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Bougainville Updates

This page carries the November 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: November 2000


Bougainville meeting cancelled

NO discussions took place yesterday between the National Government and Bougainville leaders on the political future of the province.

The meeting at Parliament House did not go ahead as technical officers from both sides were not ready. The meeting was set to restart the political leaders' negotiations on the question of highest autonomy for Bougainville after last Thursday's walkout by the Bougainville delegation. The team walked out when it accused the National Government delegation of backtracking on some key issues on discussions about autonomy. The talks are expected to start today, if the technical officers are ready.

Source: Postcourier - 30 Nov 00

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Negotiations on B'ville to resume today

NEGOTIATIONS on the political future of Bougainville will resume today.

No talks were held between the National Government's negotiating team and the Bougainvillean leaders on Friday or Saturday after the Bougainvilleans team walked out of the talks on Thursday afternoon. The team, co-led by Governor John Momis and Bougainville People's Congress president Joseph Kabui, walked out of the talks after what they said was the National Government's back tracking on a number of issues critical to their push for an autonomous government and a referendum on the political future of the province. Mr Kabui said yesterday afternoon he and his team was intact and would wait for talks to resume today. "Nothing happened last Friday or Saturday," Mr Kabui said. He said there was an understanding reached with the National Government last Thursday that the negotiations will resume today. "There is an understanding in place that both parties will get together again and carry on the negotiations tomorrow (today)," he said. "That's contained in a letter Sir Michael (Somare, Bougainville Affairs Minister and the leader of the Government team) sent to me and Governor Momis. "We are still here. "My team is all intact and we are ready to continue the negotiations." On Friday, Sir Michael told Parliament during Question Time the talks were discontinued prematurely last Thursday because the Bougainvillean leaders were unhappy with the "wording" and had walked out in protest. He said the walkout by the Bougainvilleans had come at a time when discussions had reached a critical stage. Negotiations up to that time had been "very good", adding his side had been in touch with the Bougainvilleans immediately to organise reconvening the talks. Sir Michael said such a walk out was expected at such negotiations. Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta reiterated his Government's commitment to the peace process, saying Bougainville would continue to be a priority area for his Government.

Source: Postcourier - 27 Nov 00

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Bougainville leaders issue referendum ultimatum

BOUGAINVILLEANS seeking autonomy and possible independence yesterday demanded an undertaking from the National Government that a promised referendum on independence would be held in five years.

The supposed final round stalled yesterday when the Bougainville delegation walked out on Foreign Affairs and Bougainville Minister Sir Michael Somare and a bipartisan national delegation. Sources close to the Bougainvilleans said yesterday that the walkout was sparked by a statement by Sir Michael that the referendum would "not be held for 10 to 15 years". The minister yesterday made repeated attempts to get the Bougainvilleans back into negotiations. But their leaders, led by Bougainville People's Congress president Joseph Kabui, interim government Governor John Momis and Leitana Council of Chiefs leader Joel Banam, presented Sir Michael with an ultimatum. The ultimatum demanded that Sir Michael revert to an earlier "promise" that the referendum would be held in 2006, sources said. Mr Momis took the letter to Sir Michael and other government officials yesterday afternoon. Last night Mr Momis had still not returned with a reply. The nature of the reply will determine whether the truncated talks resume today or are abandoned. Meanwhile, reports from Bougainville said a major rift has developed in the Bougainville rebels, leading to infighting among senior commanders from Central Bougainville and Buin in South Bougainville. Confirmed reports indicate differences between the BRA have triggered a wave of violence in the last couple of months, the most recent case being the two incidents on Saturday where two men were killed and another wounded at Kararu village outside Buin. Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Michael Somare told Parliament that he had received a brief on the matter and is awaiting the full report. "Yes, there was one rebel leader who had started fighting with another group involved in the Bougainville conflict," he said. Sir Michael was responding to questions from Member for Tewai Siassi Mao Zeming. Reports from Buka said the North Bougainville Liaison Committee mediating between the two factions had hit a snag, when Central Bougainville BRA commanders refused to attend a meeting organised at Malasang village, Buka on Wednesday. As of Wednesday, a committee headed by John Angamata and former BRA planner Ben Kamda had not given up trying to broker peace between the two factions. According to a report on Saturday's killings, the first case involved a drunk who was walking home to Kararu when three men armed with high powered rifles came up to him and shot him dead. In the second case, two men were ambushed - one was shot dead and the other wounded. The injured man was airlifted by the Peace Monitoring Group to Buka on Sunday morning. He is recovering in hospital. Mr Kamda said he is confident that the meeting would be held, with or without the BRA commanders from Central Bougainville. "I will still travel with my team to Arawa and talk with Ishmael Toroama and his commanders. "This is a very serious matter and we from North Bougainville are offering our area as a neutral venue for the meeting." Bougainville police have released names of the two deceased: Joe Kui from Kararu village and Liliun Pevo of Nakorei village, just outside of the former administrative township of Buin. Provincial police commander Joseph Bemu said the situation in Buin is quiet, but tense.

Source: The National - Friday, 24 Nov 00

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Bougainville negotiations resume

Negotiations have resumed between the Papua New Guinea Government and Bougainville leaders on future political and administrative arrangements for Bougainville.

The talks ended abruptly yesterday when Bougainville leaders walked out, accusing the Government of reneging on earlier agreements. Government delegation leader Sir Michael Somare later apologised for what he called an unfortunate misunderstanding -- and Bougainville leader Joseph Kabui agreed to resume negotiations. But the talks are continuing without hard-line Bougainville Revolutionary Army delegates -- who pulled out on Monday, frustrated at the lack of progress. The negotiations today are focussing on how much autonomy would be granted to Bougainville, and whether the question of independence would be included in a future referendum. (16:55:23 AEST)

Source: Radio Australia, 23 November 00

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Negotiations on Bougainville's political future close to collapse

Negotiations on Bougainville's political future appear close to collapse today.

Richard Dinnen reports a majority of Bougainville leaders have pulled out of negotiations with the Papua New Guinea Government.

HARD-LINE BOUGAINVILLE LEADERS PULLED OUT ON MONDAY, FRUSTRATED AT THE PAINFULLY SLOW PROGRESS. NOW MODERATE LEADER JOSEPH KABUI HAS WITHDRAWN, ACCUSING THE PNG GOVERNMENT OF RENEGING ON A PREVIOUS COMMITTMENT TO INCLUDE THE QUESTION OF INDEPENDENCE IN A FUTURE REFERENDUM. EFFORTS CONTINUED THROUGH THE NIGHT TO PERSUADE MR KABUI TO RETURN FOR TALKS TODAY -- IT'S NOT YET KNOWN IF HE WILL AGREE. THIS SORT OF BRINKMANSHIP HAS BEEN USED MANY TIMES DURING BOUGAINVILLE TALKS, AND THIS LATEST WITHDRAWAL MAY JUST BE A STRATEGIC MANEOUVRE. BUT WITH THE PROCESS MONTHS BEHIND SCHEDULE, AND NO AGREEMENT IN SIGHT, THIS MAY BE THE POINT AT WHICH THE BOUGAINVILLE LEADERSHIP BREAKS OFF NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE PAPUA NEW GUINEA GOVERNMENT. (10:02:27 AEST)

Source: Radio Australia, 23 Nov 00

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Bougainville leaders pull out of negotiations

The process of determining Bougainville's political future hangs in the balance. Richard Dinnen reports Bougainville leaders have pulled out of negotiations with the Papua New Guinea Government.

NEGOTIATIONS IN PORT MORESBY BROKE DOWN LATE YESTERDAY. THE BOUGAINVILLE DELEGATION ACCUSED THE PNG GOVERNMENT OF RENEGING ON A PREVIOUS COMMITMENT TO INCLUDE THE QUESTION OF INDEPENDENCE IN A FUTURE REFERENDUM. THE GOVERNMENT NOW SAYS IT WILL ONLY DISCUSS THE PROSPECT OF AUTONOMY. MODERATE BOUGAINVILLE LEADER JOSEPH KABUI LED HIS TEAM OUT OF THE TALKS, AND EFFORTS WERE MADE DURING THE NIGHT TO PERSUADE HIM TO RETURN TODAY. BOUGAINVILLE AFFAIRS MINISTER SIR MICHAEL SOMARE HAS AGREED TO REMAIN IN PORT MORESBY TO CONTINUE NEGOTIATIONS, BUT IT'S UNCLEAR IF ANY OF THE BOUGAINVILLE LEADERS HAVE BEEN PERSUADED TO ATTEND. (07:13:06 AEST)

Source: Radio Australia, 23 Nov 00

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We want a nation within a nation, says Kabui

BOUGAINVILLE wants to be a nation within a nation in Papua New Guinea -- with its own currency, taxation, police and international trade, Bougainville People's Congress president Joseph Kabui said on Monday night.

Confirming the accuracy of information given to the Australian Associated Press in the past week, Mr Kabui -- a former Bougainville rebel leader during the 1989-1998 struggle of secession -- said the National Government could retain control of defence and "some functions of foreign affairs". Mr Kabui also confirmed that the sticking point in the current round of negotiations with Waigani, led by Foreign Affairs Minister and Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Michael Somare, was the degree of power Bougainvilleans would be given on the 'autonomous' island. "Our concept of an autonomous government for Bougainville is one that must give the people of Bougainville a sense of being a nation within a nation," he said. "This means equal partnership, if there is any disagreement then we'll sort these out through the process of consultation. The concept of autonomy must be sorted out." Other rebel militants who had been part of the reconciliation process with Port Moresby since the 1998 ceasefire abandoned the current talks on Sunday, declaring they were "sick and tired" of the National Government's "empty promises" of autonomy and an eventual referendum on total independence. Mr Kabui, Bougainville Interim Government Governor John Momis and some other moderates were still locked in this alleged 'final' round of peace talks, which started in Port Moresby on Sunday. Deputy Governor Gerard Sinato said in a statement last night that he was saddened by the rebels' decision to pull out from the current negotiations. Mr Sinato said he hoped the outcome of the current negotiations could put back on track the peace process, which is on the verge of collapse due to the withdrawal of the major partners. He appealed to the Bougainville parties to maintain the Nehan Resolution as the basis for moving towards a lasting political solution. In a separate statement, Bougainville resistance force chairman Hillary Masiria said the resistance fighters remained committed to the peace process. "We have told our people that enough is enough, a statement which rules out further violence on Bougainville," Mr Masiria said.

Source: The National, 22 November 00

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Bougainville talks 'at break point'

By KEVIN RECKITTS of AAP

PEACE on Bougainville is at break point, according to sources close to the final session of three years of reconciliation talks which got underway in Port Moresby yesterday.

Frustration with Port Moresby's intransigence has reached the point where militant Bougainvillean politicians might well decide this week to abandon the peace process "and go back to the bush (war)", they said. The final sticking point would not be Bougainville's demand for a referendum on complete independence from PNG, but the degree of autonomy that the National Government is prepared to grant in a new dispensation of power to the island province.

A "final" political solution to the Bougainville problem was officially due on Sept 17. This was postponed to Oct 17, during the leaders' talks in Port Moresby, but ended in a stalemate. Yesterday, Foreign Minister and Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Michael Somare started a new round of negotiations with Bougainville Interim Government Governor John Momis, Bougainville People's Congress president Joe Kabui and other island leaders. One source close to the current round of talks said the former major demand of the Bougainvilleans - a referendum on remaining part of PNG or opting for independence - was no longer a major impediment to a lasting peace. "Back in March, Somare acceded to the notion of a referendum, promising Bougainvilleans that he would try to persuade the National Government and Parliament to accede to this constitutional change," one source said. "The major problem now is the Bougainvilleans' demand for the greatest degree possible of autonomous government. "They accept that they can't have foreign affairs powers, but they want their own police force - essentially, their own paramilitary 'army' - they want certain immigration powers, they want their own judiciary and courts, taxation and finance department powers. "They feel that if they get some or all of these powers, the question of a referendum on complete independence might fade away in the minds of the real militants amongst them. "But the Government won't budge on these demands, or at least they can't make up their minds about them."

Adding a greater sense of intransigence or indecision was the current political instability in the National Government. Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta is planning to shut down Parliament from December until July 23 next year to avoid the possibility of a no-confidence vote mounted by the opposition allied with disgruntled multi-coalition government MPs. "This means they (the government) are taking their eye off the ball - they are being distracted by their own numbers game to remain in power and they are not concentrating their minds on Bougainville," said the source. "Even Somare is being affected, and he is the most committed in Government to finding a lasting peace on Bougainville. "Some Bougainvilleans say that if the talks don't come up with answers this week, they'll abandon the talks and 'go back to bush', as they say."

Source: The National, 20 November 00

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MEDIA RELEASE 16 November 00

The call by the PNG Minister for Central Bougainville, Sam Akoitai, to feed starving Papa New Guinea troops deployed on Bougainville, is a sad reminder of Papua New Guinea's inability to face up to those tasks which reflect the political realities of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Instead of honouring the commitments made in the Burnham and Lincoln Peace accords to withdraw all military units from Bougainville, Sir Morauta has preferred to flaunt their presence among a people whose everyday contact with the defence forces is a stark reminder of the many human rights abuses committed by them.

The continued presence of the PNG defence forces on Bougainville constitutes a cheap political threat to the peace process. Sir Morauta believes that their continued presence will produce compliance to PNG's domination of the terms under which Bougainville gains political autonomy in its transition to full independence. Given the rag-tag organisation of the military on Bougainville, and their near starvation conditions, their usefulness as a political threat is a standing joke. But one, which Waigani cannot see.

The Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group (CEPG) whom Sir Moratau and the Defence Minister Kilroy Genia commissioned to inquire into and make recommendations on the PNG's Defence Forces arrived in PNG yesterday. But how do they expect the CEPG to do their job when a sizeable portion of the officer and NCO personnel are stationed in Bougainville. Not only can PNG ill-afford the continued deployment of its troops on Bougainville but it is strangling the efforts of the CEPG by not having its full military structure and personnel home-based for this momentous review.

PNG needs a wakeup call. It should immediately withdraw its troops from Bougainville. Australia and New Zealand remain willing to assist in the logistics of this task. With a full military complement at home, stationed and employed on regular duties, the CEPG will be in a much better position to carry out its functions.

For further information please contact:

Vikki John, BOUGAINVILLE FREEDOM MOVEMENT Phone: (+ 61-2) 9558.2730

Source: BOUGAINVILLE - Media Release, 16 November 00

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Soldiers starving again

Akoitai SOLDIERS on Bougainville are again reportedly going without food.

Central Bougainville MP Sam Akoitai told Parliament that soldiers who were supposed to get three meals a day were going without any. They had also been supplied "rotten kaukau" from Lae. He said the soldiers, who were loyally serving the government, deserved three meals a day "at the very least". Defence Minister Kilroy Genia told the House he was not aware of the problem but admitted the department faced continuing problems with money. He admitted there were "serious management problems within the force" that contributed to the problem with soldiers not getting their food supplies. "Problems in the Defence Force are well known. It boils down to a problem of administration - civil and military in the force," he said. Mr Genia promised to look into the matter. Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta also told Parliament the problem of under-funding of the police was resulting in crime again picking up in the capital city. Deputy Opposition Leader Peter Peipul asked how the Government planned to curb crime which seem to be reviving. He cited the stabbing of National Court Judge Gibbs Salika and the horrifying murder of a young woman whose body was found at Hohola as examples of the types of crime again hitting the city. "It's a very serious problem. People are living in fear," Mr Peipul told the House. He said the crime problem was nationwide and urged the Government to do something about it. Sir Mekere said lack of money for police operations was a major hindrance. But even if the police budget was increased by 50 per cent, "you will still have problems with crime," Sir Mekere said.

Source: Postcourier - 16 Nov 00

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PNG Government says adjournment won't affect Bougainville settlement

The Papua New Guinea Government says its plan for a six-month adjournment of Parliament will NOT slow down a political settlement for Bougainville.

Negotiations are proceeding slowly to determine future political and administrative arrangements for Bougainville -- but any agreement would need to be ratified by Parliament. The Government plans to adjourn Parliament until July next year -- to avoid facing a possible no-confidence vote.

In response to questions in Parliament today, Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta said arrangements are in place to deal with any Bougainville agreement during the adjournment of Parliament. Speaker Bernard Narakobi then informed the House that Cabinet could recall Parliament at any time -- if urgent business arises.

(14/11/00 20:00:38)

Source: Radio Australia, Asia Pacific Network, 14 Nov 00 (8pm)

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Ogio appointment boosts Bougainville peace process

THE North Solomons province now has a stronger voice in the executive arm of the Government of Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta.

The province occupies the second highest political position in the country with the post of deputy prime minister given to MP Michael Ogio and South Bougainville MP Michael Laimo taking over the mining portfolio. Mr Ogio, who is also the Minister for Forests was elevated to Deputy Prime Minister last week replacing Mao Zeming. The additional ministry and the elevation of Mr Ogio to the position of Deputy Prime Minister is a sign of the Government's recognition of the reconstruction and rehabilitation work on the island. Sir Michael Somare also retains his Bougainville Affairs portfolio as a sign of confidence, stability and continuity in the ongoing Bougainville peace process. The ministry also gives Bougainville two ministerial posts in common with other provinces like Saundaun, Central, Milne Bay and Morobe. Other provinces like East Sepik, Madang, Western, Gulf, Manus and East New Britain have one ministerial portfolios each. West New Britain and New Ireland do not have a cabinet representation in the current government. Mr Ogio has described his appointment as a vote of confidence by the prime minister in the people of Bougainville. He said, "My people are excited about the appointment." He said his elevation would have a huge bearing on the ongoing peace process on the island.

Source: The National, 14 November 00

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Bougainville leaders warn of frustration over talks

Bougainville leaders say they're struggling to control factions frustrated by the lack of progress being made in talks with thePapua New Guinea Government.

The Bougainville leaders say the talks on the island's political future have stalled and could collapse, if they don't resume quickly. The leaders will be in Port Moresby next week to meet Prime Minister Sir Mekere Marauta and his government on a wide range of issues. Joseph Kabui, President of the Bougainville People's Congress, says the people of Bougainville are frustrated at the government's current approach.

(14:58:02 AEST)

Source: Radio Australia, World News 10 November 00

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WEST PAPUA ARTICLE FROM PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM & PCRC

Dear friends,

Greetings from Suva, Fiji!

Please find attached a report about the recent Pacific Islands Forum in Tarawa, Kiribati, and the important decision taken by the Forum on West Papua. This article will be published in the November 2000 edition of Pacific News Bulletin, the monthly magazine of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement.

PCRC has also published a briefing paper on West Papua, which was circulated to Forum governments in the lead up to the October meeting in Tarawa. Please let us know if you'd like a copy.

Regards,

Nic Maclellan, Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC) 83 Amy Street, Toorak Private Mail Bag, Suva FIJI ISLANDS

Phone: (679) 304649 Fax: (679) 304755 Email: pcrc@is.com.fj Web: www.pcrc.org.fj

Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC) is the Secretariat of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) movement. It is registered in the Fiji Islands under the Charitable Trusts Act. PCRC is a Non-Governmental Organisation in General Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.

Article for Pacific News Bulletin - November 2000

"Historical moment" for West Papua at Forum

The Pacific Islands Forum stand on West Papua is an "historical moment for the people of West Papua", according to West Papuan delegation leader Franz Albert Joku.

Joku, a member of the Papuan Presidium Council, Nick Messet, Paul Masta and Martin Raklung Mehue were given official delegate status at the 31st Pacific Islands Forum in Tarawa, Kiribati as members of the Nauru delegation. The West Papuans were in Tarawa to seek support from Pacific governments in their campaign for independence from Indonesia.

Joku welcomed the unprecedented statement on West Papua from the regional organisation: "We are very pleased that West Papua was given the opportunity in deliberations here in Tarawa, as shown by the fact that the matter was discussed extensively and a position taken," he said. "This is an historical moment for the people of West Papua. After four decades, we are back in our natural habitat, the South Pacific. Our existence and future are beginning to get the attention they deserve amongst the countries and people of the region to which we rightly belong."

The West Papua issue was discussed at the private retreat for Pacific Presidents and Prime Ministers on the north Tarawa island of Biketawa on 28 October. The main focus of the private leaders' retreat on Biketawa islet in north Tarawa was the development of the "Biketawa Declaration", setting out mechanisms for Forum action in case of crises such as Fiji or the Solomon Islands. But for the first time, the leaders of the 16 Forum member countries also issued a statement on West Papua:

Irian Jaya (West Papua)

"Forum leaders expressed deep concerns about past and recent violence and loss of life in the Indonesian province of Irian Jaya (West Papua). They called on the Indonesian Government, the sovereign authority, and secessionist groups to resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue and consultation. They also urged all parties to protect and uphold the human rights of all residents of Irian Jaya (West Papua).

"Leaders would welcome closer dialogue with the Government of Indonesia on issues of common concern".

(The two words "past and" were added to the statement at the full Forum session on Monday 30 October, after Nauru called for recognition of past human rights violations by Indonesia).

Support from Vanuatu and Nauru

The West Papua issue was a sensitive one for the Forum. Vanuatu and Nauru had declared their support for West Papuan independence, and urged other island nations to take up the issue. Australia and Papua New Guinea, however, continue to support Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua, and were initially reluctant to see a strong Forum statement in support of the West Papuan cause. Indeed, many commentators were surprised that the Forum came out with any statement at all (the Australian and New Zealand media contingent saw this as a key issue for their leaders at the Forum and the issue was given front-page treatment in media coverage).

Early in pre-Forum discussion, some Micronesian and Polynesian officials stated that they wanted to take a lead from Papua New Guinea on the issue. Papua New Guinea, like Australia, supports Indonesian sovereignty over West Papua, with the PNG Government concerned over security and border issues. During the Forum Officials Committee and the Forum meeting, PNG representatives asked other Pacific countries to recognise the "sensitive" nature of Papua New Guinea's relationship with Indonesia. Other countries with maritime borders close to Indonesia, such as Palau, were concerned about moving too fast on the issue.

Regional support

The presence of key West Papuan leaders in the official Nauruan delegation highlighted that country's stand in support of the West Papuan struggle. In June, President Bernard Dowiyogo of Nauru wrote to the Secretary General of the Forum Secretariat, Mr. Noel Levi of Papua New Guinea, seeking to have West Papua placed on the agenda of the Forum meeting. Dowiyogo's letter stated:

"The people of West Papua look upon the Forum countries of the Pacific to play an important role in relisting West Papua on the international agenda?I understand that this is a delicate topic, but I believe if the Forum is to continue to be relevant then it must confront such issues which are important to the lives and democratic rights of the people of our region."

Both Dowiyogo and Vanuatu's Prime Minister Barak Sope raised the West Papuan issue at last September's United Nations Millennium Summit in New York - the first countries to declare support for West Papuan independence.

President Teburoro Tito of Kiribati, reporting the leaders' decisions, stated that Indonesia has applied to be a dialogue partner with the Forum (China, France, the United States and other non-island nations hold post-Forum dialogues with the Forum after each annual meeting). New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said that the issue of observer status for West Papua at the Forum had not been discussed in the leaders' retreat (the Forum's policy is that "Pacific Island territories on a clear path to self-government or independence" are eligible for observer status at Forum meetings).

In post-retreat interviews, Australian Prime Minister John Howard stressed that "the sovereign authority of Indonesia over West Papua has been reasserted" in the statement. He stated: "We regard West Papua as part of Indonesia and we won't be advocating anything designed to undermining the authority of Indonesia," but added "we would like the bloodshed to end, we would like the fighting to stop."

Howard repeated asserted that West Papua "is historically part of Indonesia." But in spite of the Australian emphasis on Indonesian sovereignty, the clear mood of the Forum was that historically, culturally and geographically, West Papua has always been part of Melanesia and the wider Pacific region. As in many Pacific countries, the people of West Papua have been separated from other Pacific islanders by colonial lines drawn on the map. Franz Albert Joku, speaking on behalf of the West Papuan delegation, stated that their involvement at this year's Forum has the aim of "fitting us back into our natural habitat - the South Pacific."

President Tito of Kiribati spoke for many Pacific delegations when he told a post-Forum media conference: "Personally, I have great sympathy for the cause of the West Papuan people, just on the basis of culture alone."

Historic links with the Pacific The presence of West Papuans at the Pacific Islands Forum is not a first with a regional body. Even under Dutch administration, West Papuans were active in regional Pacific meetings in the 1950s and 1960s. West Papuans participated in the founding of regional bodies such as the South Pacific Commission and Pacific Conference of Churches, before Indonesia's take-over in the 1960s severed links with other island nations.

In 1950, Pacific island delegates came together in Suva, Fiji for the first South Pacific Conference - the meeting of the newly formed South Pacific Commission. Representatives from the colony of Dutch New Guinea joined fellow Pacific Island delegates at this important regional gathering. Photographs from the time show the West Papuan leader Markus Kaisiepo seated beside Ratu Sir Edward Cakobau of Fiji, Albert Henry of the Cook Islands and Prince Tu'ipelehake of the Kingdom of Tonga.

In the 1960s, West Papuans were studying at the Fiji School of Medicine and Pacific Theological College. Growing from the Malua Conference of Churches and Missions in Samoa in 1961, Pacific churches worked together to found the Pacific Conference of Churches (PCC). At the founding meeting of the PCC, one of the church delegations came from Dutch New Guinea. Reverend Kabel and Reverend Maloali of the Evangelical Christian Church joined fellow Christians from around the region to establish the regional ecumenical body.

For three decades, Indonesia has regarded the western half of the island of New Guinea as the province of Irian Jaya - for the West Papuan nationalist movement, the Indonesian take-over in the 1960s has not ended their right to self-determination. Current Papuan leaders regard their December 1961 declaration of independence from the Netherlands as valid, and reject Indonesia's take-over.

Reviewing the Act of Free Choice

West Papuan leaders are seeking support from Pacific countries for a review of the so-called Act of Free Choice. With this vote in 1969, a hand-picked group of Papuan leaders voted to accept Indonesian control of the former Dutch colony. West Papuan leaders argue that the 1969 vote was deeply compromised, and cannot be regarded as a true act of self-determination. In UN General Assembly resolution 2504, the United Nations simply "took note" of this vote, without formally endorsing the result. Now, West Papuans are calling on the international community to review the UN resolution. They are gaining some support amongst Pacific Island Forum members. Nauru's President Dowiyogo has argued: "The Forum states were not members of the United Nations when UNGA resolution 2504 was adopted on 19 November 1969, and therefore we are not bound by this resolution."

As with other crises in Fiji and the Solomon Islands, West Papua is forcing itself onto the regional and international agenda. There are rapid changes in the country, following the collapse of the Suharto regime, the August 1999 vote for independence in East Timor, conflict in Aceh and Maluku, and increasing mobilisation on the ground in West Papua.

Indonesian military authorities have recently ordered West Papuan nationalists to lower Morning Star flags - important symbols of cultural and political identity - that are flying in locations around the country. Over thirty people were killed in clashes earlier in October in Wamena after Indonesian army personnel forcibly lowered a Morning Star flag, and there is a likelihood of further conflict. Elements of the Indonesian armed forces are arming and training anti-independence militias in West Papua. Church and NGO leaders in Port Numbay are fearful that the Indonesian armed forces and militias could commit further human rights atrocities, as occurred in Timor in 1999.

As West Papuans mobilise to call for independence from Indonesia, their links to the Pacific will grow stronger. For more than twenty years, Australia recognised Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor, only changing policy in 1999. This year's Forum is an important step in the growing regional clamour for a similar policy change on West Papua. As Joku noted when he welcomed the Forum statement:

"I am exceptionally pleased that West Papua's claim for self-determination and sovereign nationhood is beginning to receive some serious attention in the region. The Forum statement is a clear indication that Pacific countries recognise there is indeed a problem in West Papua requiring solution. The most important thing for us is that an important beginning has been made at the Tarawa Forum. It brings the West Papuan plight into a formal international process that will require the involvement of relevant regional and international institutions".

PCRC issued a briefing paper on West Papua, which was sent to Pacific governments in the lead up to the Forum. Copies of the paper are available by contacting email pcrc@is.com.fj, or fax (679) 304755.

Source: Pacific News Bulletin - November 2000

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Cooperation vital: Somare - by Veronica Hatutasi

BETTER cooperation and understanding between leaders from all sides of the camp is needed to reach a final agreement on the outstanding issues on a legal autonomous government for Bougainville, according to Bougainville Affairs Minister Sir Michael Somare.

Sir Michael said that continuing progress towards a final agreement depends on how well leaders from the national government and Bougainville cooperate in completing the route showing the way towards autonomy for Bougainville within the framework of the national constitution and ensuring that lasting peace is achieved. Sir Michael made the comments following media reports this week by Bougainville leaders that slow progress in the political talks could lead to the collapse of the Bougainville peace process. Governor John Momis and Bougainville People's Congress leader Joseph Kabui issued a joint statement saying that over 140 leaders from the island who have been meeting since last week in Buka have unanimously expressed their disappointment over the lack of progress made on the political negotiations. They said about 10 rounds of negotiations have been held since December 1999 and the positions of the national government and Bougainville on almost all of the key issues remain far apart. The statement said the many joint meetings of officials have made no progress towards bridging most of the serious differences between the two positions. Messrs Momis and Kabui said the Bougainville leaders have requested for a meeting between them and the national government by no later than yesterday (Wednesday November 8). They have particularly requested Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta to lead the government delegation at the meeting. Sir Michael said the national committee on Bougainville is reviewing the draft of an agreement on the province's political future jointly prepared by the national government and Bougainville officials in their latest deliberations two weeks ago. He said the draft records areas where the parties have reached an agreement as well as issues which leaders have yet to resolve. Sir Michael said that since the fifth round of talks in Rabaul in early September, officials have been working together to develop an appropriate form of autonomy for Bougainville within the PNG constitution. He said that the cabinet has appointed the bipartisan national committee on Bougainville to represent the national government for talks with (Bougainville) leaders and the prime minister expected both groups to operate through this arrangement. Meanwhile, it is understood that both groups will meet again next week but the venue is yet to be confirmed.

Source: The Independent - 9 November 00

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Appeal for wheelchairs

Dear Bougainville Supporters,

We have received an appeal for a donation of five (5) adult wheelchairs that are needed on Bougainville. Can you assist?

Please spread the word. Thanking you in anticipation.

Yours sincerely, Vikki John National Co-ordinator Bougainville Freedom Movement. PO Box 134, Erskineville. NSW 2043 Australia. Ph: (+61-2) 9558.2730

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Ex-B'ville premier Sarea joins class action against Rio Tinto

By MORESI RUAHMA'A

FORMER North Solomons premier Alexis Sarea has filed a second class action lawsuit against mining giant Rio Tinto, which operated the abandoned Panguna Mine in Bougainville.

Mr Sarea, who lives in the US, is joined by another prominent Bougainvillean figure, Paul Nerau. Through their lawyers, both Mr Nerau and Mr Sarea filed in Los Angeles, California state, their second class action on Nov 2. Their suit joins the first class action suit filed by Bougainvillean landowners in San Francisco on Sept 6 this year against the same company.

Mr Sarea and Mr Nerau have engaged Steve Berman of Seattle law firm Hagens Berman to represent them. Hagens Berman is also representing the Bougainvillean landowners. Both men allege suffering as a consequence of activities at the now abandoned mine.

The lawsuits against Rio Tinto were filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act. Under the Act, foreign nationals can take legal action in the US against companies that violate international law, provided the company has operations in the United States. Borax Inc, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, is based in Los Angeles. The plaintiffs allege that the London-based Rio Tinto, which was engaged in a joint venture with the PNG Government to operate a copper mine on Bougainville Island, violated international environmental laws and committed crimes against humanity, stemming from a PNG Defence Force (PNGDF) blockade motivated by civilian resistance to the mine.

According to Mr Berman, Mr Sarea said between 1987 and 1997 while he was in Bougainville, he was exposed to toxic waste. "As a result of this exposure, he developed a lung condition. "Then, he was placed under arrest and ordered to leave the island. "With his wife and daughter present, a pistol was put on his forehead and he was told his head would be blown open. "After his release, he learnt that seven of his blood relatives had been killed during the conflict," said Mr Berman in a fax sent on behalf of the former people's leader. "As a result of the conflict he suffered property losses. As a result of the (PNGDF) blockade, his parents died. "Mr Nerau also lost five of his nephews as a result of fighting between the PNG security forces and the Bougainville Resistance Army."

All of these events, Mr Berman said, would not have taken place had Rio Tinto not engaged in the wrongful conduct described by the plaintiffs. At press time it is unclear when the court proceedings will take place.

Source: The National, 8 November 00

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Resume peace talks, says Momis and Kabui

BOUGAINVILLE leaders have expressed fears that the peace process on the island may collapse if the National Government and island leaders do not get back to the negotiating table soon to resume the stalled negotiations on the future of the province.

Bougainville Governor John Momis and president of the Bougainville People's Congress, Joseph Kabui, issued a joint statement yesterday expressing concern about the slow progress in the Bougainville political talks. The two leaders were announcing unanimous decisions made by a joint meeting of the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government and the Bougainville People's Congress, which involved over 140 leaders representing all areas and groups in Bougainville. "We have been directed by the joint meeting to request the Prime Minister to agree to a leaders' meeting between the National Government and Bougainville no later than Wednesday, Nov 8. "The meetings also resolved to request the Prime Minister to lead the National Government delegation for that meeting."

The two bodies of the island's leaders have been meetings since Thursday, Nov 2. They have been briefed on the progress in the ongoing political negotiations between the National Government and Bougainville. "The leaders have unanimously expressed their deep disappointment and grave concern about the lack of progress made in the negotiations. "In spite of ten rounds of negotiations over the past 17 months (nine since December 1999), the positions of the National Government and Bougainville on almost all of the key issues remain far apart," the two leaders said. "In particular, the many joint meetings of officials have made only limited progress towards bridging most of the serious differences between the two positions." Mr Momis and Mr Kabui said that the Bougainville leaders were very worried about the growing anger and frustration among Bougainvilleans about the slow progress in the talks. The leaders said that they acknowledge the efforts that the Prime Minister and his Government have made towards resolving the Bougainville conflict. "But lack of progress in the political talks over the past few months is eroding the people's confidence. " Mr Momis and Mr Kabui said that it has become clear that the officials are unable to resolve the major outstanding differences. "As a result, the situation demands an urgent political leaders' meeting. Only political leaders can make the policy decisions necessary to bridge the significant differences between us. "The Prime Minister's involvement in this meeting is necessary because his authority is essential if decisions of such a meeting are to be final and authoritative."

They have also asked Sir Michael Somare (Minister for Bougainville Affairs) and Moi Avei (Minister for Planning) to assist in arranging the leaders' meeting. The combined meeting of Bougainville leaders continued yesterday, and the Governor and the president said the leaders are hoping to get a response form the Prime Minister.

Source: The National, 7 Nov 00

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North Solomons gets free trade zone status

THE North Solomons Province has been declared as a Free Trade Zone area joining three other provinces.

Parliament has approved the North Solomons, the Western, Gulf and West Sepik provinces as free trade zones. North Solomons shares the border with the Solomon Islands while Gulf and the Western provinces border Australia. The West Sepik province will have potential links to the Asian markets through Indonesia. Former Trade and Industry Minister Michael Nali said the Free Trade Zones would contribute positively to the development and betterment of Papua New Guineans in terms of economic growth and prosperity. Mr Nali said an outstanding feature of the free trade zone (FTZ) is that landowners will hold not less then 10 percent of shares, making them joint managers in the zones. The National Parliament approved Mr Nali's legislation for the FTZ areas last July. The approval gives the Ministry of Trade and Industry the authority to recommend tax exemptions on goods imported or exported from the areas declared as free trade zones. Under parliamentary approval, authority is also given to the Internal Revenue Commission to issue general directions as to the manner in which goods are to be dealt with to qualify under the concept.

Goods of any description may be exempted, except those that are especially prohibited by law and may be imported and exported or produced, manufactured, purchased and sold in a free trade zone in accordance with the Act without payment of any customs and excise duty or other taxes. Promoter of the Free Trade Zone concept, West Sepik MP, John Tekwie is now the new Minister for Trade and industry. Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta appointed Mr Tekwie last week. Mr Tekwie who has moved quietly to promote the FTZ concept is likely to move the concept faster now that he is Trade and Industry Minister.

Source: The National, 7 Nov 00

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Bougainville vessel Sankamap still stuck in Cairns

By MORESI RUAHMA'A

THE NORTH Solomons provincial government-owned vessel MV Sankamap is stranded in Cairns, Australia, with some A$30,000 (K47,000) worth of donations bound for the children of Bougainville still awaiting for shipment.

It is stranded because of a debt of some A$200,000 (K317,000) in repairs. The vessel has been stranded in Cairns for the last eight months - since early this year - when it travelled there for refitting and repair work. The ship's captain and a few of his crew members are also stranded in Cairns, according to Cairns-based Bougainville Trauma Association (BTA).

It was reported earlier that because of the financial problems faced by the Department of Bougainville Administration in Buka, the vessel could not immediately leave the slipway. At this stage the fate of the ship is unclear as there has been no word from the Department of Bougainville. Yesterday, a source from within the Department of Bougainville told The National that Governor John Momis' Office is handling the matter of the ship. However, attempts to contact Mr Momis' Office in Buka for comment were unsuccessful. The BTA in Cairns, which was responsible for collecting donations for children in Bougainville, has appealed to the four Bougainvillean National Parliamentarians to bail out the ship. BTA spokesman William Reinhardt told The National yesterday: "We would like to appeal to the four Bougainvillean National Parliamentarians to pool their electoral funds and help pay the bill for the slipway. "We are concerned that any further delay to this ship will be very costly to the people of the island at a time when demands for transport services to and from the province are at an all time high."

Mr Reinhardt also said that the BTA has been collecting donations from the Cairns community and have been counting on the Sankamap to ship the goods to Bougainville. "These goods include wheelchairs, hospital beds, toys, educational materials, and other humanitarian aid," he said. He indicated that an estimated A$200,000 is needed to bail out the ship. "I have been talking with the ship's captain. He is lost and does not seem to know what's really happening," said Mr Reinhardt. Meanwhile, in Port Moresby the Bougainvilleans who have been hoping to return home for Christmas along with goods for home, are also waiting while the frustrations grow. "Something has to be done ... for many Bougainvilleans in the city, we are just hoping to get on MV Sankamap," said one of them.

Source: The National, 1 Nov 00

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Blackout hits Porgera mine as power pylons are felled

AT LEAST two pylons carrying power from the Hides gas field in the Southern Highlands to the Porgera gold mine in Enga province have been felled, sources told The National yesterday.

The incident, which happened last Friday, resulted in the cutting off of power supply to Porgera. The mine had to switch to its generators to power its operations, the sources said. The Porgera gold mine uses power generated from gas from the Hides fields and transported via the pylons, for its operations. Until yesterday, the mine was still using its diesel generators, the sources said. Porgera resident mine manager Peter Neilens could not be reached for comments because he was on a field break, while managing director Evert Van den Brandt was out of the country. Other officials who were reached declined to comment. Communications to Hides have been disrupted, like that of the rest of Southern Highlands. Sources familiar with the operations in the area said Porgera Joint Venture officials have flown to the spot where the felled pylons are located, but they could not say whether work has started to restore the supply line. The sources said that without knowing who is responsible for the damage, it is difficult to say whether the incident is connected to the decision by the National Government to withdraw the powers of the Southern Highlands provincial government.

Source: The National, 1 Nov 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)