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Bougainville Updates

This page carries the June 2000 Bougainville news updates as received. You can find previous updates in the archive.

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.

BOOK: Building Peace in Bougainville - Details & Order Form

Index: June 2000


Chief: Funds going direct

THE Bougainville Peace and Restoration Office does not have control over the K80 million given to the Bougainville administration by the National Government and aid donors.

Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Michael Somare said comments that K80 million is being held back by BPRO and services is misleading. Sir Michael said: "The Bougainville provincial administration receives about K30 million from the National Government and about K50 million from aid donors which go directly to Bougainville. "If services are not going through, then the Bougainville provincial administration is wrongly using what has been diverted straight to them." Sir Michael was responding to Bougainville governor John Momis and a member of the Bougainville Interim government Peter Tsumeri, over the close of BPRO.

Source: Postcourier - 29 June 00

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Military might not the answer

I PERSONALLY read with interest the letter titled "Bougainville conflict far from over " by Buka Warrior in the Post-Courier (June 28).

Although I do agree that as a soldier on the ground in Bougainville at this time that it is very frustrating and that Buka warrior is going through all these at the moment, I totally disagree with the tone of his/her letter. One could clearly notice in the letter that the writer assumes or believes that the problem on Bougainville can be solved militarily by using the military might. I just wonder whether Buka Warrior or any other person with that kind of belief or idea ever looked over history of such conflicts around the world. Look at Vietnam, Northern Ireland and many more. Look at how the conflicts were never solved through the use of military might but instead were made worse. Look at Bougainville. The problem actually started as a landowner problem involving only a small pocket of landowners from around the vicinity of the mine. It was never a problem concerning and involving all the islands population. Do you want to know how it became a Bougainville problem? As a matter of fact, it was entirely because of the cruel and inhuman treatment of all Bougainvilleans by the security forces. As long as you are black you are a rebel and you get bashed up. This was regardless of the fact that only the immediate landowners were the ones causing the "boat to rock". As a direct result of that the problem, it blew out of hand causing what we know today as the Bougainville crisis from what was then known as the Panguna crisis. I could go on and on giving reasons on why I think no military might will ever bring peace to Bougainville or to any where else in Christthe world. The time for solving problems through military might is long gone. It is a strategy of the past which is never applicable to the modern world. I wish to make it known to you that the true and lasting peace doesn't come through violence and slaughtering of human beings but through the grace of God. My Bible says that true peace only comes when we accept the grace of God. That is the principle. There is no other worthwhile and workable result. To conclude, let's encourage the National Government and the parties on Bougainville to continue with the negotiations. That is the only viable and sensible means of dealing with the problem at the moment.

Source: Postcourier - 29 June 00

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Christ Warrior Port Moresby - Cyanide spill at Lihir safe

INDEPENDENT reports confirm that a recent cyanide spill in Lihir is of no threat to the environment.

According to Lihir's process plant operations manager Stewart Beckman, samples of seawater collected during and immediately after the spill and analysed by the mine site laboratory indicated no significant threat to the immediate marine environment or the community. "Samples were collected and analysed under the supervision of the government and local community. "All of these samples had concentrations of cyanide well below the PNG sea water quality standard of 0.01mg/l." In a joint statement from Lihir Management Company and Nimamar Development Authority yesterday, it was reported that five tonnes of solids escaped into the company's small boat harbor when an air line to a valve at the tailings de-aeration tank failed, causing the valve to open. A back-up non-return valve which was supposed to seal did not do so, allowing the spill. "An alarm system notified the operations personnel of the spill and the discharge was quickly stopped. The flow was reversed and some of the tailings were sucked back into the tailings system" the staement read. According to Mr Beckman, 14 fish and invertabrates collected within the area of the spill seemed to have died. The spill, which occured last Thursday is reported to be under control. Ends.

Source: Postcourier - 29 June 00

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Akoitai: Govt slows process

CENTRAL Bougainville MP Sam Akoitai yesterday warned that the Bougainville peace process would undergo serious difficulties if Parliament was adjourned.

He also warned of serious repercussions on the peace process if the National Government continued to pose an ignorant attitude on the issue. Responding to a recent announcement by the Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta on Parliament adjournment, Mr Akoitai said he was concerned the adjournment would have a great impact on the peace process. The Parliament adjournment takes effect from January 15 to July 15 next year. Mr Akoitai said he was not happy with the decision to adjourn Parliament and told the Government to indicate to the people of Bougainville a way for political settlement on the island immediately. He also asked that the Government come up with necessary amendments to accommodate the sort of political settlement that would arise from discussions taking place. He said there has been no major progress in the peace negotiations. "Is the government really concerned about the peace process," he asked.

Source: Postcourier - 28 June 00

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Akoitai slams PDM's adjournment move

By MORESI RUAHMA'A

CENTRAL Bougainville MP Sam Akoitai said yesterday that the peace process in Bougainville would suffer serious setbacks if Parliament were to adjourned for a long period.

Mr Akoitai said this in response to the ruling People's Democratic Movement party's decision to have Parliament adjourned for six months - between Jan 15 and July 15, 2001 - to avoid a vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta.

The PDM party leaders are this week courting coalition partners to have the motion agreed to in Parliament.

Mr Akoitai said: "I am very, very concern about this government's handling of the Bougainville issue."

"Especially when the Bougainville issue on greater autonomy and referendum is now before the National Government to make required Constitutional amendments, I question if the government was serious about speedy political settlement. "It is a concern to me when government is saying Bougainville is a priority but then all of a sudden it decided to adjourn the Parliament for six months." "I find it very hard to accept that this government is serious about addressing the Bougainville issue."

Mr Akoitai said there were many difficult issues being faced by the people of this country but leaders were still putting self-interest above the interest of the nation. He said frustration was building up on Bougainville already in view the government's lack of commitment to fast track the peace process. If this kind of attitude by the government continues it could pose serious repercussions on the whole peace process, he warned.

Source: The National - 27 June 00

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Army, Bougainville rebels deny link in firing incident

By THOMAS KILALA

BOTH the PNG Defence Force and Bougainville rebels have gone on the air to assure Bougainvilleans that there was no fighting between the two on Buka Island last week.

PNGDF's acting Bougainville contingent commander Major Endy Kiak and rebel spokesman in Buka Ben Kamda were on a radio program hosted by Radio Bougainville last night called Contact, to deny any involvement by their men in an incident last Friday night.

It was reported that around 11pm gunshots were fired to Kenny's Entertainment Hall, opposite the PNGDF Forward Military Base in Buka Island.

Both parties took the radio program initiative after the rebels accused the PNGDF contingent of firing the shots.

Forward Military Base commanding officer Major Rusford Joekari said they are still waiting for the outcome of a police investigation into the shooting.

In the meantime, both sides have blamed criminal elements for firing the shots.

Major Kiak and Mr Kamda also urged the people of Bougainville not to panic because there was no confrontation last Friday and there was unlikely to be one in future.

According to the owner of Kenny's Entertainment Centre, David Kenatsi who spoke to The National from Buka yesterday, everyone within the vicinity was taken by surprise by the gunshots. The only casualty was a man who sustained a minor wound to his hand.

Source: The National - 22 June 00

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Debts leave MV Sankamap stranded on Cairns slipway

By MORESI RUAHMA'A

THE North Solomons Provincial Government owes about K300,000 to the MV Sankamap in accumulated outstanding debts.

The vessel is now stranded at a slipway in Cairns, Australia.

A total sum of AUD$400,000 (K594,795) is owed, and must be paid before the MV Sankamapcan be released to carry on normal shipping operations in Bougainville.

The payment is to meet the cost of repairs to the vessel.

While the ship waits for necessary funds for its release, the North Solomons provincial government, who are the ship's owners still owe a substantial amount of money for previous charters.

According to a source most of the debts incurred by the North Solomons Provincial Government were for services and other charttered runs provided by the vessel over the years.

The MV Sankamap management office in Buka, North Solomons, told The National yesterday the provincial government's debts dated back to 1995.

It has been six months since the MV Sanakamap travelled to Cairns for repairs.

The source said that the current financial problems faced by the vessel were the result of the ship's non-profitable operations over some years.

Some of the charter payments from the provincial government were delayed for one or two years, said the source.

According to the source the expenditure costs of operating the ship are approximately K20,000 a month which is more than the revenue it generates.

Meanwhile, the provincial executive council is believed to have met and a submission has been made to the provincial government to make funds available to get the vessel back from Cairns.

Source: The National - 22 June 00

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Kabui ready for a briefing with Momis

By THOMAS KILALA.

THE Bougainville People's Congress president Joseph Kabui has expressed satisfaction at the fourth round of negotiations with the national government.

Mr Kabui, who is also the co-leader of the Bougainville negotiating team said he is now preparing to hold a joint Bougainville Provincial Government detailed briefing with the Governor John Momis.

He said it was satisfying that Bougainville leaders were united in their stand.

Mr Kabui said the common stand taken by the Bougainville leaders is a very important one that the Papua New Guinean leaders including the Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta have taken note of.

"Our survival and consolidation of unity has proven our leadership in the coalition has matured since the merger. It is a very solid stand and we have displayed this to other leaders in Papua New Guinea and our people on Bougainville," Mr Kabui said.

He also said he was looking forward to the joint Bougainville Peoples Congress and Interim Bougainville Provincial Government briefing, which would be the first for the two political bodies since the merger.

"This is one more major step forward for us on Bougainville, especially when things are looking positive, meaning it all augurs well for us leaders leading our people for one common goal," said Mr Kabui.

He said what was currently happening was an achievement in a short period of time.

Mr Kabui has paid tribute to the people of Bougainville for their understanding and patience while the leaders continued their negotiations with the National Government.

Source: The National - 22 June 00

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Response to: Rowan Callick, 'South Pacific, the musical', The Australian Financial Review, Weekend Edition, June 17-18, Perspective, page 32.

In his analysis of the current Pacific disturbances and his criticism of parties concerned enough to want early solutions to end the suffering in affected nations, Rowan Callick made brief but significant mention of the Bougainville rebellion: 'A one-off regional force has been deployed on Bougainville, where far more lives have been lost than in any other island conflict since the Pacific War. Bougainville is now emerging with devolved powers not dissimilar to those it had a dozen years ago when its cruelly pointless rebellion began.'

Callick is correct in observing that the horrors of the Bougainville war are unsurpassed by those of any other neighbourhood conflict in recent years, including those of East Timor. We applaud The Australian Army's intervention on behalf of our East Timorese brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, the Australian Government has been rather less willing to intervene on behalf of our even closer relatives on Bougainville, where the suffering and fatalities have been so much greater. No doubt the reluctance stems to some extent from what Callick calls the Foreign Affairs' Vegemite patch mentality. Certainly, if Bougainville were not rich in resources, Port Moresby and Canberra would have handed the island back to the Solomon Islands, or Germany, or anyone, long ago.

We agree with Callick that sending in Major General Peter Cosgrove and his troops is not the solution to every Pacific disturbance. We thank God that Canberra has not done that on Bougainville, because they would undoubtedly have done so in support of neo-colonial Port Moresby, rather than those with the moral right to self-determination. Nevertheless, the Australian Government has supported Port Moresby with funds and military equipment. Vegemite, also copper and gold, talk!

However, Australia has an even greater obligation to liberate Bougainville than it had to deliver East Timor. Certainly, the East Timorese were our allies in war. So were the Bougainvilleans. In addition, however, Australia has contributed significantly toward the current suffering on Bougainville by failing to respect the wishes of the Bougainville people prior to PNG independence. Bougainville has been oppressed and exploited for many generations, being traded between nations as a piece of political and commercial property. It has at least as much right as East Timor to decide its own political future.

Callick's statement that the Bougainville rebellion is a 'cruelly pointless rebellion' is therefore wrong. Bougainville's emergence from the present negotiations with the same powers it had before the rebellion would be a cruelly pointless outcome indeed, but that would not derive from a 'cruelly pointless rebellion'. In the light of his own judgement of Australian '"do something" breast beaters', as he calls them, who commonly '[gloss] over the complexities that drive events', Callick stands self-condemned. Only an ignorant or very insensitive observer with little regard for the historical significance of the Bougainville rebellion could maintain such a callous viewpoint.

We hope and pray that Callick's predicted outcome for Bougainville is also well wide of the mark. Furthermore, we urge the Australian Government to repeat its East Timor-style humanitarian and moral intervention, this time to support the just cause of our brothers and sisters on Bougainville.

Warwick Brooker
warnan@dingoblue.net.au

Source: Letter to the Editor, Australian Financial Review, 19 June 2000

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Akoitai: Policy direction vital for autonomy

CENTRAL Bougainville MP Sam Akoitai has warned that the issue of autonomy for Bougainville may be delayed further if a policy direction was not in place by September.

Mr Akoitai said if it dragged on to 2001, no one would be thinking about Bougainville anymore as members would be preoccupied about their political survival in 2002. He said the Bougainville delegation had given its proposals to the National Government and it needed to come out quickly with the policy direction on its position on the issue of autonomy. He said Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Michael Somare could be presenting a policy paper in the next fortnight. The Bougainvillean delegation is looking at financial and administrative powers and also negotiate certain powers within the Foreign Affairs Department. "I think at this stage the ball is in the National Government's court now, whether they kick it, wherever they're going kick it in, that's up to them," Mr Akoitai said He said it was very critical that some concrete arrangement was in place before the end of the year. He said he was sad to say that the National Government over the last three weeks had not engaged in serious negotiations. "There is no firm policy by the National Government at this stage . . . I don't know where the problem is. The Bougainvilleans are ready, all the papers that have ended up in Cabinet are papers prepared by our team from Bougainville," he said. "The settlement I believe in is a settlement that must not be a band-aid solution but it must be a settlement that must address the conflict. It must not be a settlement that will help to break up the country but it must be a settlement that will strengthen the unity of this country. "Because if we do not address this Bougainville conflict, Bougainvilleans have already demonstrated they are capable of dying for the cause and if we do not come up with a proper solution for this conflict, the next question is 'Is the fighting going to be in Bougainville or is it going to be in other parts of the country'?" He said the National Government must equip itself with qualified technical people, including lawyers, if the Government was really serious about solving the conflict. However, from the papers put forward by the Bougainville delegation, he believed they were coming closer to the type of powers that the National Government might grant them. He said in the last two weeks, members from both parties had met for only 10 hours because technical people from the National Government were not ready to discuss the particulars of autonomy for Bougainville. "Because the people of Bougainville want independence and there are people out there who are prepared to die for it and they have demonstrated that over the 10 years," he said.

Mr Akoitai said the leaders were looking for an arrangement whereby Bougainville could govern its own affairs but within the territorial boundaries of PNG.

Source: POSTCOURIER - 19 June 00

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Freak accident kills soldier

A SOLDIER is dead after a boating accident in Buka.

His body was flown to Port Moresby General Hospital to await funeral and legal arrangements. Buka based Defence Force Warrant Officer Eric Chepon died just after 1.30pm on Friday at the Buka General Hospital after being hit by a huge rope from a Rabaul-based ship on Thursday. Warrant Officer John Tepi said over the weekend that WO Chepon was badly injured by the rope from MV St Petro during official duty on Bonus wharf, at the northern tip of Bougainville island. He said the vessel was too big to anchor at one of the Buka wharves so the captain decided to use the Defence dry dock. WO Tepi said: "Just after midday on Thursday, WO Chepon was on his way back to Bonus, where he is based, to deliver fresh meat and greens for the Defence base when the accident occurred. He was in conversation with the ship's cook and another man when the rope detached from the boat by a strong wave lashed out at them. According to medical sources in Buka hospital, WO Chepon suffered severe injuries to his ribs, chest and backbone. WO Chepon, 48, the eldest of four children from Gabensis village, near Lae, had been on active duty in Bougainville since the crisis began in 1988. He had served with distinction for 32 years and six months. He is survived by his wife, two sons, two daughters and three grandchildren. The Post-Courier could not obtain any comments from the ship's owners yesterday.

Source: POSTCOURIER - 19 June 00

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Leaders want no change

The Bougainville leaders yesterday reminded Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta and political party leaders that Bougainville would not accept a government arrangement lower than the present position on highest autonomy and a referendum.

Co-leader of the Bougainville delegation and BPC president Joseph Kabui said any arrangement lower than that accepted by the parties as reflected in the "Gateway Communique" might lead to "more frustrations" in Bougainville. Governor John Momis and other members of the Bougainville delegation were present in yesterday's meeting, which was convened soon after the National Executive Council looked at an information paper on the outcome of the fourth round of political talks. It is understood that the NEC noted the information paper. The next task is for officers to formulate a policy submission expected to highlight areas of agreements on autonomy and a referendum for Bougainville.

COMMENT: A REFERENDUM ON INDEPENDENCE IS WHAT THE PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE WANT. THE PNG PRIME MINISTER WANTS BOUGAINVILLE TO REMAIN WITHIN PNG. I DONT THINK SIR MEKERE'S AIMS AND PRAYERS WILL BE MET. (SEE BELOW)

Source: Postcourier - 16 June 00

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Survival of democracy a major feat - Sir Mekere

THE survival of democracy in Papua New Guinea for 25 years since Independence has been hailed a significant achievement.

It has stood the test of time and functioned, a proud Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta said when launching the Silver Jubilee logo in Port Moresby yesterday. "We do have good reason to celebrate," he told a gathering which witnessed the launch of the logo in the national colors of red, black and gold on an Air Niugini F28 aircraft. Sir Mekere said while in those 25 years PNG faced many challenges, it did also make significant achievements. "The system of government we established 25 years ago has largely stood the test of time. It has functioned," he said. "Bougainville, Sandline, votes of no-confidence in governments, these have tested the very fabric of our democracy. It has proved resilient, and that is a very positive achievement." Sir Mekere said the changes of government had been made through democratic and peaceful means. "We should be proud of that, and we should remind ourselves of its value, especially with the current unrest in some of our neighboring countries," he said. "We had a crisis with Sandline. We overcame that, in a democratic manner. "We had a civil war for almost 10 years. We are resolving that conflict through peaceful means. I have every confidence that the National Government and Bougainville leaders will reach agreement on a form of government for Bougainville, within the state of Papua New Guinea. That is our aim, and our prayer. And it will be a cause for great celebration when it happens."

Sir Mekere said also that in those 25 years PNG had, in some critical areas, not developed or advanced as well as it should have. Economic and employment growth have been lower and not as broadly spread, as they should have been, he said. The provision of basic services, especially in rural areas, has not kept pace with demand or with population growth, and the quality of health, education and extension services has in many areas declined, he said. Recalling the comments of Sir John Crowford, an Australian friend in the formative 1970s, Sir Mekere said it was true that while the country started well, compared with other developing countries, the problem was keeping up and sustaining the good policies. "And he was absolutely right," Sir Mekere said. "Our systems and processes of government are showing signs of wear and tear. "Too much is spent on supporting the structures of government, instead of on providing services." Sir Mekere said PNG should the take the opportunity of her Silver Jubilee to re-lay the foundation, to admit failures, and take the challenge of doing the necessary repair work.

Source: Postcourier - 16 June 00

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BRA denies involvement in Gizo raid

THE BOUGAINVILLE Revolutionary Army (BRA) this week denied reports that they had taken over the township of Gizo in the Western province of the Solomon Islands.

BRA general secretary Robinson Asotau said that none of the members of the BRA were involved in the raid. Mr Asotau said that BRA commanders Ishmael Toroama and Thomas Tarii were now in Gizo to investigate the alleged raid which had left a security guard dead. Mr Asotau described the reports as misleading and very harmful to the current peace process.

Source: The Independent (PNG) - 15 June 00 - Review Section.

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PNG upholds Solomons pledge

- by FRANCIS ULIAU

PAPUA NEW GUINEA has provided K14 million to Solomon Islands from a total commitment of K40 million since 1998.

The support grant was to be disbursed at a rate of K10 million per year, but was frozen this year by the Mekere Morauta regime pending improvement in the PNG economy, Foreign Affairs Secretary Evoa Lalatute said yesterday.

The K14 million was derived from a payment of K10 million in 1998 and K4 million last year to Honiara for logistics support and to help boost local police strength and mobility.

Mr Lalatute was speaking in support of the prime minister to counter claims that the PNG government had done nothing, or very little, to help curb lawlessness in the Solomons (and Fiji).

"It should be emphasised that the decision by Cabinet then to provide a budget support grant of K40 million, spread over four years, was very wise," he said. "It was a decision based on the Bougainville experience and that Cabinet had realised that there was no basis for a military deployment or intervention force."

He also denied rumours that a number of PNG naval boats and army personnel have left the country and are on standby near the Solomon Islands waters. "As far as I am concerned, our (navy) boats are in West Irian."

He said the government, through its implementing agencies, have already put in place contingency plans for the evacuation of its 200 registered citizens. The PNG population in Solomon Islands could be between 300 to 350 with the bulk from Bougainville. Sir Mekere said yesterday the situation in the Solomons and Fiji requires very careful handling if worsening violence was to be avoided.

"There are lives at risk in both our neighbouring countries," he said. "The government will not act without full consultation with representatives of those countries or without consulting the appropriate regional and international bodies."

Sir Mekere said consultations have started with Fiji and Solomon Islands, other Commonwealth representatives and members of the South Pacific forum.

At a meeting with the Japanese prime minister in Tokyo early this month forum nations, including PNG, rejected the illegal overthrow of democratically-elected governments.

"The leaders also called for the immediate release of those still detained by armed groups," Sir Mekere said, adding: "The solution to the crisis in both countries must come internally . . . this is a domestic matter for Fiji and the Solomons."

He stressed that PNG will not take on the role of regional policemen.

"We have learnt from our own bitter experience on Bougainville that the only way to resolve crisis like that is to get all parties together over an extended period of time, firstly, to restore or maintain peace and then deal with the political and ethnic factors."

Foreign Affairs Minister Sir John Kaputin, however, warned on Monday that PNG will not allow its territory to be used as a base for hostile attacks against neighbouring countries, or for interference in their internal affairs.

He was commenting on media reports alleging the involvement of a certain BRA faction at Gizo in the western Solomon Islands.

"We will not tolerate illegal activities by individuals or groups who behave without proper regard for the mutual respect between states which is the basis of national security and peace in our region," he said, stressing that the BRA was not a party to any differences in the Solomons.

In Port Moresby for peace negotiations aimed at resolving the Bougainville war, president of the Bougainville Peoples Congress Joseph Kabui denied any BRA involvement in the incidents at Gizo and Choiseul.

"We have many good friends of long-standing on all sides of the Solomon Islands conflict and we will not take sides in this dispute. "We would not wish the horrors of our last 10 years on any of our Melanesian brothers and sisters," Mr Kabui said on Tuesday.

He also called on all of the Solomon Islands combatants to "learn from Bougainville and from the benefits of negotiation rather than war".

Source: The Independent (PNG) - 15 June 00 - Review Section.

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BRA chief, Govt deny Gizo raid

THE Bougainville Revolutionary Army yesterday denied any involvement in the reported takeover of Gizo in the Western Province of Solomon Islands.

Denying reports that 40 heavily armed BRA men were involved, BRA general secretary Robinson Asotau said information collected so far indicated that none of the members of BRA were involved in the raid. Foreign Affairs Minister Sir John Kaputin also denied involvement of Papua New Guineans at Gizo. (See separate story on Page 2). Mr Asotau, however, confirmed that BRA commanders Ishmael Toroama and Thomas Tarii were presently in Gizo to investigate the alleged raid which has left a security guard from Malaita killed. "We are denying any involvement at what is going on in the Solomon Islands," he said. "What has been reported is misleading and is very harmful to the current peace process on Bougainville, particularly the current negotiations with the National Government of Papua New Guinea. "We are very concerned and totally deny any of our soldiers' involvement." Reports at the weekend quoted Solomon Islands acting Police Commissioner John Homelo as saying that five fast boats carrying 40 men armed with M-16 assault rifles landed at Gizo at 5am, cut telephone lines and shot dead a guard from Malaita before local police realised that they were outgunned. Mr Asotau, who had only returned from the fourth round of negotiations with the National Government in Port Moresby, made immediate contact with Mr Toroama only to be informed that he had already left for Gizo with Mr Tarii. "The only other piece of information which is totally isolated with the BRA is that a Bougainvillean from Buin and married to a local woman from Vella Lavella in the Western Province is involved with his in-laws," Mr Asotau said. "All I can say is that he is not a member of the BRA.

"We should get further information as soon as Mr Toroama and Mr Tarii return from Gizo, but for now we are closely monitoring the situation along the border." He added that villagers from Sirovai in central Bougainville, who are traditional border crossers, were fired upon on Sunday as they were travelling to the Solomon Islands. Earlier this year, the Solomon Islands newspaper Solomon Star quoted National Parliamentarian from Choiseul Manasa Songavare as saying that if the situation in Honiara escalated, he would not hesitate to order his people to arm themselves to protect their interest. Mr Asotau said the people from Western Province are dark skinned and can be mistaken for Bougainvilleans. He reiterated that Bougainvilleans would not be involved or be part of the current crises in the Solomon Island because of the current peace process on the island.

Source: POSTCOURIER - 13 June 00

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Mine workers glad to be back home safely

THE first Papua New Guineans to return home following the crises in Solomon Islands arrived safely at the Jackson's International Airport yesterday.

The 13 adults and six children were all employees and relatives of the Australian owned Gold Ridge mine 50km outside of Honiara. The children were the first to disembark from the chartered aircraft with relief shown all over their faces, especially in their smiles. The children's mother, who was also on the flight, is from East New Britain, while their father, an employee of the mine is from Solomon Islands. Their father is still in the Solomon Islands and was the liaison man who organised for Solomon Airlines (Solair) to fly the group to an airfield outside of Honiara where they were flown out to Port Moresby. The flight chartered by Gold Ridge mine to evacuate its employees left PNG early yesterday morning and returned with its passengers just after 1.30pm. Group leader Porak Possing said they were pleased to be back home. Mr Possing confirmed that all PNG employees of the Gold Ridge mine have left the troubled island with the other PNG employees expected to arrive in Townsville aboard the Australian Navy ship HMAS Tobruk today. Mr Possing said the situation in Honiara was very tense and was "waiting to explode". "At the moment there's no law and order and people go around with guns and steal cars and demand anything from the public," he said. He said their lives were never under any threat while they were in Honiara but they witnessed incidents where people they knew at the Gold Ridge mine had their cars stolen at gunpoint by armed rebels. Mr Possing said the Gold Ridge mine has been "demobilised" and nothing was operating at the mine, so they do not know when they would be returning to their work, if ever. He said the couple of weeks' break from work was a relief and they would take time out with their families and relatives. "A lot of us will have a couple of weeks' holidays just to enjoy being back at home with our families and if we do not hear from our employees again in the next two weeks, maybe we'll start looking around for jobs here in the country," he said.

Source: POSTCOURIER - 13 June 00

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Plans to fly out 200 people

SOME 200 Bougainvilleans on Solomon Islands would be evacuated immediately for security reasons.

PNG High Commissioner to Solomon Island Ponabe Yuwa said that the number increased yesterday from 150 they had last week and believed more will show up in the next few days. He said: "Most Bougainvilleans who got married here (Solomons), got employed and some who even applied for citizenship came to our office to ask for assistance as they felt threatened. "The situation is tense, with the news about the BRA entering the island we are concerned about their security." Bougainville Governor John Momis would not comment on the situation yesterday. "I have no confirmed information so I am not in a position to comment, however, if the allegations are true then I'm afraid it will cause further destabilisation to the situation on the island," he said.

Source: POSTCOURIER - 13 June 00

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Aust navy monitors events in Honiara

AN Australian troop ship remains anchored off Honiara as internal political tensions heighten ahead of this week's vote for a new Solomon Islands prime minister.

HMAS Manoora stood offshore from Guadalcanal last night, but kept out of sight over the horizon with its cargo of crack Australian commandos, Black Hawk helicopters and special air service troopers. Australian High Commissioner Dr Martin Sharp said it was in Solomon's waters only if required for further evacuations and was "unequivocally" not here for offensive operations. Another 130 foreigners left by air yesterday as Australian diplomats dismissed accusations that the evacuations were an over-reaction to last week's rebel coup and the deteriorating situation. The domestic political situation in the Solomons took another unexpected twist yesterday with the defection of four government parliamentarians, including the Minister for Indigenous Business Development, weakening Prime Minister Bartholomew Ulufa'alu already tenuous hold on power. Their open defection to the cross benches reduced the multi-coalition government's vote to a maximum 31 in the 50 seat house ahead of Thursday's vote for a new PM, forced on Mr Ulufa'alu after last week's coup. Some observers say the government's numbers could further unravel in the next 48 hours.

Source: POSTCOURIER - 13 June 00

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NO B.R.A. INVOLVEMENT IN SOLOMON ISLANDS SAYS KABUI

MEDIA RELEASE.MEDIA RELEASE.MEDIA RELEASE 12 June 00

The President of the Bougainville Peoples Congress Joseph Kabui today issued a categorical denial of Bougainville Revolutionary Army involvement in recent events in Solomon Islands.

Mr. Kabui, in Port Moresby for peace negotiations aimed at resolving the long running Bougainville civil war, said that he had spoken to BRA Commanders and was satisfied that there was no BRA involvement in the widely reported incidents in Gizo and Choiseul in the Solomon Islands.

The only Bougainvillean involvement of which I am aware has been in the evacuation of Bougainvillean nationals from Solomon Islands.

"We have many good friends of long standing on all sides of the Solomon Islands conflict and we will not take sides in this dispute"

"Bougainville knows the price of conflict only too well and we urge the people of Solomon Islands to work together to resolve their differences"

"We would not wish the horrors of our last ten years on any of our Melanesian brothers and sisters"

" I am advised by the B.R.A. that the B.R.A. disassociates itself from these activities which will do the Bougainville peace process more harm than good"

"Similarly the Bougainville Peoples Congress disassociates itself from these actions and calls upon all of the Solomon Island combatants to learn from Bougainville and from the benefits of negotiation rather than war."

"This matter is one for the Parliament of Solomon Islands"

"Our peaceful negotiations have reached the stage where the Minister for Bougainville Affairs has agreed to take to Cabinet our proposals for Autonomy and Referendum"

"Such progress shows that with good will it is worth giving peace a chance"

ends 12 Jun 2000 Contact: - Joseph C. Kabui Room 407 Gateway Hotel Port Moresby +675 325 3855

Source: BOUGAINVILLE PEOPLES CONGRESS Office of the President

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BOUGAINVILLE: The homecoming

BRIAN GOMEZ reports on a poignant stories of Bougainville women who set the stage for the current reconciliation and peace.

A CAMPAIGN to 'bring home our children from the jungle' during the early 1990s provided the cornerstone for "the birth of reconciliation", according to an article by Ruth Saovana-Spriggs, a member of the technical team of the Bougainville People's Congress.

But other powerful voices also cried out for peace and humanity during the conflict in which some 18,000 to 20,000 people lost their lives due to military confrontations and through lack of medical supplies.

In an article titled "Christianity and women in Bougainville", Ms Saovana-Spriggs tells the exceptional story of a woman under the pseudonym of Anna, who worked as a nurse and mid-wife at a health centre built in the 1960s by the New Zealand Methodist Mission.

The article in "Development Bulletin", published by ANU's Development Studies Network, said the health centre has had no doctor since 1975 following the departure of New Zealand medical workers after PNG attained independence.

Anna, it said, was experienced enough to carry out minor surgical operations at the centre, which catered for three major language groups and a population of about 14,000 people.

Ms Saovana-Spriggs tells Anna's story: "From the beginning of the war, Anna made a conscious decision to attend to all wounded who came to the centre, not favouring one side over the other. "She often performed minor operations to remove shotgun pellets or stitched up badly wounded soldiers, BRA men and civilians. For her neutral stance, Anna was misunderstood and she and her family were harassed and threatened.

"She was badly beaten up by members of the local BRA branch, resulting in a dislocated hip, a badly bruised face and lacerated hands.

The BRA objected to her attending injured members of the PNG security forces and their local militia allies, whom they saw as the enemy, deserving to die.

"Anna's husband sparingly applied what modern medicine was left to the cuts on her body, and her family and church members prayed for her. Her recovery is testimony to God's sovereign power of healing and the power of faith and prayer."

At this point the story related by Ms Saovana-Spriggs takes an unexpected twist to relate how the young BRA men "eventually recognised the stupidity of their behaviour".

"A year or so later," she wrote, "they persuaded their chiefs, parents and relatives to organise a big reconciliation ceremony with Anna and her family, involving several villages and including both Christian and traditional forms of reconciliation.

"The BRA men sought forgiveness from Anna and her family and kin, who joined in prayers for reconciliation. A huge amount of traditional currency and other gifts was given to Anna and her family as compensation, followed by a feast and much hand shaking."

Anna also tells her story in a simple and straightforward manner. "It was the most difficult time of my career as a health worker in a rural community. "The health centre where I worked for over 15 years had very little medicine.

"Every form of communication and transportation was cut off when the PNG Government imposed a complete blockade on Bougainville in 1990."

Anna said she used to risk her life by walking to a Catholic clinic that was still receiving some medicine from the International Red Cross, mainly anti-malarial drugs.

She said it was her duty to attend to everyone who needed medical attention. "It was my duty to save lives which meant making no distinctions between race or ethnic groups, religion, soldiers or civilians," she said, noting that sometimes two or three armed BRA men would come and seize the medicine at gunpoint.

The PNG security forces also meted out their share of harassment and threats and "soldiers came drunk and armed to the health centre, often in the middle of the night, and shouted at nurses to attend to them, or used the only maternity ward as a toilet".

While admitting to the difficulty in maintaining "a balanced attitude", she said that after she was badly beaten she decided not to work again.

"But after a while I saw the need of the people. It was my love for them, and their love for me and my family that kept me going. Besides this, God was my support," she said. "Nowadays, my family and I are constantly flooded with gifts, even from people we do not know. It is a great blessing and we thank God for that."

According to Ms Saovana-Spriggs, the PNG Government established a system of military occupation in areas not dominated by the BRA.

"People were herded into refugee camps, where human rights abuses, intimidation, harassment, rape and killings were frequent," she said.

During the political vacuum of 1990-94, when there was virtually no civilian government, the often-traumatised people committed themselves strongly to their various churches, she wrote.

It was during this period that many women launched a campaign to "bring home our children from the jungle - that is, the young men who took up arms with the rebels to fight for Bougainville's independence.

"This action by women was the birth of reconciliation and opened up other areas such as mediation and negotiation between the rebels, the people and the PNG Government," Ms Saovana-Spriggs wrote.

"It was the beginning of the peace process, culminating in a ceasefire signed in April 1998 by all the warring factions."

One of the women spearheading this campaign was 'Maria', who had taught at a Catholic agricultural centre in Bougainville before the civil war broke out.

She formed a Catholic Women's Group, which sought to persuade northern rebel members to abandon the fighting and come home.

Maria too tells her story.

"We tracked through mountains and valleys, crossing rivers week after week, month after month. This was the most trying time for us. But we had to show the BRA that we were serious," she said.

"We learned local traditional medicine from our old people. We saw the jungle with a different eye. It became our source of medical and food supplies. Plants, leaves, roots, fruits, the bark of trees as well as marine life became useful as medicine."

Maria said trust was slowly built up with rebel members who finally realised "that the women are picking up the bits and pieces from what they, the men, have destroyed".

Ms Saovanna-Spriggs said her concern at the moment was to ensure that women participated in the governing process in Bougainville in the future.

Ordinary village women had succeeded, she said, in venturing into the jungles and mountains to bring home their children.

"The coming home occurred in waves, one by one, in twos or in groups, sometimes after weeks, months or years of women's persistent efforts. It was a great joy to the women when the young men came home," she said.

Source: The National, 9 June 00 - Weekender

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Goldmine shut down after rebel plunder

By JANE COUNSEL

The attempted coup in the Solomons has written yet another chapter in the turbulent history of the Gold Ridge mine, the island nation's biggest revenue spinner.

Yesterday its new owners, Delta Gold, decided as a precautionary measure to stop mining operations overnight and evacuate a handful of non-essential staff to Honiara.

About 40 Australian, British and New Zealand nationals remain on site.

On Monday members of the Isatabu Freedom Movement militia raided the mine and stole weapons and vehicles.

But Delta Gold's managing director, Mr Terry Burgess, yesterday denied reports that mine staff had been taken hostage, saying there had been no Malaita employees on site for three weeks.

Delta had not been told of any hostages, he said, and this morning management would review whether to restart mining.

Gold Ridge started production in late 1998 after overcoming three years of legal challenges from rebel landowners who were demanding compensation for environmental damage they claimed the mine would cause to rivers.

The Australian law firm Slater and Gordon acted on behalf of several landowners and the legal battle went all the way to the Solomon Islands High Court before the last of the claims was struck out last year.

Although the mine has been employing Guadalcanalese and Malaitan people, as a major local operation that generates more than half of the nation's GDP it has unwittingly become a focus for simmering ethnic tensions.

These have been building for 18 months and have boiled over several times at Gold Ridge. The most serious incident was in July, when two Guadalcanal rebels were killed and two policeman seriously wounded during a gun battle near the mine.

While regarded as a viable gold operation by the Australian investment community, Gold Ridge has always been viewed as a particularly risky investment.

When Delta Gold announced in March that it was acquiring the mine from Ross Mining, the company was savaged on the stockmarket, with its share price hitting an 18-month low.

Although Delta, which officially took over running Gold Ridge less than a month ago, is optimistic about the situation in the Solomons Islands, there is already talk it could become the next Bougainville.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald - 7 June 00

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Miriks' murder 'sparks tensions in Bougainville'

A RUMOUR that soldiers murdered Bougainvillean boxer and Olympic hopeful Tony Miriks has resulted in the rebels guerrillas taking up arms for the first time in two years, a rebel source said yesterday.

But no shots were fired, the source said, and the rebels retired after abusing Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) garrison troops at Arawa, accusing them of knifing and mutilating Mr Miriks.

Neither police nor the PNGDF could confirm the incident - on Tuesday ahead of the the fourth round of Bougainville peace talks in Port Moresby.

An Australian lieutenant-colonel with the multi-nation Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) at Loholo, Bougainville reported conditions on the island as quiet and normal.

The rumour of army complicity in Mr Miriks' murder last Friday or early Saturday surfaced in Port Moresby yesterday, among senior PNGDF officers at Murray Barracks headquarters.

The source of the rumour is unclear, but it was graphic - that soldiers ambushed Mr Miriks after a drinking session at Boroko, last Friday, stabbed him repeatedly in the head, chopped off his right hand, stuffed his mouth with burning leaves and wrapped his head with tape.

His body was found on Saturday morning. Police announced his killing on Monday - allegedly in a drunken brawl - but said his injuries were limited to stab wounds to the head.

Whatever the truth or otherwise of the rumour, it apparently emerged first on Bougainville and angered former rebels, who have maintained a ceasefire with the PNGDF since 1998, when the PMG moved in.

Mr Miriks returned to PNG only last Thursday after winning a silver medal at the Oceania Boxing Championships in Canberra.

Forests Minister Michael Ogio - like Mr Miriks, a Bougainvillean - has lamented that the boxer was the third athlete from his home island to die recently.

Commonwealth lightweight champion John Aba was run over by a car - rumour has it that it was deliberate, although police class it as an accident - and South Pacific Games gold medallist Howard Gereo was killed in a car smash.

At Murray Barracks, PNGDF Acting Commander, Brigadier-General Carl Malpo, denied any knowledge of the rumour that soldiers were involved in Miriks' death.

He told AAP: "No, it was not soldiers (involved)...we must wait for police investigations to be completed."

He also said he had not received intelligence of any tension or violent behaviour on Bougainville.

However, a source with the Bougainvillean delegation at the Port Moresby peace talks said yesterday: "We have good intelligence from home. Yes, BRA boys picked up weapons and shouted at the soldiers at Arawa. We have heard this story that soldiers murdered Miriks."

Despite the reported tension on Bougainville, the peace talks were reported to be progressing. - AAP

Source: The National - Friday, 2nd June 00

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Boxers not safe in Port Moresby

I READ with great disbelief about the death of Tony Miriks. It was indeed a great loss to all of us his friends, fellow boxers, supporters here in PNG and brothers and sisters at home in Bougainville.

I believe that the people who are responsible for his death have done it because of jealously.

It seems that some of our youths have no pride in our sportsmen and women. Miriks was a great boxer and if he had not been outclassed by the more superior Australian he would be representing Papua New Guinea in the Olympic Games.

PNG, in the past years have been represented by such "one man sportsman" in the major competitions like the Olympic Games.

I don't know why we should go about murdering such sportsman. Too bad for the boxers.

First it was Johnny Aba the great champion who was also killed in Port Moresby. Another fine boxer who had also died near is Gereo. And now is Tony Miriks.

As a Bougainvillean, I'm appealing to Lynch Ipera and any upcoming boxers from Bougainville to go home and be safe at home.

I also appeal to Bougainville leaders not to allow any more boxers from Bougainville to represent PNG in international fixtures.

Let's develop boxing at home and stop sending our boxers out of Bougainville. We cannot go on losing our boxers like this. Enough!

Martin Kaustena,
Unitech, Lae

Source: The National - Friday, 2nd June 00

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Why risk our lives?

AS a Bougainvillean I write regarding the death of a friend, and a brother Miriks.

It seem to me that it is time for the Bougainville boxers not to travel out of Bougainville. If the people in PNG cannot look after us, respect us as sportsmen and women why should we risk our lives living in Moresby and representing PNG in major games?

I appeal to all thinking Bougainvilleans to pressure the new Bougainville government as soon as it is capable to establish a boxing development institution at home so that our boxers can stay home instead going to Moresby or Goroka.

I believe that it is not safe for the boxers to travel out especially to Port Moresby because it is too risky there.

John Aba had died in Moresby, Gereo also died in Moresby and now Tony Miriks. I appeal to any Bougainvillean boxer who is living in Moresby or elsewhere in PNG to go home and be safe at home.

Bougainvillean,
Port Moresby

Source: The National - Friday, 2nd June 00

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Three PNG defence force officers found guilty of mutiny

Three Papua New Guinea Defence Force officers have been found guilty of mutiny charges relating to the 1997 Sandline crisis.

But, as Richard Dinnen reports, the man who led the operation against the Sandline mercenaries, has been acquitted:

Major Walter Enuma was appointed by then commander Jerry Singirok to lead Operation Rausim Kwik -- which removed British mercenaries hired to fight on Bougainville. Enuma and four officers, Captains Michael David, Bola Renagi, Belden Namah and Lieutenant Linus Osaba, were charged with mutiny -- relating to a raid on the Defence Force operations centre and the detention of interim commander Leo Nuia. The PNG National Court has acquitted Major Enuma and Captain David -- the other three were found guilty and will be sentenced this week. But, Major Enuma says he will ask the Prime Minister to pardon them.

This service includes material from Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.

(c) 2000 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Source: Radio Australia - World News 1 June 00

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Indonesia issues warning over West Papua -(7.01am)

Indonesian Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab says his government will take all necessary measures to secure national unity if a landmark conference in West Papua, formerly Irian Jaya, calls for independence.

Several thousand delegates from across the resource rich province are meeting this week and appear set to declare their intention to break away from Indonesia.

The Congress is currently split between those who wish to declare immediate independence and those who want to achieve an independent West Papua through dialogue and international mediation.

Dr Shihab says breaking away from Indonesia, would be against the constitution, and he refused to rule out sending more troops in to secure the province.

Of course we are concerned if discussion goes beyond the limit, as to say declare independence we are concerned about that and we have to take necessary measures.

This service includes material from Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.

(c) 2000 Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Source: Radio Australia - World News 1 June 00

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Autonomy will not break PNG: Kabui

THE highest possible autonomy for Bougainville will not break the rest of PNG.

President of the Bougainville Peoples Congress Joseph Kabui said in Port Moresby on Tuesday night that the worst possible scenario would be regional governments, which was not a bad idea. "I don't think PNG will disintegrate. I don't think it will disintegrate by giving autonomy to Bougainville. Worst scenario for PNG is it will disintegrate into regional governments or States or federal system of government. That's what we want," he said. Mr Kabui said the world trend today was for wise leaders to give power to the people to look after themselves. The BPC president was speaking on the eve of the fourth round of political talks on the future of Bougainville. Mr Kabui said history shows Melanesians were troubleshooters in the region, given the Mataungan movement in late 1960s, Jimmy Stevens in Vanuatu, the Kanaki movement in New Caledonia, the two Fiji coups of 1987, followed closely by Bougainville, the recent Solomon Islands uprising and now the third Fiji coup. Mr Kabui said his earlier prediction about an uprising among Papua New Guineans was very real and leaders need to be wary. "The challenge is on the leaders to try and solve these problem in a way that must be handled, start with Bougainville and then look at other provinces," he said. He said they had come back to Port Moresby with a bigger delegation representing all sectors of the province and they were here for hard work including "tough, honest talking". These included working double time to put in place things that were never done following the Loloata Agreement.

Source: Postcourier - 1 June 00

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Contact Details:

BFM - Bougainville Freedom Movement (Coordination in Australia):
VIKKI JOHN - e-mail: vikki@law.uts.edu.au
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
tuluan@ar.com.au
Phone/Fax +61-2-9804-7632 , Mobile +61-(0)414-226-428

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

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