Bougainville Seminar a Success

Bougainville Topography mapThe Bougainville Women’s Seminar in International Women’s Day Week on Wednesday 11th March in State Parliament House was a success. It was in the Theaterette and attended by over 80 people. However, the Lateline DVD which had worked well at Humanist House previously did not work in the Theaterette.

Waratah Rosemarie Gillespie who had experienced some of the trauma in Bougainville, and wrote a book with sworn statements from Bougainvilleans, spoke explaining those statements some of which were read out by several actors of note such as Lynda Stoner, Andrew Vial, Fran Macpherson, Isobel Kirk, Gillian Levett, Janice Potten, Jonathan Marshall and Sean Foley.

The Chorus of Women in their attractive red outfits sang several meaningful songs to enhance the occasion.

Waratah, Joanne & Affie
Waratah, Joanne & Affie

Joanne Dateransi one of the Bougainvillean women who had experienced the trauma, was brought out by Waratah with the help of Ann Young as well as finances from the Humanist Society of NSW, members of the UNAANSW Executive Committee, and WILPF NSW.? These organisations had joined together to convene this event.? Joanne was to be the keynote speaker and had applied for a 3 month visa but had only been given a month visa by the Australian High Commission. Also her trip was full of obstacles so that she arrived 1 hour after the seminar. Why the sabotage?! Therefore, some of her speaking engagements which had been shown in the letters of invitation had to be cancelled.? Nevertheless, as the Convenor, I was able? to arrange for Joanne to speak at HumSocNSW, UNAANSW Executive Committee and WILPF NSW. Waratah managed to get Joanne to speak at the Open Forum and some other venues. We also managed to have 2SER interview Joanne on air. So we were able to make the best of her limited visit.

Furthermore, Valerie Weekes and Dr. Stefania Siedlecky spoke at the Seminar on the UNAA Resolution 1325 which, put simply, has to do with women being consulted in disputes before war is declared.

The book written by Waratah Rosemarie Gillespie: “Running with Rebels, behind the lies in Bougainville’s hidden war” (Ginibi Productions) was ready for sale at the seminar and I highly recommend it. For information about where it can be purchased contact me on 0421 101 163.

Oddly enough, after media releases were sent out to several media sources there was no media covering the event, apart from 2SER. What can we think other than there is apathy for the atrocities experienced by people in that war, or that mining companies put pressure on the media to keep everything quiet! Regardless of this sabotage we overcame and people heard the truth about the situation.

Our thanks to Lee Rhiannon MLC who was our host at the Seminar and made the opening speech.

The women of Bougainville who are the landowners will fight to keep the mining company giant out of their land, unless their needs are met.