How a US government loan enabled an environmentally destructive project plagued by lethal landslide, police repression and civil unrest.
This report appeared in The Nation in April 2014. It was produced in partnership with the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute with additional support from the H.D. Lloyd Fund for Investigative Journalism and the Fund for Investigative Journalism.
By Ian T. Shearn
,January 23, 2012, was a routine day for 15-year-old Jackson Piwago. Like every other weekday, his father met him after school, and the two walked hand in hand back to their home in Tumbi, a small village in the remote, mountainous Hela Province of Papua New Guinea. There, at the foot of the Gigira Mountain Range, Jackson went about his chores: looking after the family’s pigs, collecting firewood, fetching water and cooking sweet potatoes. He chatted with some of his father’s nine wives, as well as his many brothers and cousins. As on most evenings, dinner was boisterous and joyful.
Then, just as he did every night, Jackson fell asleep alongside his father, using his dad’s arm as a pillow. Jokoya Piwago, a prominent Ware tribal chief, recalled that night vividly in a recent conversation. He remembered his son imploring him, “Please, Daddy, buy me the bicycle that I need to go to school and come back…. Buy me a bicycle tomorrow.”
Jokoya paused and said, “That’s the last word that he spoke to me.”