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Bougainville Author Tells Of War Women's Survival

Bougainville Author Tells Of War Women's Survival

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Peace advocate Josephine Sirivi today talked of the personal stories of Bougainville's women survivors during a decade of civil war that inspired her into publishing a new book about the conflict.

Speaking at the New Zealand launching of the book "As Mothers of the Land", she said she thought of the special life stories she wanted her children to know after the conflict had devastated her homeland.

"I wanted to have my story written but it was not fair to simply write my story," she said.

"I'm a leader of the women in Bougainville. There are women with other stories that also need to be told - that are special.

"It was important for our next generation to learn about our war experiences and for me to keep and record the stories of our women's contribution to the peace process."

The launching of the book, jointly edited by Sirivi and Marilyn Taleo Havini, was hosted by Auckland University of Technology's new Office of Pasifika Advancement.

More than 10,000 people are estimated to have died in the civil war during the 1990s and as a result of Papua New Guinea's military blockade preventing medical supplies and food reaching the island.

Sirivi's husband, former Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) general Sam Kauona, praised restoration and development progress on the island.

"I saw the destruction of not only the land, but also society," he said.

"It's why I worked effortlessly to end the war and once again restore peace among our people and on Bougainville."

Launching the book, senior lecturer in journalism David Robie, of AUT's School of Communication Studies, described it as "deeply moving".

"Sometimes it is deeply shocking, as all 11 women contributors catalogue the horrors of war, the brutal deaths, the disappearances, the rapes - of both women and men, the hardships for the children, and the deprivation without food and medical supplies."

It was an "inspiring testament to the human spirit" in the face of such suffering.

Josephine and Sam Kauona Sirivi also spoke to journalism and social sciences students at AUT, and addressed a public meeting organised by Auckland's Global Peace and Justice Movement.

They are touring other NZ cities to launch the book before they travel to the Solomon Islands and return to Bougainville.

The book is published by Pandanus, an imprint of Australian National University's Research School on Pacific and Asian Studies.



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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