This website has not been updated for some years. As of September 2004, a new website - Solidarity South Pacific - has superseded this, though this website has been left as it may still contain useful content.

Bougainville Archive

This page carries March 1999's Bougainville news updates. You can find the latest updates here, and more archives here

If you don't know what all this is about, Bougainville - The long struggle for freedom tells the whole story of the colonialisation, successful revolution and continuing war being waged against the life of Bougainville by western governments on behalf of corporations.

Index: Latest Updates

Sandline to Pursue PNG for What it's Owed

The mercenary deployment company, Sandline International, has pledged to keep pursuing Papua New Guinea for what it is owed.

Sandline puts the amount at more than 40-million dollars. Lawyers for Sandline say they're pleased the Supreme Court in the Australian state of Queensland has rejected the PNG Government's application for leave to appeal against the decision of an international arbitration tribunal. Sean Dorney reports: "Judge Brian Ambrose of the Queensland Supreme Court ruled that the Queensland courts had no jurisdiction over issues involving foreign law and he awarded costs - previously estimated at seventy thousand dollars - against PNG. Michael Klug, Sandline's Brisbane lawyer, says PNG should not waste any more money in what he calls a futile attempt to delay the inevitable. "Unless full payment is now made immediately, Sandline will maintain its worldwide action to recover its full claim, plus interest, plus costs, which now exceed forty million dollars Australian. Sandline knows where those assets are. PNG can run but it cannot hide."

Source: Radio Australia World News - 31 March 1999

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PNG Cabinet to Consider its Next Move in Battle with Sandline

The Papua New Guinea Cabinet meets later today to consider its next move in the long legal battle with the Sandline mercenary company. Richard Dinnen reports P-N-G yesterday lost a legal challenge in the Queensland Supreme Court and has to pay Sandline about 40 million dollars.

Source: Radio Australia World News - 31 March 1999

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Narokobi Warning on Self-Rule

THE Government has been accused of handing Bougainville its independence on a golden platter.

There was also nothing to stop other regions in PNG asking for their independence, Opposition Leader Bernard Narokobi told a public forum in Madang at the weekend. Speaking to a crowd of about 1000 people on Saturday, Mr Narokobi said: "Everyone knows that the elections that are being conducted are illegal, but the Government is allowing it to go ahead. They have also allowed them to write their own constitution. They have given Bougainville their independence what is now going to stop other parts of PNG seeking independence?" Mr Narokobi also blamed the Electoral Commission for ignoring its constitutional responsibility in challenging the legality of the Bougainville election. "The Electoral Commission should have gone to the Supreme Court and sought a restraining order, but they said it's a political matter and they have nothing to do with it" he said. "They have everything to do with it." He said the Government had a responsibility to uphold and respect the laws of PNG.

Mr Narokobi also lashed out at the Government's newest acquisition in its fight against serious crime in the country the new police helicopter which arrived in PNG last Thursday. Dubbed the "eye in the sky", the helicopter is expected to significantly increase police capabilities in dealing with crime in PNG, especially in Port Moresby where serious crimes are a daily occurrence. Mr Narokobi criticised the program, describing it as a waste of money which would have been better spent on improving the living conditions of police officers or paying them their overdue allowances. Mr Narokobi said he did not believe that the helicopter would be used for crime-busting operations. "It's a new toy for the Prime Minister" he said. Mr Narokobi said the police could have easily utilised PNGDF helicopters to help them in their duties.

Source: Postcourier - 29 March 99

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Aussie Team to Review B'ville Effort

PORT MORESBY: An Australian Parliamentary delegation will be visiting PNG to review Australia's contribution to the Bougainville peace process for four days starting today.

The delegation is led by Senator David McGibbon and is made up of members of the Joint Sub-Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. The delegation includes David Hull, Colin Hollis, Senator Vicki Bourne and JAL Macdonald, Roger Price, Andrew Thomson, Dr Andre Southcott and the sub-committee secretary, Cliff Lawson. Former Peace Monitoring Group Commander, Brigadier Bruce Osborn will also accompany the delegation. Following meetings with senior PNG leaders today, the delegation, accompanied by the Australian High Commissioner, David Irvine will fly to Bougainville tomorrow to call on the multi-national Peace Monitoring Group led by Brigadier Roger Powell. The PMG comprises Australian, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu components. The delegation hopes to use these meetings and visits to review Australia's contribution in the peace process on Bougainville since the Burnham talks in July 1997. The Australian Government had provided transport assistance to Bougainville leaders to the Burnham Military Camp in New Zealand for peace talks resulting in the Burnham Truce.

Australian High Commissioner David Irvine said that the delegation would set out to:

The delegation will return to Australia on Thursday.

Source: By PHILIP KEPSON - The National - 16 March 99

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Disarming Parties not on Agenda, say Rebels

RABAUL: The issue of disarmament will not be discussed until after the Bougainville Reconciliation Government is elected into office, rebels say.

Their spokesman Andrew Miriki said the rebels would like the elected government (the BRG) to take the lead in consultative talks on disarmament following the election. His statement follows a media statement that a high-powered group of police and defence personnel had gone to Bougainville to attend a special meeting on disarming the conflicting parties on the crisis-torn island. "We are not having any meeting on that issue. We are now concentrating on the election," he said. Mr Miriki said the issue of disarmament was a complex one that required comprehensive planning and consultation among the parties to make it work. "It is not possible for the rebels to disarm the resistance forces or vice-versa. Along the same lines, it is obviously not workable for the police and the defence personnel to take the lead in disarming others, it is going to be the elected government (the BRG)," he said. Mr Miriki said the Government must also be reminded that the security forces on the ground on Bougainville would be urged to withdraw to Port Moresby as part of the disarmament exercise. "The senior officers of the security force must now be already planning their own disarmament strategies on Bougainville. We cannot tell them what to do but they have to be told at times for the sake of making the work easy," he said.

Source: By PHILIP KEPSON - The National - 16 March 99

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'De-facto Nod for B'ville'

PORT MORESBY: Recent decisions and actions of Government may amount to the de-facto recognition of Bougainville as a separate state, the Opposition and a prominent lawyer said separately yesterday.

Opposition Leader Bernard Narokobi told a press conference that under international law, if a legally constituted government allowed a group of people within its jurisdiction to do certain things outside of the laws of that state, then it gave them the opportunity to create a nation-state. He said among the preconditions to forming a nation was allowing leaders on the ground to write their own constitution, acting outside the Constitution and laws of the country, conducting their own elections supervised by themselves and undertaking such other matters consistent with the recognition of a new state. He said this appeared to be the case on Bougainville and claimed some countries in the region appeared to be shifting towards recognition of such moves.

In a separate interview, Professor John Nonggorr also said recent actions of the Government raised serious questions as to whether or not they conformed to PNG's Constitution. He highlighted three areas where the Government may have erred in its actions. He said the recent decision by Government to suspend the Bougainville provincial government, just a minute after it was deemed to have come into existence, was an action taken against an entity that did not exist. Yet this was the provincial and local government that was legal under the Constitution. In suspending it, the Government gave credence to what was happening on Bougainville, including the formation of an assembly outside the law and its decisions. Secondly, the National Government recognised an assembly which appeared to have drawn up its own rules of conduct and association which it called a Constitution. And thirdly, the National Government appears now to give further credence to such an assembly and its rules of conduct by discussing an election which cannot be legally conducted under the PNG Constitution supervised by the Electoral Commission of PNG. "If the Government allows the assembly to form rules to run their affairs, it's a de-facto recognition...," Professor Nonggorr said. "The Government is tacitly allowing that to happen. Give in to them bit by bit and if all the bits add up you are there (independence). You don't go on allowing that if you insist on your sovereign rights."

However, Professor Nonggorr stressed that the Government had not formally legally recognised Bougainville as a separate state. That can happen in one of two ways: If the sovereign power, in this case PNG, ceded its sovereignty such as Australia did to PNG; or A nation breaks away and is internationally recognised as an independent nation. Both of these actions have not happened with regard to Bougainville. Still, the steady play of events outside the ambit of PNG's Constitution from the tacit approval of a constitution to the agreement to have elections on Bougainville increases de-facto recognition which could be argued to the benefit of Bougainville in an international court of law, Professor Nonggorr said. "Once you give de-facto recognition, the distance to legal recognition is not very, very far," he said. Professor Nonggorr said it would have been far better for the Government to bring down legislation to continue to treat Bougainville as a special case until the peace process came to an amicable conclusion to the satisfaction of both parties. In that way, Bougainville would have remained under the PNG Constitution and no serious questions would have come up as they have now.

Source: By FRANK SENGE KOLMA and NEVILLE TOGAREWA - The National - 16 March 99

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Elections Must Proceed, says BIG

THE elections on Bougainville must go ahead despite criticisms about its legality.

"These elections will have to be conducted by the Papua New Guinea Government" said BIG spokesman and member of the Bougainville Constituent Assembly Andrew Miriki. Speaking from Wisai, in South Bougainville Mr Miriki told the Post Courier that the Constituent Assembly was surprised at the early announcement of elections in which dates of the issue of writs and polling was announced. Mr Miriki said elections on Bougainville are necessary as agreed and it would also install a proper voice of the Bougainville people to further negotiate with the PNG Government on issues concerning the Bougainville crisis. The assembly was surprised at the timing of the announcement by the acting Provincial Administrator John Siau. "Personally, I believe it's wrong for Mr Siau to announce the elections. The BCA should be the body to do the announcement" he said. "However, the elections must eventuate as we don't want to drag this whole thing." Mr Miriki said the people of Bougainville could not continue to wait for things to happen. "We would like to have the elections as soon as possible so that mandated leaders can hold dialogue with the PNG Government" he said. "At the moment we are not properly elected or mandated so it's unwise to carry on like this." He said the assembly is in the process of drawing up proper boundaries and other requirements when the election was announced. "It is hard for me to accept government officers to make such announcements on sensitive issues that would have come from BCA" he said. "The Lincoln Agreement clearly states that the consultation process must be continued and we should honor that."

Source: POSTCOURIER - 15 March 99

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BRA: PNG Constitution `no effect'

BOUGAINVILLE rebel commander Sam Kauona says the proposed elections are intended to elect a full government for the island.

Contrary to assertions by Prime Minister Bill Skate and his minister responsible for Bougainville Sam Akoitai, that the elections were an interim arrangement, Mr Kaouna said it would elect leaders to form the Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG). He told the National Broadcasting Commission in a phone interview that these elections were legal as far as the newly adopted Bougainville constitution was concerned. The PNG Constitution therefore was "ineffective" on the island, he said. The BRA, he said, fully supported the elections. "The BRA is in full support of the elections. We see it as the only way we in Bougainville will put our properly constituted government in place so we are looking forward to that" Mr Kauona said. "As far as the people on Bougainville are concerned, the elections are legal despite what Papua New Guinea is saying because, one, it has been endorsed by the leaders of Bougainville, and secondly, we have come up with our own constitution. Under that constitution it allows the people of Bougainville to go to the elections and come up with our own government. Number three, it is legal because the Bougainville Constituent Assembly has endorsed the elections that is going to take place."

Source: POSTCOURIER - 15 March 99

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PNG Denies Claims it's Lost Control of Bougainville Peace Process

The Papua New Guinea Government has denied claims it's lost control of the Bougainville peace process. Richard Dinnen reports the Government has warned its critics NOT to make inflammatory comments which could de-rail the process.

The Papua New Guinea Opposition claimed the Government had lost control of Bougainville, after some factions on Bougainville announced they will hold an election next month. The vote will elect representatives to negotiate with the PNG Government until a reconciliation Government is formed on Bougainville later this year. The Government has denied Opposition claims the election will be illegal, and welcomed it as a creative approach. Minister of State Sam Akoitai says the peace process is still progressing, albeit slowly, and the Government is in control. He dismissed claims by Bougainville rebels that the PNG Constitution no longer applies on the island as "rebel talk" -- but said nothing would be gained from criticising such talk. Rather, he said the Government will continue to encourage the factions to participate in the legal processes of Papua New Guinea.

Source: Radio Australia - World News - 15 March 99

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PNG says Proposed Election on Bougainville Next Month can Proceed

The Papua New Guinea Government says a proposed election on Bougainville next month can proceed -- despite claims it will be an illegal vote.

Representatives will be elected to negotiate with the P-N-G Government until a reconciliation Government is formed on Bougainville later this year. The vote was called without approval from the Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission, prompting claims by the Opposition that the vote is illegal and that the Government has lost control of the peace process. Minister of State Sam Akoitai, says Bougainville factions are creating ways to engage in the process -- and should be encouraged. FW: As leaders of this nation, we should find ways to help them out from those difficult activities. We should not be provoking them so that they can continue to operate outside of the constitution. We should help them out from what they've got themselves into, to become good citizens of this country.

Source: Radio Australia - World News - 15 March 99

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BRA Supports Election on Bougainville

The Bougainville Revolutionary Army says the Constitution of Papua New Guinea no longer applies to Bougainville. Richard Dinnen reports the B-R-A has come out in support of an election on Bougainville which the P-N-G Government says is illegal.

An election has been called without the knowledge or consent of the Government or Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commission. It's understood the vote next month will elect representatives to negotiate with the P-N-G Government until a reconciliation Government is formed on Bougainville later this year. The election may be illegal under PNG law, but the commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, Sam Kauona, says the election is valid under Bougainville's own Constitution, drawn up two months ago. "We are operating under this constitution now unless Papua New Guinea's constitution is illegal or does not have any effect on Bougainville anymore".

Source: Radio Australia World News - 12 March 99

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Spell out Policy - Baing

THE Opposition has called on the Australian and New Zealand governments to temporarily stop their operations on Bougainville until they spell out their foreign policy with PNG on Bougainville.

Opposition spokesman on Foreign Affairs and Trade Andrew Baing said he had directed his office to meet with the Australian and New Zealand high commissions in Port Moresby. He said he will meet with Australian officials today and with New Zealand officials next week. Mr Baing said the issue on Bougainville is clear and the suspended provincial government is the legally constituted assembly. "The current government on Bougainville is illegal and should not be recognised and the Australian and the New Zealand government's continued co-operation with the PNG Government and the illegal government is outside the constitution" he said. The Prime Minister's office could not be contacted for comment last night.

Source: Postcourier - 12 March 99

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Sandline Company Accused in PNG Debt Case

The Sandline mercenary company has been accused of asking Papua New Guinea businesses to pay a debt it claims is owed by the country's Government. Richard Dinnen reports Sandline has allegedly asked businesses to divert their tax payments from the Government to the mercenary company:

Sandline claims it's still owed 18 million US dollars for the aborted 1997 deal to provide mercenaries to fight on Bougainville. The company has been trying to seize PNG assets around the world. Now, Prime Minister Bill Skate says he's been told Sandline has e-mailed businesses in PNG, telling them to pay their taxes to Sandline instead of the government. Mr Skate says Chevron Niugini received a request and alerted the Government. The prime minister says this latest move by Sandline is a con and a swindle, and has warned the business community to be wary of approaches from Sandline.

Source: Radio Australia - 12 March 99

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Akoitai Endorses Peace Co-operation

MINISTER for State assisting the Prime Minister on Bougainville Sam Akoitai has endorsed the call by leaders of the G-17 for all Bougainvillean leaders to put aside their differences and work together.

Welcoming the call by host Governor Stephen Pokawin, New Ireland's Paul Tohian and Rabaul MP Sir John Kaputin, Mr Akoitai said he would like to see all four Bougainvillean MPs working together. He also expressed disappointment at Member for North Bougainville Michael Ogio and Member for South Bougainville Michael Laimo for failing to attend the summit. Mr Akoitai said their failure to attend showed a lack of responsibility towards their people. "I am disappointed that both members could not find the time or even afford to go to Manus" Mr Akoitai said yesterday. "This G-17 island leaders meeting is very important and crucial in the search for peace on Bougainville. The four of us should have been there to thrash out any misconceptions or misunderstandings among us." Mr Akoitai said with peace as the ultimate goal, there was no time for leaders to work alone on the island's peace process. "This meeting is important as the four of us need to get together and talk so our island counterparts can offer to assist us. We have well respected leaders like Sir John Kaputin, Stephen Pokawin, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, Francis Koimanrea and Paul Tohian who are willing to support us."

Source: Postcourier - 11 March 99

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G-17 Urged to Form Committee on Bougainville

THE special state negotiator for Bougainville and Rabaul MP Sir John Kaputin has indicated that it would be wise for G-17 leaders to form a special committee and send it to Bougainville as soon as possible.

After a meeting with three members of the Leitana Council of Elders, who were observing the G-17 summit on Bougainville, Sir John is believed to have said he would like to see leaders agree to set up the committee. According to Leitana council chairman Joel Banam, Sir John met with his delegation at the Harbourside Hotel at Lorengau, in Manus, to listen to their concerns. "We asked Sir John to ask the other leaders of the G-17 to form or set up a committee" Mr Banam said. "The committee would then travel to Bougainville to seek and get first hand information on what is going on." He added that although the Leitana Council of Elders, which is a legitimate government on Buka Island, weren't given the opportunity to address the G-17 meeting, they were pleased to have met Sir John. "Our immediate request was for the G-17 meeting here to urgently set up a committee that would visit Bougainville" he said. "The committee would collect data and other information and then inform the G-17 leaders of its findings at the next meeting. It would be fair for everyone on Bougainville and the other members of the G-17 who are not fully aware of the situation on the island. If set up, the committee must be neutral and should be allowed to travel extensively throughout Bougainville to listen to what the people have to say about the peace process. This, we believe, is the only way to gauge honest views from all over Bougainville." Mr Banam said the committee should travel immediately to the troubled island.

Source: Postcourier - 11 March 99

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Bougainville Election not Illegal

Mandate for BRG elections legal under the BRG Constitution, and, the Will of the people.

James Tanis, newly chosen Acting/Co-Chairman of the Bougainville Constituent Assembly (whilst his leader Co-Chairman Joseph Kabui is on sick leave) said from Arawa today that elections on Bougainville will go ahead as planned by the Bougainville leaders. "I am absolutely amazed that a body such as the PNG Electoral Commission can construe our preparations for the BRG elections as illegal. When they have all along been made fully aware of the progress of the peace process, which amongst other things calls for the election of a Bougainville Government" said a surprised Tanis. "The mandate for elections comes under the BRG Constitution endorsed and adopted by the people of Bougainville and their leaders on the 24th December 1998. One of its very first legal acts was to elect members of the Constituent Assembly (BCA) on 15th of January 1999." On comments on the PNG Opposition on threat to aid and abet boycotting the election, if the BRA were not disarmed; Mr.Tanis challenged Mr.Narakobi and Mr.John Momis if serious about disarmament, to table before the PPCC within the next 7 days a "Withdrawal Plan of the PNGDF and Police Riot Squad" from Bougainville. "The BRA Disposal of Arms Plan has already been tabled before this PPCC's meeting. The peace process is ours and we are not going to allow anyone to stand in its way", said Mr.Tanis. "I stand in full support of my Co-Chairman Gerard Sinato and a/Administrator John Siau for the BRG elections take place as scheduled. The legitimacy of the BRG elections comes from the people of Bougainville. The PNG Electoral Commission should interfere as little as possible", concluded Mr.Tanis from Arawa today.

Source: Media Release - Arawa, Bougainville - 10 Mar 99

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Waigani Left Out as Bougainville Plans Voting

BOUGAINVILLEANS will hold locally-organised elections to start their own government, Provincial Administrator John Siau confirmed yesterday.

He said the elections would be held next month to elect the Bougainville Reconciliation Government, which would bring the people together to achieve "peace through peaceful means". Prime Minister Bill Skate yesterday expressed surprise at the latest developments but said such an election would be illegal. He said he would call a meeting today of relevant people, including the Electoral Commissioner Reuben Kaiulo, and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Bougainville, Sam Akoitai, to discuss the issue. Mr Kaiulo said on Monday that his commission was caught by surprise because it was the only authority in the country to hold national, provincial and local level elections. But Mr Siau said from Buka yesterday that his administration would conduct polling, which was now rescheduled to go from April 3 to 17. Writs would be issued on March 17. Mr Siau said the initial dates issue of writs today and polling on March 23 and 24 had to be revised because of the difficulty in determining constituencies and gauging views.

The Bougainville Constituent Assembly, which meets again next Tuesday, has endorsed and set down election guidelines. Mr Siau said the elections were being planned in line with the Lincoln Agreement which set out ultimately for a government by the people. "Bougainville people have decided to bring their people together for purposes of reconciliation, for human beings as well as for the structures and ideologies" Mr Siau said. "To achieve this they need to have an election to select representatives. Representatives to this government will decide what they (the people) want." Mr Siau said: "It is time Bougainvilleans had one all-representative political authority. My administration will conduct the elections in a fair and democratic way."

Source: Postcourier - 10 March 99

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Islands MPs Lending Hand to Bougainville

NEW Guinea Islands leaders decided yesterday to send a delegation to Bougainville in a bid to help the peace process along.

This move came after two days' deliberations between the Islands Governors' Council and the G17 group of islands Members of Parliament, on Manus Island. The joint group further committed itself to the peace process and do whatever it could to find a long-lasting solution for Bougainville. The summit endorsed setting up of a committee of G17 consisting of Sir John Kaputin (special State negotiator on Bougainville), and governors Paul Tohian (New Ireland), Bernard Vogae (West New Britain) and Stephen Pokawin (Manus). The terms of reference will be developed bearing in mind the committee's neutrality. Their main objective is to visit Bougainville, speak to leaders and chiefs and assess the situation there and report back to the full G17. The delegation will also give a full report to the G17 leaders meeting planned for Lihir Island, New Ireland, where further resolutions to be made. The summit decided to seek the support of the National Governors Council and other MPs on its stance on the prevailing issues affecting Bougainville.

Source: Postcourier - 10 March 99

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Water for Nissan

PEOPLE on Nissan Island, in Bougainville, will soon have their drinking water supply improved.

Provincial and Local Government Affairs Minister Dibara Yagabo has approved K252,360 to assist with the water project. The funds came from the drought and frost relief program. Nissan Island is an atoll and most of the shallow wells on the island are undrinkable and suitable for washing only. The people, through their district water supply and sanitation committee, sought Government assistance through the National Disaster Committee after experiencing hardship during the 1997-1998 drought. They will use the money to rehabilitate existing rainwater tanks and shallow wells and install 43 rainwater catchments throughout Nissan and surrounding islands. Agnes Titus, the chairwoman of the committee, will manage the project with assistance from the district health inspector, who has experience in implementing a similar project. Mrs Titus said the committee will also do the acquittal of the funds on completion of the project. Local artisans, youths and community groups on the island are on standby to provide free manual work and materials such as sand.

Source: Postcourier - 10 March 99

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Leitana Elders Resolve to Boycott Elections

THE chairman of the Leitana council of elders Joel Banam yesterday indicted that the people of Buka would boycott the planned Bougainville Reconciliation Government elections.

In a statement released in Lorengau, Mr Banam said during a meeting of the Leitana Council last week, a resolution was passed calling for the BRG election to be deferred. "The Buka chiefs also resolved to boycott any election and will not participate until and unless fighting factions are disarmed" he said. Mr Banam said that chiefs were concerned that the people of Bougainville must exercise their democratic rights without fear of intimidation. He said the chiefs insisted that disarmament must precede any election. Mr Banam reiterated that leaders from Buka and surrounding islands were convinced that the proposed BRG elections was illegal. He said: "In this respect we are not going to take part in any illegal election on Bougainville." Mr Banam said that unless disarmament was carried out, the elections would be distorted, manipulated and orchestrated by outside forces. "We demand free and democratic elections and there is no excuse for not holding one on Bougainville" he said.

Source: Postcourier - 10 March 99

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An Urgent Appeal for Bougainville.

Can you assist with funds to upgrade computer?

For: Rosemary Dikaung and Genevieve Korokoro - from the Bougainville Women for Peace and Freedom (BWPF). Rosemary and Genevieve, a first from Bougainville - and PNG - have been training in Computer Database Course at the UNSW thanks to Dr.Helen Jarvis of the Library Archive and Research Studies Faculty. They have updated and developed a Human Rights Database from the compilations of 'Marilyn's Lists' (Volumes 1 & 2) of Human Rights abuse perpetrated against the people of Bougainville. We have now exhausted the funding kindly provided by CORSO (New Zealand) and World Vision (Australia). Our Human Rights work is critical to the future of Bougainville and a just outcome of the Peace Process. We are now appealing for financial assistance in setting up the Reconciliation Office. We urgently require equipment and upgrade of the database needs.

Computer: Ms.Rebecca Spence, of the Center for Peace Studies, University of New England kindly donated Present IBM computer, which now needs to be upgraded so that it can handle the huge database program.

Please send your donation to: Vikki John- National Secretary, Bougainville Freedom Movement, P.O.Box 134 Erskineville NSW 2043. Tel: 02 9558 2730
Any kind donations to reach Sydney if possible by the 15th of March 1999.
With All Our Thanks.

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New Zealand asked not to Rebuild Bougainville Island

The Bougainville Revolutionary Army has asked New Zealand not to proceed with a reconstruction project, involving the Papua New Guinea Defence Force.

The proposed project would be a joint effort between New Zealand personnel and the P-N-G Defence Force. Representatives of the B-R-A met a New Zealand military officer on Bougainville on Friday to convey their opposition to the plan. B-R-A Supreme Commander Sam Kauona says the Bougainville peace agreement calls for the withdrawal of the P-N-G Defence Force,and it should not be involved in the project. He says the PNG Defence Force has to carry out a phased withdrawal and it is the responsibility of the B-R-A military to invite any other military force onto the island.

Source: Radio Oz - 10 March 99

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Australia Plays Down Claims it's Dictating on Bougainville

Australia has played down claims it's dictating the process of reconstruction and rehabilitation on Bougainville. Richard Dinnen reports a member of the Papua New Guinea Parliament claimed the people of Bougainville are being left out of the process.

The Member for South Bougainville, Opposition M-P Michael Laimo, criticised Australian and New Zealand-funded reconstruction efforts. He claimed Papua New Guinea sovereignty is threatened by foreign governments controlling the projects, saying Australia should just provide funding and let Bougainvilleans implement the projects. A spokesman for the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby played down the claims, saying all reconstruction work on Bougainville is being done in close co-operation with and at the invitation of the Papua New Guinea Government. Mr Laimo is the latest in a long line of leaders to criticise various aspects of the peace process -- all part of a battle for political control ahead of elections for a Bougainville reconciliation Government due to be held this year. Richard Dinnen Port Moresby.

Source: Radio Oz - 10 March 99

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Sandline makes Grab for $9.6m in PNG Aid Funds

BRITISH mercenary group Sandline International is set to seize $US6 million ($9.6 million) in agricultural subsidies that have been donated to Papua New Guinea by the European Commission.

The move, part of an aggressive worldwide legal battle by Sandline to recover $US25 million from PNG, is focused on money deposited in a Brussels bank account last year in the name of the Central Bank of PNG. Sandline's commercial adviser, Michael Grunberg, said yesterday bailiffs in Belgium had served notice on the Banque Bruxelles Lambert last Friday, compelling the bank to hand over the $US6 million. "The funds have already become the money of the PNG State and, therefore, under Belgian law, the bank is required to hand the funds over" Mr Grunberg said. PNG Prime Minister Bill Skate, who has vowed to fight Sandline's claim, last night condemned the move, saying aid should be off limits. "First, they want to carpet-bomb Bougainville, now they are attempting to take money that is intended to pay for medicine and build hospitals in Papua New Guinea" he said. The disputed funds have been paid to PNG under the EC's Lome Convention, which aims to make up shortfalls suffered by developing States when the price of an agricultural commodity declines, affecting export revenues.

Sandline, which declined to pursue another account held at BBL for donations to victims of last year's Aitape tidal wave, last night rejected claims the funds were aid donations. "In fact, these are export subsidies from the European Commission, which PNG must pay to its agricultural sector. Indeed, the commission decided to supervise the account, as an earlier audit had revealed PNG had cheated in the use of previous funds" Mr Grunberg said. PNG is expected to dispute Sandline's assertion that the funds are already the property of the State as the BBL, the central bank and EC are joint signatories to the account. Mr Grunberg said Sandline had anticipated this response and quoted from the official journal of the EC, which made it clear the funds belonged to a recipient State once transfer into the jointly mandated account had occurred. The Sandline claim for $US25 million follows the judgment of an international arbitration last year found its $US36 million contract with PNG to launch a covert assault on Bougainville was valid under international law. It has launched similar action in the US.

Source: By MARY-LOUISE O'CALLAGHAN South Pacific correspondent
The Australian - 9 Mar 99

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PNG Electoral Commission expresses Concern over Elections

Papua New Guinea's Electoral Commission has expressed concern over an announcement that elections will be held on Bougainville later this month. Richard Dinnen reports the announcement appears to have been made without approval by the Electoral Commission.

Under the Bougainville peace agreement, elections were due to be held this month for a reconciliation government on the island -- but it's now generally accepted the vote will be delayed. But co-chairman of the Bougainville Constituent Assembly Gerard Sinato has told Papua New Guinea national radio writs will be issued tomorrow (WED) and the elections held within three weeks. The Electoral Commission says it had not been told of the proposed vote, and the announcement could be illegal. The Electoral Commission says it's now trying to verify the information. The Electoral Commission is the only body in Papua New Guinea which has the constitutional authority to announce dates for elections. Richard Dinnen Port Moresby.

Source: Radio Australia -08:15:01 (AEDT) - 9 March 99

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BRA asks New Zealand not to Proceed with Reconstruction Project

The Bougainville Revolutionary Army has asked New Zealand not to proceed with a reconstruction project in which the Papua New Guinea Defence Force would be involved.

The proposed project would be a joint proposal involving New Zealand personnel and the P-N-G Defence Force. Representatives of the B-R-A met a New Zealand military officer on Bougainville on Friday to convey their opposition to the project. B-R-A Supreme Commander Sam Kauona says the Bougainville peace agreement calls for the withdrawal of the P-N-G Defence Force -- and it should NOT be involved in the project. Mr Kauona said it would be the responsibility of the BRA military force to invite any other military force onto the island.

Source: Radio Australia - 08:15:01 (AEDT) - March 9 1999

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Bougainville leader favour New Zealanders over Australians

Bougainville rebel leader Joseph Kabui has compared Australian peace efforts on the war-torn island unfavourably with those of its New Zealand counterparts.

The National newspaper reports that Mr Kabui has implied his people feel more comfortable with New Zealand peacekeepers, who contain a large number of Maori. Australia and New Zealand have taken turns at leading the peacekeeping group since a truce in 1997 marked the end of a nine-year conflict. The newspaper quotes Mr Kabua as saying New Zealand had a more "human touch" than Australia. A crucial figure in the New Zealand-brokered peace on Bougainville, Mr Kabui was interviewed in Wellington, where he came to be treated for hepatitis and diabetes.

Source: Radio Australia - 05:15:01 (AEDT) - March 9 1999

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Drillbits Issue delayed due to Killing of Former Project

We are deeply saddened to hear the news that Terence Freitas, Ingrad Wahinawatok and Lahe'ena'e Gay have been killed. Our deepest Sympathy, Moses Havini - Bougainville Interim Government, Vikki John - Bougainville Freedom Movement, Rex Rumakiek - Free West Papua Movement

Dear Drillbits & Tailings readers,
The March 7th issue of Drillbits & Tailings has been delayed due to the killing of Terence Freitas, a former Project Underground staff member in Colombia. Terence devoted the last two years of his life to supporting the U'wa indigenous peoples of the Andes who were battling to save their ancestral lands from destruction by Occidental Petroleum of Bakersfield, California. His bullet-riddled body was discovered on March 4 together with those of his two companions: Ingrid Washinawatok, an Menominee Native American, and Lahe'ena'e Gay of Hawaii. The next issue of Drillbits will carry details.

"We are seeking an explanation for this 'progress' that goes against life. We are demanding that this kind of progress stop, that oil exploitation in the heart of the Earth is halted, that the deliberate bleeding of the Earth stop." - Statement from the U'wa peoples, August 1998

Source: Pratap Chatterjee and Catherine Baldi, Co-Editors

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Calls for Australia and New Zealand to Clarify Bougainville Policy

Australia and New Zealand have been called on to clarify their policies on Bougainville.

Papua New Guinea opposition leaders have expressed concern that the two governments have not consulted the elected Bougainville leaders about their activities on the island. They've also criticised both countries for dealing directly with B-R-A leaders who are involved in the Bougainville reconciliation government that was illegal. They say such dealings amount to a lack of respect for PNG's sovereignty and constitution and is being interpreted as supporting independence for Bougainville. They say the activities of Australia and New Zealand on Bougainville is encouraging PNG provinces to plan on forming state governments. The Peoples' Progress Party leader and shadow foreign minister Andrew Baing says he'll this week summon the New Zealand and Australian High Commisioners in Port Moresby to explain their country's policies and activities on Bougainville.

Source: Radio Australia - 20:45:01 (AEDT) - March 8 1999

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International Women's Day Celebration - Bougainville

International Women's Day was celebrated today in Arawa by a gathering of over 700 women, in a crowd that marched from Arawa District Office to Independence Oval. A rally followed with traditional singsings, dances, choirs and youth performances combined with traditional bamboo flutes and string bands with extraordinary political compositions.

Women leaders from the Bougainville Constituent Assembly (BCA) of the Bougainville Reconciliation Government (BRG) Mrs. Lucy Morris, Bougainville Women for Peace and Freedom (BWPF) Vice President Mrs. Marcelline Tunim and the Bougainville Women's Council (BWC) Ms. Therese Jaintong touched the hearts of all that heard them speak. Their messages expressed women's desire for and commitment to Bougainville's future, it's peace, development and reconstruction as a free and independent homeland.

The celebrations, posters and the speeches all voiced the same message in a powerful celebration of unity as the women called for a Political Settlement, self-determination and independence for Bougainville. The women want to be recognised as landowners exercising their right to determine their own future. All present, including the Bougainville men, were amazed to witness the political resolve of the women and the expression of their strength of conviction. Whether they were from 'Care Centres" or from BRA controlled areas, women joined hands as they marched together.

Other speakers of note; Mr. James Tanis the Acting Co Chairman of the BCA and Mr. George Tarala, the District Manager in Arawa for Central Bougainville were invited to address the Women's March. They expressed amazement at the event. They acknowledged the women working side by side with their men and leaders as they reconstruct and develop Bougainville from the 'ashes' of the last nine years of war.

Source: Media RELEASE - ARAWA, Central Bougainville - 8 March 1999

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Bougainville Military Leaders Unhappy with Reconstruction

Military leaders of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army have strongly opposed the proposed involvement of Papua New Guinea's defence force in a planned reconstruction of the war-torn island by the New Zealand Government.

The commanders have released a statement, expressing their deep concern at the New Zealand Government's decision to involve the PNG defence force in the project. BRA spokesman, Ishmael Toroama, says the involvement of PNG soldiers contradicts the agreement governing the peace process on the island, its provisions for disarmament, along with the withdrawal of PNG soldiers and police from the island.

Source: Radio Australia World News - 16:15:02 (AEDT) - 8 March '99

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Kabui Critical of Aussie Peacekeepers

WELLINGTON: Bougainville rebel leader Joseph Kabui has compared Australian peace efforts on the war-torn island unfavourably with those of its New Zealand counterparts.

Mr Kabui implied his people felt more comfortable with New Zealand peacekeepers, who contained a large number of Maori, than Australian. Australia and New Zealand have taken turns at leading the peacekeeping group since a truce in 1997 marked the end of a nine-year conflict. In an interview played yesterday on Radio New Zealand International's Tangata O Te Moana, Mr Kabui said New Zealand had a more "human touch" than Australia, despite that country's far larger financial contribution to Bougainville and PNG. A crucial figure in the New Zealand-brokered peace on Bougainville, Mr Kabui was interviewed in Wellington, where he came to be treated for hepatitis and diabetes. His trip and medical care was funded by the New Zealand government out of the Foreign Affairs Department's Overseas Development Aid (ODA) budget. It was not an unusual use of ODA funds, a department spokesman told NZPA.

Listening to Samoan, Chinese and Cambodian taxi drivers in Wellington had confirmed the good standing the New Zealand Government had with ethnic groups, Mr Kabui said. "They don't find themselves being discriminated against in a serious way, (as) they find in some places" he said. "It is that sort of a thing that shows out (in) men and women who are members of peace-monitoring groups that go up to Bougainville from New Zealand, relating themselves with no problems with the local people. With New Zealanders there is that extra bit of a human touch that goes with it. A lot of good things are also done by the Australians ... if it can be backed up with just ... a little bit of human touch, even from the government level, I think it can go a long way."

One example of his frustration was the refusal of Australian government agency AusAID to evacuate from the jungle people with life-threatening illnesses, or in danger of dying during childbirth. Mr Kabui said he had taken the matter up verbally with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer in Bougainville three months ago. Mr Downer, the minister responsible for AusAID, had still not responded, he said. - NZPA

Source: The National - 8 March 99

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Media Release - Arawa, Bougainville


BRA Commanders meet to assess proposed Joint NZDF and PNGDF Joint Reconstruction Program on Bougainville, NZDF Visiting Army Brigadier urged to abandon proposal.

BRA Commanders from Buka to Buin convened an extra-ordinary urgent meeting in Arawa to consider the initiative's implications on the peace process late Friday afternoon. They have grave concerns about the announcement by the New Zealand Government of a joint reconstruction program on Bougainville with members of the PNG DF. The Commanders were also disappointed at the NZ Government's attack on Acting Co-Chairman Mr. James Tanis. Mr. Tanis is acting whilst Co-Chairman Joseph Kabui is recuperating in his village after medical treatment in New Zealand. In a strong statement released late Friday afternoon, the BRA Commanders were deeply concerned at what they termed "an uncaring attitude" of the New Zealand Government to disarmament, disposal of arms and withdrawal of the PNGDF/ Police Riot Squad in accordance with the Lincoln Agreement. "We are disappointed at this sudden change of thinking and attitude by the NZG to engage a party, i.e., the PNGDF, which is a signatory to the Lincoln Agreement and the Cease-fire Agreement", said BRA Spokesman and Operations Commander Ishmael Toroama. "We want to see a fully demilitarised Bougainville. Engagement of the PNGDF on Bougainville in a different capacity while the BRA and Resistance Forces disarm will still continue militarisation of Bougainville, which we are totally opposed to", said Ishmael Toroama. Comdr. Toraoma said from Arawa that all the BRA forces including all Women's Organisations would oppose any further involvement of the PNGDF in any other capacities on Bougainville. He said these were men that abused and raped our women, killed our people and destroyed our homes. "We cannot see them in any other light but as those that came here and abused our human rights", said Comdr. Toroama.

BRA Comdr. Glenn Biaras of Wakunai also told the commanders meeting that he was not consulted and the women of the Wakunai area were also opposed to the PNGDF being used in Wakunai. He said they have no trust whatsoever in an army that they once faced in the jungle. Biaras said it was best for the NZG to involve Bougainvillean contractors as part of reconciliation and restoration on the island, rather than PNGDF. The people needed the employment and the training vital to the development of Bougainville. Coinciding with the BRA Commanders meeting was the arrival of a Brigadier from the NZDF visiting his troops on Bougainville. He was urged by the BRA Commanders to advise his government to withdraw the proposed project as the most sensible thing, at this crucial time of the peace process.

For Further Information Contact: (872) 761 338 978.

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1976 MERCENARIES: Sandline Refutes Govt Claims

PORT MORESBY: Mercenaries Sandline International has accused the PNG Government of making misleading statements about its attempts to secure US$18 million (K40 million) owed to it by PNG under an aborted US$36 million contract signed in 1997, reports the National.

Sandline's commercial adviser, Michael Grunberg, also said from London that comments made by Prime Minister Bill Skate that Sandline had been engaged by the former Chan government to "murder Papua New Guineans on Bougainville" for "blood money" were potentially libellous. Sandline has registered the debt owed to it by PNG in the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany and the United States and has identified PNG assets from which the debt could be settled. Mr Grunberg said Sandline was also "very familiar" with PNG assets in Australia but would not disclose what the company's next move there would be. Senior PNG foreign affairs officials and diplomats have said they had asked various governments, including Australia, to invoke diplomatic immunity to protect PNG diplomatic assets from seizure. But Mr Grunberg said PNG's claim that the Belgian government had intervened to lift a freeze on the bank account of the PNG mission in Brussels was "untrue". "The account was never frozen in the first place and it's very misleading for these statements to be made by the state" Mr Grunberg said. He said diplomatic accounts were inviolate, contained only small amounts of money, so there was no point in Sandline going after them. "We're interested in more substantial commercial accounts" he said. Diplomatic immunity did not apply to those assets, and, for example, most of PNG's assets in Australia were therefore vulnerable. Mr Grunberg said Mr Skate's accusation last month that Sandline was holding PNG to ransom was also "unfair and misleading again". "All we are doing is seeking to collect a debt. Any ethical country that works to principles would meet those obligations" Mr Grunberg said.

Sandline was hired by the former government under Sir Julius Chan to assist the PNG Defence Force in ending the Bougainville crisis, but the contract was aborted in March 1997. Last year an international tribunal ruled that PNG pay Sandline US$18 million still owed under the contract, but PNG is set to seek leave to appeal against the decision in the Queensland Supreme Court in Brisbane on March 11. The Government has indicated that it will also seek to recover US$18 million already paid to Sandline in new legal proceedings here. Mr Grunberg said PNG's action of running "a parallel piece of litigation in their own country" was "disrespectful" to the Australian courts and to the international tribunal. - AAP

Source: The National - 5 March 1999

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PM Rejects Aussie Aid Concerns

PORT MORESBY: Papua New Guinean Prime Minister Bill Skate yesterday dismissed as "rubbish" an Australian cabinet submission in which concerns were reportedly expressed about PNG's ability to manage Australian aid money properly.

"I don't think it (the cabinet submission) is a very accurate reflection" Mr Skate told reporters. "There's nothing in that report. It's absolutely rubbish. This sort of report tries to destroy the relationship between the Australian government, its people and the Papua New Guinean government and its people." The confidential cabinet document, which was presented to the cabinet by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer late last year, warned that the management of Australia's aid program could become a major source of friction with PNG. The submission, which formed the basis of a new aid agreement last year to provide PNG with up to A$300 million (K428 million) annually from 2000 to 2003, showed the departments of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Treasury and Finance favoured a significant cut in aid in the longer term. Australia's Office of National Assessments (ONA) said in the submission that PNG's capacities were limited and its governmental processes were messy. The ONA also said: "PNG's signature to an agreement does not necessarily entail commitment to implementing its provisions ... backsliding from ostensibly agreed positions is a constant risk in dealing with PNG."

But Mr Skate said his Government was different from previous governments. "When I sign a document or my ministers sign a document, it carries weight with my support, and we intend to implement and honour that commitment" the Prime Minister said. Since his government came to power in 1997, the relationship with Australia was the "strongest it had been for many, many years. "I have a very good relationship with (Australian Prime Minister) John Howard and his government" Mr Skate said. He admitted that in the past aid money had not been managed properly but said PNG was now aiming to use aid money properly, wisely and in an accountable way. He said PNG's foreign affairs department would follow up the Australian cabinet submission and take measures to strengthen the relationship with the Australian government.

PNG's management of aid projects has recently attracted criticism here from the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Japanese Ambassador Yasuhide Hayashi. Mr Hayashi has said Japanese aid projects had often experienced lengthy delays because political and civil managers were inefficient and PNG authorities sometimes lacked the will to act. He said that on "countless occasions" he had to make requests almost once a week to the PNG government for the authorities here to fulfil their side of the bargain in aid projects. Farewelling Mr Hayashi, Mr Skate told reporters that he "totally agreed" with the ambassador's criticisms and had decided to set up a small public service team to work closely with one of his ministers to make sure that aid projects were "properly funded". - AAP

Source: The National - 5 March 1999

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Possible Hitch seen on B'ville Peace Process

PORT MORESBY: Acting chairman of Bougainville Constituents Assembly James Tanis has warned of possible complication of the peace process caused by the proposed joint New Zealand-Papua New Guinea Defence Force reconstruction work on Bougainville.

In a statement Wednesday, Mr Tanis said the joint force reconstruction is in danger of interfering with the current peace process. "We have now come to the most sensitive stage of the Bougainville peace process where all parties are now seriously discussing the withdrawal of the PNGDF and police riot squad from Bougainville, disposal of arms by the rebel and resistance forces and the election of the Bougainville Reconstruction Government" Mr Tanis said. "The deployment of the joint forces reconstruction team is a new prickly and sensitive issue that we could do without at this stage whilst we are trying to implement the Lincoln Agreement." He said any matters to enhance the peace process must go through the peace process consultative committee and cannot recollect this joint NZ-PNGDF army reconstruction proposal through this process. Mr Tanis said that the Bougainville rebels have arms disposal programs that will be put through the PPCC where the PNGDF was expected to do the same by submitting their withdrawal proposals in the second week of March.

Source: The National - 5 March 99

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Release Jacqui Katona & Christine Christopherson

Call for release of Jacqui Katona and Christine Christopherson from Darwin's Berrimah prison, and cease uranium mining in Jabiluka.

Below is the Global Sisterhood Network protest letter to the Australian Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer regarding the unjust and unjustifiable imprisonment of our indigenous sisters, Jacqui Katona and Christine Christopherson. We are asking your urgent assistance to forward the letter bearing your signature to Mr. Fischer in support of our demand that the federal government intervene to facilitate the immediate release of Jacqui Katona and Christine Christopherson from Darwin's Berrimah prison, and the halt of uranium mining operations in their homeland Jabiluka. Please feel free to modify the letter as you see fit, and to make appropriate changes to indicate whether you are responding on behalf of yourself [*I*] or group or organization [*we*]. For maximum impact in Canberra, we ask that you email the letter [Subject: Release of Jacqui Katona and Christine Christopherson from Darwin's Berrimah prison, and cease uranium mining in Jabiluka] to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Fischer, and direct carbon copies [Cc] to the federal ministers and senators indicated below, with blind carbon copies [Bcc] directed to the Global Sisterhood Network and the Mirrar Community at the email addresses which are also provided below. We ask too that you circulate the letter with these instructions to your own networks seeking further support for this initiative undertaken on behalf of our indigenous sisters and their families.
In sisterhood, and with appreciation, Lynette.


To: Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
Subject: Release of Jacqui Katona and Christine Christopherson from Darwin's Berrimah prison, and cease uranium mining in Jabiluka.
Cc: optional, but suggestions include:
The Chief Minister of the Northern Territory Mr. Denis Burke
Leader of the Australian Federal Opposition
Senator for Aboriginal Affairs John Herron
Senator Margaret Reynolds
Senator Bob Brown
Senator Meg Lees
Senator Dee Margetts
Senator Natasha Stott Despoja
Senator John Woodley
Bcc: Global Sisterhood Network
Gundjehmi Corporation

Dear Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. Tim Fischer,
Since the Prime Minister, Mr. John Howard, has distanced himself from the public by making himself unavailable for email messages, we are writing to you to protest, in the strongest possible terms, the imprisonment of Jacqui Katona and Christine Christopherson in Darwin's Berrimah prison. We are outraged that two Mirrar women, including the senior traditional owner of Jabiluka, Yvonne Margarula, and the spokeswoman for the Jabiluka mine site's traditional owners were convicted of trespass on Mirrar land, the title being held by the Mirrar under the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act. Furthermore, we are incensed that a 12 day jail sentence has been imposed upon Jacqui and Christine for their refusal to pay what is a totally unjust and unjustifiable $500 trespass fine.

By imposing a prison sentence on Jacqui and Christine, the Northern Territory Government, and by implication the Australian Government, have wrongfully relegated two Mirrar women to the rank of common criminal. The arrest, conviction, and now imprisonment of Jacqui Katona and Christine Christopherson is a national disgrace, exposing the anti-indigenous colours of both the Northern Territory and Australian Governments to the entire world; an arrogant snubbing of human and indigenous rights, and a preoccupation with mining profits which sees one of Australia's world acclaimed natural heritages exchanged for uranium dollars.

We condemn the blatant intimidation of the courageous traditional owners, predominately women, from Jabiluka, and demand the immediate release of Jacqui Katona and Christine from Darwin's Berrimah prison. Equally, we demand that all uranium mining operations be ceased in Jabiluka, and that the future of this world heritage region be returned to its rightful owners, the Mirrar.
Yours faithfully, ...................................

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New Bougainville Law Approved

CABINET has approved a Bougainville Provincial Law to ensure existing provincial laws comply with the new Organic Law on Provincial Governments and the Local Level Government.

Governor-General Sir Silas Atopare has approved and gazetted the law. The National Executive Council has directed Minister for State Sam Akoitai to ensure existing provincial laws in Bougainville are reviewed to ensure continuity and consistency with the Organic Law. Mr Akoitai will also make sure long term arrangements for the Bougainville Government are subject to separate consultations between the parties involved in the peace process. Provincial and Local Government Affairs Minister Dibara Yagabo will table the provincial law during the July session and will move a resolution to confirm it within seven sitting days. Mr Akoitai said the National Government remained committed to the peace process. He also assured the people of Bougainville and the parties involved in the peace process that every effort would be made to safeguard the peace achieved, as well as a lasting solution.

Source: Postcourier - 4 March 99

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NZ-PNG Army Plan a `Risk to Peace Talks'

A NEWLY-chosen leader in Bougainville has warned of a threat to peace on the troubled island from a reconstruction program.

James Tanis, acting co-chairman of the Bougainville Constituent Assembly, said the proposed reconstruction deal between the defence forces of PNG and New Zealand was "in grave danger" of blocking the peace process. Talks were now at a "most sensitive stage", he said. Among the issues being discussed were the withdrawal of the PNGDF and the police riot squad from Bougainville; the disposal of arms by the BRA and the Resistance forces, and the election of the Bougainville Reconcilitation Government. But deployment of the joint NZ Army and PNGDF reconstruction team was "a new prickly and sensitive issue" that negotiators could do without while they were trying to implement the Lincoln agreement, Mr Tanis said from Arawa. "Any matters to enhance the peace process must go through the Peace Process Consultative Committee and I cannot recollect this `joint NZ and PNG army reconstruction proposal' going through this process" he said. "The BRA now has a disposal of arms program that will be put through the PPCC; where we also expect the PNGDF to do the same by submitting their withdrawal proposal in the second week of March. I am appealing directly to the New Zealand Government and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Don McKinnon to understand our position and our concern for this peace process in not allowing and creating another unnecessary impediment (of its own making) to be in the way of the Bougainville peace process at this most sensitive stage."

Source: Postcourier - 4 March 99

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Media Release - Arawa, Bougainville

Acting Co-Chairman of Bougainville Constituent Assembly James Tanis, Warns of Possible Complication Of Peace Process Caused by "Proposed Joint New Zealand Defence Force and PNG Defence Force Reconstruction Program" on Bougainville.

The joint NZ Defence Force and the PNG Defence Force proposed econstruction Program on Bougainville, is in grave danger of stymieing the current peace process; warned Mr. James Tanis, Acting Co-Chairman of the recently elected Bougainville Constituent Assembly. "We have now come to the most sensitive stage of the Bougainville peace process where all parties are now seriously discussing the issues of: -

The deployment of the Joint NZ Army and PNGDF Reconstruction team is a new prickly and sensitive issue that we could do without at this stage, whilst we are trying to implement Lincoln Agreement" said Mr.Tanis from Arawa. "Any matters to enhance the peace process must go through the Peace Process Consultative Committee (PPCC), and I can not recollect this 'joint NZ and PNG army reconstruction proposal' go through this process. The BRA now has a Disposal Arms Program that will be put through the PPCC; where we also expect the PNGDF to do the same by submitting their Withdrawal Proposal, in the second week of March". "I am appealing directly to the New Zealand Government and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr.Don McKinnon to understand our position and our concern for this peace process. In not allowing and creating another unnecessary impediment (of its own making) to be in the way of the Bougainville peace process at this most sensitive stage" concluded Mr.Tanis from Bougainville.

CONTACT: +(872) 761 338 978 - For Further Information.

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Bougainville Assembly Wants G17 Proposal Clarified

THE Group of 17 (G17) must clarify to the Bougainville Constituent Assembly what kind of assistance and mediatory role it is offering to find lasting peace on the island, an official in Bougainville said yesterday.

Provincial peace co-ordinator Chris Siriosi told the Post-Courier that there had been very little communication from G17 about the terms of their offer. Mr Siriosi said he believed the Constituent Assembly, which was made up of the BTG, BIG/BRA, resistance and chiefs, would readily accept any offer of assistance from G17 if it clarified what sort of help or mediatory role it was offering. G17 consists of governors of the four Island provinces East and West New Britain, New Ireland and Manus and national parliamentarians from the region. Island governors met in Lorengau last week and again made known their willingness to act as a mediator between the different parties in the conflict.

A meeting of the Constituent Assembly planned for Nissan Island two weeks ago was aborted due to conflict over the venue and refusal by Regional Member John Momis to attend. The G17 proposed during their meeting that the meeting be held in the Manus capital where it could play its mediatory role, but this proposal has since been thrown out by the BIG/BRA, insisting instead that the meeting be held either on Bougainville or out of the country as has been in the past. BRA spokesman Andrew Miriki said over the weekend that while the BIG/BRA was appreciative of the concerns raised by G17, it would not support moves by the group to host the meeting in Manus. "As far as we (Constituent Assembly) are concerned, there has been minimal communication from the G17 on what type of help it is offering or intermediary role it plans to play" he said. "Until the assembly is aware of the nature of their offer, I do not believe any decision would be made to take up their proposal."

Mr Siriosi said State Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Bougainville Sam Akoitai and the acting secretary of the Department of Bougainville John Siau may meet with G17 leaders this week to discuss the nature of the group's offer of assistance. Mr Siriosi said as provincial peace co-ordinator, he stood by the BIG/BRA in opposing any meetings in another part of the country given the nature of the issue. "This whole peace process is all about trust building and time is needed to achieve this" he said. Mr Siriosi said anybody could understand why the BIG/BRA would not support any meeting in another part of the country because of the sensitivity of the issue. He said the BIG/BRA would only support meetings being held either on Bougainville or out of the country. "Ten years of war, killing and bloodshed has eroded the trust among many Bougainvilleans, especially those in the BIG/BRA and the pro-government factions. This is a give and take situation and we need to be flexible about it that is why we need time" he said. Mr Siriosi said also the move taken by Mr Momis to challenge the Government's decision to dissolve BTG in court was unnecessary. "I have been of the view from the beginning that this situation should have been resolved out of court" he said. "Ultimately, I believe this issue will have a negative impact on the peace process."

Source: Postcourier - 3 March 99

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Australia Asked to Protect our Assets

PAPUA New Guinea has asked the Australian Government to help protect its assets in Australia from seizure by mercenaries Sandline International.

PNG's High Commissioner in Canberra, Renagi Lohia, said he had asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to apply the principle of diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention to PNG Government property, bank accounts and other assets in Australia. "In Australia we have taken measures to protect the interests of the Papua New Guinea Government and people ... the application of diplomatic immunity" Mr Lohia said. "I've informed the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade ... requesting the co-operation and assistance of the Australian Government by the Vienna Convention." Mr Lohia said he could not disclose the value of PNG's assets in Australia. Sandline has taken extensive legal action in various parts of the world to strengthen its bid to secure $US18 million plus interest that the PNG Government still owes it under an aborted $US36 million contract for the supply of men and equipment. The former PNG government under Sir Julius Chan had hired the mercenaries to help end the Bougainville secessionist conflict, but the contract was aborted in March 1997. Sandline has reportedly registered its claim for the outstanding money in three European capitals and the United States. The Australian newspaper reported yesterday that Sandline's commercial adviser,Michael Grunberg, had said PNG assets would next be targeted in Australia. An international tribunal ruled in October last year that PNG pay Sandline the outstanding $US18 million plus interest. The PNG Government is set to appeal against the ruling in the Queensland Supreme Court in Brisbane on March 11.

Source: Postcourier - 2 March 99

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Kabui Well Again

RABAUL: Bougainville rebels have confirmed that their political leader Joseph Kabui was admitted to a hospital in New Zealand last week Wednesday.

Their spokesman Andrew Miriki could not disclose the nature of the illness but said Mr Kabui was recovering well in a hospital in New Zealand. "Yes, he (Mr Kabui) was flown out of here last week for a medical check up" he said. "He rang up and told me that he was getting on well with the treatment he was receiving. He said he would be back home sometime next week" said Mr Miriki on Friday. Meanwhile, Josephine Kauona, the wife of rebel supreme commander Sam Kauona, had stepped down as head of the Bougainville women for peace and freedom movement. Another women's rights advocate, Lucy Madoi, was elected as the new president of their organisation. Mrs Kauona told The National recently that she was planning to resume her studies. She was doing her third year studies in business at the Divine Word Institute (now university) in Madang when the Bougainville crisis began in 1989, forcing her to return home to Kieta.

Source: The National - 1 March 99

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Contact Details:

BFM - Bougainville Freedom Movement (Coordination in Australia):
VIKKI JOHN - e-mail:
P.O. Box 134, Erskineville NSW 2043, Australia, Phone +61-2-9558-2730

BIG - Bougainville Interim Government
MOSES HAVINI (International Political Representative in Asia/Pacific)
PO Box 134, Erskinville, NSW 2043, Australia Phone/Fax +61-2-9804-7632 , Mobile +61-(0)414-226-428

MARTIN MIRIORI (International BIG Secretary in Europe, NL)
e-mail: (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Org.)
Phone +31-55-577-99-60 , Fax +31-55-577-99-39

MAX WATTS - (specialised Journalist) email:
P.O. Box 98, Annandale NSW 2038, Australia
Phone +61-2-9564-1147 , Phone/Fax +61-2-9818-2343 (work)