island rose up in arms against giant mining corporation Rio Tinto Zinc (RTZ) – and won despite a military occupation and blockade. When RTZ decided to step up production at the Panguna Mine on the island of Bougainville, they got more than they bargained for. The islands people had enough of seeing their environment ruined and being treated as pawns by RTZ.
RTZ refused to compensate them, so the people decided it was time to put an end to outside interference in the islands affairs. To do this they forcibly closed down the mine.
The Papua New Guinea Army (PNGDF) were mobilised in an attempt to put down the rebellion. The newly formed Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) began the fight with bows & arrows and sticks & stones. Against a heavily armed adversary they still managed to retain control of most of their island. Realising they were beaten on the ground, the PNGDF imposed a gunboat blockade around Bougainville, in an attempt to strangle the BRA into submission. But the blockade seemed to have little or no effect.
With no shipments getting in or out of the island, how did new electricity networks spring up in BRA held territory? How were BRA troops able to drive around the island without any source of petrol or diesel?
What was happening within the blockade was an environmental and spiritual revolution. The ruins of the old Panguna mine were being recycled… to supply the raw materials for the worlds first eco-revolution.
A David and Goliath story of the 21st century, The Coconut Revolution will appeal to people of all backgrounds.
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