Bougainville Revolutionary Army Guerrillas

Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA)

The Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) was formed in 1988 by Bougainvilleans seeking independence from Papua New Guinea.

Bougainville Revolutionary Army Guerrillas (AFP/Torsten Blackwood)
Bougainville Revolutionary Army guerrillas on Papua New Guinea.
Senior Australian police and civil servants have begun arriving in the Pacific nation to launch a high-risk campaign aimed at bringing law and order to one of the most dangerous places in the world.

BRA leaders argue that Bougainville is ethnically part of the Solomon Islands and has not profited from the extensive mining that has occurred on the island. In 1989, BRA leaders proclaimed Bougainville independent from Papua New Guinea and established the Bougainvillean Interim Government. As a result, the fighting between BRA and the Papua New Guinea military, with support from Australia, escalated.

About the Island of Bougainville

Bougainville is the largest of the Solomon Islands and is a province of Papua New Guinea.

Bougainville and the adjacent island of Buka are sometimes called the North Solomons, and are ecologically and geographically, although not politically, considered part of the Solomon Islands. Buka, Bougainville, and most of the Solomons are part of the Solomon Islands rain forests ecoregion.

Bougainville was named after the French navigator Louis Antoine de Bougainville. During colonial times it came under German administration as part of German New Guinea. It was only in 1899, when, by agreement between Germany and Britain, Bougainville was separated from the other Solomon Islands, against the wishes of the Bougainvillean people. As a result, Germany retained control of Bougainville, whereas the Solomon Islands changed to British hands.

The island is rich in copper and possibly gold.

The Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) ostensibly reclaimed the country from corporate mining interests in the 1980s, in the form of Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) an Australian controlled company.

A nine-year secessionist revolt ended in 1997, after claiming some 20,000 lives.

About The Solomon Islands

The Solomon Islands are a nation in the South Pacific Ocean, east of Papua New Guinea and is part of the British Commonwealth. It consists of more than 990 islands, which together cover a land mass of 28,000 square kilometres.

About Louis Antoine de Bougainville

Louis Antoine de Bougainville (November 11, 1729 – August 31, 1811) was a French navigator born in Paris, France, the son of a notary.

In early life, he studied law, but soon abandoned the profession, and in 1753 entered the army in the corps of musketeers.

At the age of twenty-five he published a treatise on the integral calculus, as a supplement to De l’Hôpital’s treatise, Des infiniment petits.

Source: The Free Bougainville

Many members of the predominantly Muslim Mandingo minority encountered hostility when they sought to return, after the end of the civil war, to their villages in Lofa, Bong, and Nimba counties. Many Mandingos were unable to reoccupy their homes, which had been taken over by squatters. Members of the Lorma, Gio, and Mano minorities generally held all Mandingos responsible for atrocities committed by the ULIMO-K faction during the civil war. The lack of competent security forces and a fully functioning judiciary in these areas prevented many Mandingos from seeking redress. Mandingo citizens faced growing discrimination, arbitrary arrests, and violence based on their ethnicity; many ethnic Mandingos sought refuge in Guinea after the Government increased arrests following the detention of journalist Hassan Bility.

In a statement issued on 25 April 1999 in the United States, the Liberia Coalition for Reconciliation and Democracy (LCRD), referring to itself simply as RESISTENCE, said it had decided to carry out tactics of “positive resistance” to degrade and disable Taylor’s ability to reign in Liberia. The group confirmed that it was made up of former fighters of Taylor’s NPFL, and the disbanded Liberia Peace Council of George Boley, the break-away ULIMOs of Roosevelt Johnson and Alhaji Kromah, the Armed Forces of Liberia and the Lofa Defense force of Taylor’s incumbent Youth and Sports Minister, Francois Massaquoi. The provincial city of Voinjama in Lofa County is a one-time stronghold of the former ULIMO-K leader, Alhaji G.V. Kromah.

Despite LURD’s declared commitments to the peace process mediated by the West African regional body, ECOWAS, the group has developed a strong mistrust for West African leaders, who they allege seem to back Taylor.