145;Biggest rebel with a causePublished by MAC on 2005-07-26
Biggest rebel with a cause
26 July 2005
FORMER Chief Ombudsman Simon Pentanu yesterday described Francis Ona as the biggest rebel with a cause that has emerged in the Pacific Region.
I say he was the biggest rebel because he took on a multinational mining company and did what no one has done on such a scale anywhere in the world. He forced the mine to shut down and took charge, said Mr Pentanu.
He said many Bougainvilleans, particularly the Nasioi people of Central Bougainville, believe he represented a good and justifiable cause on behalf of all Bougainvilleans.
Mr Pentanu said Ona took the task upon himself when in 1989 he confronted the giant Bougainville Copper Mine in protests over issues of environmental pollution, inadequate distribution and unfair management of mining royalties.
He said their concerns were falling on deaf ears of the mining giant and members of his family who were trustees of the royalty moneys from the mine.
He described late Mr Ona as a comitted and relentless leader who stood for his people in what he believed in.
Francis was a unifying force in a not so obvious way to many outside observers, he said.