Bougainville Tourism News : The Bougainville Government has not forgotten tourism in its economic plans

The ABG has not forgotten tourism development in its plan to create much needed economic activities throughout Bougainville.

New Dawn FM reporting

The Minister for Commerce, Trade and Economic Development in which the Tourism directorate has been parked under, Hon Patrick Nisira says a number of tourists coming into Bougainville has declined given the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.

With the eased of restrictions at the national level, it is anticipated that Tourists numbers will increase in the region.

The Minister said that our current tourists into Bougainville are Business tourists, having interest to participate in developing Bougainville.

He said that the Bougainville Mona Festival has been planned for July this year.

This event will showcase the culture and tourism potential of our region.

This event will focus on the Tourism, Arts and Culture in Bougainville.

The Minister said Planning, Coordination is being done jointly with the Department of Community Development which has culture and arts under it wing and the Buka Town Urban Community Government and other stakeholders who have been supporting the hosting of this event in the past years.

The Minister also mentioned that the Siwai Tourism Cultural Show is a national Gazetted annual event by the National Cultural Commission and will be held again in August of this year.

 

NEW DAWN FM understands the member for South Bougainville, HON TIMOTHY MASIU has invested more than 200,000 kina since the festival started three years ago.

Last year the National Tourism Minister announced the declaration of the show as a national funded event under the National Cultural Commission.

Highlights if the show can be seen on the New Dawn youtube page on this link. https://youtu.be/xRQADpTUojQ

The ABG Vice President and Minister for Commerce, Trade and Economic Development, HON PATRICK NISIRA last week also revealed that the ABG is embarking on developing Tourism Products on Bougainville.

He said that product development have been conducted and promotional footage and videos have been produced and marketed on Tourism Facebook page and Bougainville. Travel website.

And there are plans for the ABG media to showcase sites that have been visited already.

He said logistic access to Benua Cave and other parts along the west coast must be created to provide opportunities towards potential areas that needs to be covered.

The NumaNuma track is another upcoming project which the directorate is planning to revive again with the assistance of development partners.

He said that the directorate wants co-operation from constituencies that live along the track between Wakunai and Torokina.

New Dawn FM understands that in August 2011, the head of UN in PNG, DAVID McLachlan Karr walked that Numa Track for three-days to commemorate ten years since the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed with staff and volunteers including 2 staff of New Dawn FM and documented that walk.

The UN also made some funding support of around 600,000 kina to the locals running the track then but that operation stopped after disagreements between landowners on this track.

For further information on Bougainville Tourism check out

Bougainville Experience Tours

 

 

Bougainville Referendum and Independence News : Special JSB meeting endorses Era Kone Covenant

ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama Opening Address at the meeting of the Special Joint Supervisory Body

I acknowledge the presence of the Prime Minister, Honorable James Marape, the respective Ministers of Autonomous Bougainville Government and the National Government, Departmental Heads and members of the Joint Technical Team. I also welcome our development partners and international friends who are present with us this morning.

I also make special mention of Moderator of the Consultations, His Excellency the Honorable Bertie Ahern. Despite his absence at the three joint consultations due to the COVID 19 pandemic his advice and guidance through the United Nations proved invaluable.

I am very thankful also to the United Nations for their continued support on Bougainville and acknowledge their presence here this morning.

Prime Minister, from the outset I must commend you and your government’s unwavering support to the Bougainville Peace Process through the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

It is a process that you inherited from your predecessors and is more than half a century old dating all the way back to before the dawn of Papua New Guinea’s Independence in 1975. Nevertheless, you have shown great foresight in understanding its historical context and the current political processes on the independence aspirations of the people of Bougainville.

The successful outcome of the 2019 Bougainville Referendum is a testament to the mutual cooperation between the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government. As the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea who oversaw the successful outcome of the 2019 Referendum, it is only befitting that you are here today to set the final path towards Bougainville’s political settlement that reflects the 97.7% of Bougainvilleans who opted for independence during the referendum.

Through the three Joint Bougainville Post Referendum Consultations we have jointly developed a decisive path on the future political status of Bougainville. We have jointly agreed on a timeline (not before 2025 and no later than 2027) and a roadmap for the ratification of the referendum results in the National Parliament. Finally, we jointly agreed on the documented record of the three consultations now known as the Era Kone Covenant that we signed on April 5, 2022.

Formally known as the The Era Kone Covenant on finalization of the Bougainville Referendum on Independence the Era Kone Covenant;

  • Captures the outcomes of the three post referendum joint consultations,
  • Ensures the outcomes of the joint consultations are tabled in the 11th Parliament in 2023,
  • Commits both Governments to jointly formulate a report to brief the 11th Parliament on its role to give effect to Section 342 of the National Constitution, in this case a report on the three Bougainville Joint Post Referendum Consultations outcomes.
  • Provides for the respective executive councils of both Governments to make Constitutional Regulations, prescribing all matters that are necessary for carrying out and giving effect to the Era Kone Covenant in accordance with Section 349 of the National Constitution. The Constitutional Regulations will map out the protocols of the ratification process.
  • The Constitutional Regulations cannot be amended or repealed by the National Government except with approval of the Bougainville Executive Council in accordance with the Bougainville Constitution and the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

The Era Kone Covenant has just been endorsed by the National Executive Council and the Bougainville Executive Council. This formally concludes the process of the post referendum consultations between both governments. A report on the outcomes of the Joint Consultations will be furnished by the Joint Technical Team to brief the 11th Parliament in 2023. Henceforth, the Era Kone Covenant will act as a guide to successive Joint Supervisory Body meetings.

The Era Kone Covenant triggers the next important stage in the Bougainville Peace Process and this is the drafting of the Constitutional Regulations. The Constitutional Regulations will chart the course for the ratification process by the National Parliament while taking into account the referendum results and the Post Bougainville Referendum Consultation Report. In hindsight the Constitutional Regulations will enable the Ratification Process to be an all-inclusive democratic process that will ensure considerations are given to the people of Bougainville as well as the state of union of Papua New Guinea.

Article 1 (iii) of the Era Kone Covenant recommends that the Joint Legal Technical Working Group immediately commence drafting the Constitutional Regulations. I am hopeful that this will commence as soon as the conclusion of this special JSB Meeting.

Prime Minister, my technical team have taken the liberty of formulating a working draft of the Constitutional Regulations. This draft can be used as the baseline for the Joint Technical Team in creating and finalizing the joint Constitutional Regulations that will be presented to both our executive governments for endorsement. As a measure of good faith and mutual understanding I would like to propose that our technical teams use my government’s proposed draft to immediately begin work on the Constitutional Regulations.

Prime Minister, I have a moral responsibility to the people of Bougainville and the twenty thousand lives lost in the Bougainville Crisis to ensure political Independence is granted to Bougainville. However, I understand that you also have a responsibility to the people of Papua New Guinea to preserve the sovereignty of the nation. In spite of our differing views on Bougainville’s future political status I am grateful that we share a mutual respect for each other and our own views. I believe this trust and respect is the foundation of the many progress that we have achieved in the last 19 months.

I look forward to our discussions during this Joint Supervisory Body Meeting.

God Bless Papua New Guinea and Bougainville.

Hon. Ishmael Toroama, MHR

President

Special JSB meeting endorses Era Kone Covenant
The Governments of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea have endorsed the Era Kone Covenant at a special meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body in Port Moresby today.
The Era Kone Covenant captures the outcomes of the three joint inter-government consultations that happened in 2021 in Kokopo, Wabag and Port Moresby respectively.
The Era Kone Covenant now marks the conclusion of the joint inter-government consultations on the referendum results, and outlines the mechanism to table the Bougainville Referendum Result in the National Parliament, including the manner in which the National Parliament may ratify the results.
Speaking this morning at the special JSB meeting, ABG President Hon Ishmael Toroama commended the National Government for their unwavering support to the Bougainville Peace Process.
“The successful outcome of the 2019 Bougainville Referendum is a testament to the mutual cooperation between the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government,” President Toroama said.
“Through the three Joint Bougainville Post Referendum Consultations we have jointly developed a decisive path on the future political status of Bougainville. We have jointly agreed on a timeline (not before 2025 and no later than 2027) and a roadmap for the ratification of the referendum results in the National Parliament.”
Prime Minister James Marape reaffirmed his government’s commitment to the outcomes that were reached in the past three joint consultations and gave his assurance to the people of Bougainville that his government will continue to work within the spirit of peace agreement.
“We’ve established a pathway that we should work towards and we on the national government side, I just want to assure Bougainville that it doesn’t matter who sits in this chair in 3 months’ time, the work for Bougainville has been set and the work we have set will continue on,” he said.
The Era Kone Covenant was signed by the two leaders earlier this month and further required the endorsement of both governments’ respective executive councils in order to be effected.
The Bougainville Executive Council and the National Executive Council have respectively endorsed the Era Kone Covenant which now signals implementation of the next steps.
This will include the immediate commencement on drafting the Constitutional Regulation – which will be the mechanism that outlines how the referendum results will be brought into parliament.
The Era Kone Covenant further binds both governments to ensure that the outcomes of the three joint inter-government consultations are tabled in the 11th parliament in 2023.
This will also include a report prepared jointly by both parties to brief the 11th parliament on its role in giving effect to s342 of the National Constitution on Referendum Results and Implementation.

Bougainville News alert : Hon. Ishmael Toroama President statement commemorating the first year of the #Bougainville Independence Ready Mission

It has been one year since my government launched the Bougainville Independence Ready Mission on April 1, 2021.

My Government’s Independence Ready Mission takes on a three-pronged strategic approach that requires preparations for independence to be implemented internally, domestically and internationally.

In commemorating the first year of implementing this program, I wish to remind us all Bougainvilleans that preparing Bougainville for independence is no easy challenge.

It requires government and people to work together and to work harder in this process to actualize our political aspiration for independence.

For us in Bougainville, we have established our Constituency Independence-Ready Committees across all our thirty-three constituencies through the internal prong of the Independence-Ready Mission.

As President, I call on all Bougainvilleans to work collaboratively with these Committees to progress nation-building and state-building activities at the ward levels.

We can only progress through people-participation in development, adopting social responsibility standards, having a change of mindset and cultivating an attitude of self-reliance in our families and communities.

Our political timeline has been set; ‘no earlier than 2025 and no later than 2027’ and it requires a whole-of-government approach to our independence-readiness.

As Bougainvilleans, we must embrace this timeline and see it as a matter of urgency to get our house in order.

In working towards independence-readiness, my government will ensure that we have the proper systems in place that promotes democracy, transparency, accountability, peace and good order in our society.

In the same manner, I call on every Bougainvillean man, woman and child to stand firm with your government in this process. Our 97.7% vote for independence proves that we are united in this process and we must not shy away from the challenges that lie ahead of us.

We stood united as one people when we voted for Bougainville’s independence, and we must stand firm through this journey to deliver independence together for Bougainville.

May God Bless us All.

Hon. Ishmael Toroama
President

Bougainville Environment News : Jaba River: Do we finally have a sustainable, economic and culturally viable solution to clean up the disastrous environmental legacy of the Panguna mine operations ?

Three years ago, after no national or international action from anyone on a solution to environmental damage for the Jaba River Tailings over 40 plus years, Bana District reached out to some old friends in Australia and asked if there is anything that could be done to stop the deteriorating living conditions for people living along the river.

Often mining activity throughout the world have had a bad name for environmental impact.

This certainly is the case on Bougainville where tailings discharge from the Panguna mine has silted up the Jaba River and overflowed levees, (constructed during mining operations to provide some river adjacent communities tailings and flood protection) covering agricultural land destroying the ability of the local communities to grow their crops, keep farm animals and access clean drinking water.

 

An estimated billion tonnes of mine tailing’s pollution was spread downstream from Panguna, spreading across the Jaba-Kawerong river delta stretching 40 kilometres to the coast.

Fortunately thanks to the 3RE Group, an entrepreneurial Australian collective of environmental, mining and industrial individuals with a long positive history in Papua New Guinea there may be a solution in sight.

3RE Group for free has engaged some of the best consultants in the world to work on the problem After 2 years of sample testing, analysis and modelling of new high tech separation techniques an answer was found.

The removal of some 30 plus kms of river will produce aggregates, minerals and some precious metals that include gold and silver, that will not only clean up the tailings but provide a long-term revenue for the local communities as well as investment in health, education, and training

The Jaba River Tailings can be recycled and exported, it will need K300,000,000 in new infrastructure to achieve this and over 1000 new direct jobs for locals.

“All of this can be funded by offshore investment, zero cost to ABG. It will also provide the framework for integration of many new businesses that will bring much needed prosperity, increased health and education to all sectors of the Bougainville community “said a spokesperson for the 3RE Group

Picture above : Briefing at ABG president residence on 3RE Group Java River Rehabilitation project.

This multi-faceted project needs urgently full support of the communities and the new Autonomous Government of Bougainville (AGB) and following successful investment there will a 20 year project life and economic and culturally viable solution to clean up the disastrous environmental legacy of the Panguna mine operations

For more information go to www.3regroup.com.au

 

Bougainville Mining News : Panguna Landowners and ABG agree to reopen Panguna Mine

Landowners from the Panguna Mine area and the Autonomous Bougainville Government have reached a joint resolution to re-open the Panguna Mine.

The joint resolution was signed by clan chiefs and representatives from the five major clans of the Panguna area – Basikang, Kurabang, Bakoringu, Barapang and Mantaa.

The signing took place at the end of a three-day summit for the Panguna Landowner groups hosted in Tunuru, Central Bougainville this week.

ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama acknowledged and congratulated the five clans and their respective leadership for taking the bold stand to re-open the Panguna Mine.

He said the signing of the joint resolutions signifies the beginning of a new chapter for Bougainville.

“Today marks the ending and the beginning of a new chapter, a chapter to realize Bougainville’s independence,” he said.

President Toroama reassured the landowners that the government will continue to be there to protect the people and their resources through relevant laws passed through the Bougainville Parliament.

He urged the landowners to continue to use the government as a tool to control what rightfully belongs to the people in terms of resources.

The Toroama-Nisira government is confident that the re-opening of the Panguna Mine will be a major booster for Bougainville’s economic future and at the same time, guarantee Bougainville’s political independence.

Following the signing of the joint resolutions, the ABG through the Department of Mineral and Energy Resources and other relevant departments, will work together with the landowner groups to facilitate the process towards the re-opening of the mine.

Bougainville COVID-19 News : Bougainville champions Stand Up Strong – Get Vaccinated!

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has launched a powerful new awareness campaign featuring Bougainville leaders advocating for the region’s COVID vaccine program.

The campaign ‘Bougainville Stand Up Strong – Get Vaccinated! (Bougainville Sanap Strong – Kisim COVID Banis Sut) ’ features vibrant first term politicians Minister for Police Hon. Emmanuel Kaetavara and Women’s Member for North Bougainville Hon. Amanda Masono, school principal Finlyn Mamats, and a range of health workers.

Minister Kaetavara said, “As political leaders, we must lead by example. By getting vaccinated, I can help protect myself, my family and my community.”

Hon. Masono said there were a lot of rumours circulating in Bougainville about COVID and vaccinations, and she advised people to seek out information from the right sources.

“I’d like to encourage people, especially women, to visit their nearest health centre and get the correct information to make an informed choice.”

She said getting vaccinated had no negative impact on her health, and instead had made her feel strong and protected.

Launching the campaign of COVID champion messages adapted for video, social media, radio, SMSs and posters, Secretary for Health Clement Totavun said that vaccination is critical to ensure a healthy population in Bougainville.

“Getting vaccinated is something positive you can do for Bougainville. A healthy population equals a strong Bougainville. Despite all our best efforts, COVID-19 is here and we must stand up to this virus as we have stood up to many challenges before,” Secretary Totavun said.

The multi-channel awareness campaign went live on Sunday with SMS blasts reaching over 65,000 phones. The campaign is backed by Australia and New Zealand who have supported a range of COVID preparation and emergency response initiatives in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville including isolation facilities, protective and testing equipment, emergency medical teams, technical advice and awareness.

Australian Government representative Fiona Crockford acknowledged the power of local voices in the face of a global pandemic.

“Rumours and misinformation spread fear around the world and prevent people from making the right informed decisions to protect themselves and their families from COVID-19,” Ms Crockford said.

“This campaign shares trusted Bougainville voices from all walks of life in engaging ways with a simple message: stand up, get informed and get vaccinated.”

The Acting High Commissioner at the New Zealand High Commission, Dr Nathan Ross, said it was important for Bougainvilleans to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

“I’m fully vaccinated and had a booster because the science clearly shows that this is the best way to reduce the chances of severe illness if I catch COVID. The new Omicron variant of COVID is extremely infectious, and it moves very fast within households and communities – so I urge everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Health Secretary Clement Totavun challenged the people of Bougainville to hear the message from COVID champions and get themselves vaccinated as soon as possible and continue to practice the Nuipela Pasin of wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing.

The Bougainville Stand Up Strong – Get Vaccinated! videos can be viewed on Autonomous Bougainville Government’s Facebook page and heard on radio New Dawn and NBC Bougainville. The campaign is being complemented by vaccine advocacy support to the Bougainville Christian Churches Association, through the Australian-funded PNG Church Partnership Program.

Bougainville News Alert : President Hon. Ishmael Toroama, MHR Statement and joint statement at the Third Joint Consultation Meeting

The Chairman of this meeting; the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea and members of his delegation; the Ministers and members of the Bougainville delegation.

May I also extend a warm welcome to you all to this meeting of our two governments. We have had two consultation meetings since the declaration of the Referendum Results and this is the 3rd and final consultation on the Referendum result. Any political matters remaining unresolved should now go for moderation and may be even for arbitration at an international arena.

I stand here today as a living testimony to the Bougainville Peace Agreement, as a negotiator and as a signatory to the Peace Agreement. When I speak about the Peace agreement, I do not talk theory based on written documents as I have first-hand personal knowledge. In fact, several other leaders on the Bougainville side are also blessed with institutional memory about the Peace Agreement.

I wish to state that as far as my government is concerned, we have taken the “consultation avenue” as far as we can. The timing is now right to address “head on” the long historical issue of independence as expressed in the Referendum Result.

We the leaders of Bougainville hereby declare to Papua New Guinea and the United Nations, the facts on which our long-standing pursuit for political independence is founded.

Noting that the only known cultural and trade links known prior to colonization were with the Solomon Islands and the smaller islands to the east of New Ireland. That the melanin levels of Bougainvillean give unique attributes to the peoples of Bougainville as a distinct group of peoples.

Recalling that the drawing up of geo-political boundaries between the Solomons island and Papua New Guinea including Bougainville was an act of denial by the foreign colonizers without the consent of the Bougainville people.

Affirming that there is a long history of political aspirations for self-determination such as the Muma Rure movement of Siwai, the Napidakoe-Navitu movement of Central Bougainville, and the Hahalis Welfare Society of Buka.

Remembering that as PNG was preparing for Self-Government and Independence, that Bougainville had sent a delegation to the United Nations seeking to be a separate and independent country from Papua and New Guinea.

Noting specifically that on the eve of independence for Papua and New Guinea, that Bougainville announced Universal Declaration of Independence on 1st of September 1975. That the then Chief Minister, Sir Micheal Somare offered “Provincial Government” as a special and unique political arrangement for Bougainville appeasing the separatist sentiments. That the name “North Solomons Provincial Govt” indicated a break from the past political & governance arrangements.

Further considering that the granting of “provincial government system” to the rest of PNG, removed the uniqueness of “the provincial government as a special political arrangement for Bougainville” and “betrayed the Trust” of the Bougainville people.

Noting specifically, that the PNG government failed to renegotiate the Panguna Mining Agreement twice aggravating the concerns of the people. That failure by the PNG Government and Bougainville Copper Limited to genuinely address the concerns regarding the environmental issues, led to the peaceful demonstrations of the landowners.

Remembering that the heavy-handed response by the PNG Government, on innocent civilians including the elderly, women and children, resulted in the escalation of law and order which eventually turned into the full-scale civil war – the Bougainville Crisis. That 20,000 lives were lost from direct combat and from lack of social economic services and that these deliberate actions can be deemed as acts of genocide against a group of people.

Further Specifically Noting that the Government of PNG, using its Constitution and State Institutions, and against international law, and supported by Australia, committed serious crimes against humanity and human rights abuses that can be deemed as acts of genocide in international law. That the states sanctioned measures included the blanket economic embargo and the Sandline mercenaries.

Noting the continued advisory role now being played by Australia Dfat in advising PNG Govt against Bougainville independence.

Further noting that the above history confirms a PNG Govt system that cannot be trusted to stand for and protect its citizens. That against a backdrop of government that cannot be trusted, that independence for Bougainville is seen as the only option to have a political-governance regime that will act in the best interest for and on behalf of the people of Bougainville.

Confirming that the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed as an interim peace and governance package towards a final political settlement with Referendum guaranteed in the PNG Constitution as the mechanism for deciding the political settlement (highest autonomy; independence).

Further confirming also that the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) had met its part of the Conditionalities (weapons disposal; good governance) for conducting Referendum.

Witnessing that a free and fair referendum was conducted under an internationally sanctioned body the BRC on which PNG was a critical member. That two options were provided with a clear majority of 97.7% voting for independence. That the people have clearly indicated the preferred political settlement.

Noting that PNG government has again displayed its lack of trustworthiness by not fulfilling its obligations in fully funding the Constitutionally guaranteed restoration and development grant (K620m outstanding)

Affirming that various PNG Governments had over the years not acted in the best interest of Bougainville and at times actually betrayed the people of Bougainville. And that the only recourse left for the peoples of Bougainville is to demand for the Government of PNG to accord independence as desired by the 97.7 % vote for Independence.

Declaring that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government” as expressed through the Referendum vote. That the indigenous peoples have the right to self-determination.

By virture of that right, they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

I, as the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, now call upon the PNG Government to make a clear declaration to this Joint Consultation and to the people of Bougainville, its’ plans for giving independence to Bougainville, within the time frame set in the Wabag roadmap.

Finally, exactly 20 years ago to the day, all of us here today those sitting across the table, as representatives of our people, and those of our friends from the international community, and those who are here to represent the United Nations, including yourself Mr Chairman, exactly 20 years ago, we concluded perhaps one of the most successful peace agreements, in modern times.

It brought our people together, it brought Bougainville together, it brought Papua New Guinean together, and it brought our friends in the international community closer to us, so that we may join hands and work out a long-lasting solution to that conflict.

We have dedicated ourselves to this process, where we would finally resolve, through a Referendum the future of Bougainville in the greater PNG union that was formed in 1975.

But while we the living have made the choice for independence; the future has been earned by those who have perished from the face of the earth in this conflict.

Today Mr Chairman, I stand here to say only one thing: My friend Hon James Marape, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, I appeal to you, it is now time to let my people go!

Honorable Ishmael Toroama, MHR  

ABG President

Joint Statement at the conclusion of the Joint Supervisory Body Meeting

The governments of PNG and Bougainville today concluded the Joint Supervisory Body Meeting in Port Moresby.

Prime Minister James Marape and President Ishmael Toroama affirmed to work within the spirit and intentions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

The two leaders further reaffirmed their commitment to the jointly agreed timeframe that has been set to find a lasting solution for Bougainville.

Among key agreements reached today, the leaders tabled the Joint Statement that was agreed to in the Joint Consultations meeting yesterday.

The leaders endorsed the Joint Consultations Statement and directed that both governments’ technical teams will work together to ensure its effective implementation as per the Wabag Roadmap.

Other key agendas discussed in the meeting today include the implementation of the Sharp Agreement and other outstanding financial matters.

The two leaders also noted the recurring agendas that have remain unresolved for a number of years such as the fisheries, BCL shares and the Restoration and Development Grant, and directed the technical teams to ensure that these matters are resolved immediately at the administrative level.

The leaders agreed that the next meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body will be held in March 2022 in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Following the meeting, the two leaders jointly launched the Bougainville Socio-Economic Baseline Survey Report.

The Baseline Survey Report is an activity led jointly by the ABG and National Department of Commerce, and provides the government with complete data on Bougainville’s current socio-economic situation, and proposes policy interventions for the government to implement going forward.

Bougainville News : Simon Pentanu discusses Perspectives, Opportunities, Resilience , Care , Perceptions , Governance and Respect

” It is said that some of one’s best personal and country’s successes in life follow after great adversities and disappointments.

How many of us have come through the best of times, the worst of times or when adversity is likely to take us to the brink.

It turns out sometimes this disposition may be a sign from heaven that some marked successes may follow.”

Simon Pentanu : Photo above : A welcoming society that prides in showing its land and its natural beauty, its cultures and traditions, sharing and caring and peace and wellbeing in its communities speaks volumes.

Following are some personal perspectives that are true to Bougainville where we have as private individuals, businessmen, as political leaders, church leaders and as emerging women leaders and youths have the best opportunities in the country to change things in the Region for the better.

This is especially so when the Island has gone through and dealt with every conceivable problem that brought a people to its knees, only to genuflect to a Higher Force and refuse to be broken.

Opportunities

WHY shouldn’t we make our world a new place, a multi-racial, cross-cultural Island of shared benefits and opportunities. We must grab the opportunities we have with both hands. Let us not squander these opportunities and gains we have created. It will take and involve people from other nationalities alongside Bougainvilleans to rebuild the Island. This is what it takes in nation building.

Resilience

A resilience to pursue what we know to be true and believe into the future. Resilience means accepting our reality even if the situation is less desirable than that we were in before. Let us continue to be resilient, a trait that has become an integral part of the people’s leavening modus operandi out of a devastating crisis. Resilience always pays.

Care

We must always care. Care as a people, care for each other. The Government must care and assume responsibility and obligation in rebuilding Bougainville in the conventional sense, for its people, particularly in the ommunities that comprise the population.

With caring comes the duty to protect, provide without expecting anything in return but with leaders and public office-holders exuding clear sense of responsibility for the greater good.

In caring and in our duty of care we must be all too aware that that the greatest threat to Bougainville, and to any  society in the long term is not arms or weapons but carelessness often giving rise to bad governance.

The Bougainville society will be made or unmade by how much attention, commitment, personal and communal care and respect we give to one another and to the land of our birth and upbringing. And too, by asking ourselves how much of what we say do we practice in reality starting at a personal level.

Perceptions

The perception of other people, other societies, other countries about us is important. Confidence and assurance in what we offer and how we offer ourselves as a good and safe product is an important part of this perception.

Tourism and travel to Bougainville can give us a good indicator in how we are perceived by the outside world that is out there. Law and order in society also ranks high in this regard. So too good investment policies and safe investment climate. No nation is an Island, much less so a hermit.

Governance

Let us care enough and hold ourselves to the highest accountability standards starting at the base as individuals and expecting as well as respecting  our government to live up to the same virtues and standards. Let us not just utter or give lip service to good governance. Good governance is the most important standard of measure that will make or break Bougainville. This responsibility must be borne equally in many respects by the governers and the governoned alike.

Respect

Let us also care about and respect other people. Respect transcends all barriers. Let us not do unto others what they would not do unto us.

There is a lot going for Bougainville.

Politically a lot of the important aspects of the political journey has been jointly mapped out with the National Government. It was never going to be easy but the BPA and the amendments to the national constitution gave legal effect and recognition, as well as imperative, on both sides, to tread through this in a careful, considered and measured way. It can be an example to the rest of the world that bellicose rhetoric or behaviour has not got in the way of any of the negotiations thus far.

Bougainville News Special Edition : Today August 30 we Commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Bougainville Peace Agreement

Today we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) that was signed between the people of Bougainville and the Government of Papua New Guinea on August 30, 2001.

The Bougainville Peace Agreement formally ended the Bougainville Crisis and signified the cessation of hostilities between the people of Bougainville and the Government of Papua New Guinea.

It closed one of the darkest chapters of PNG and Bougainville’s history. The BPA set the foundation for peace and opened the way for Bougainville to pursue our aspirations on self-determination.

In the last twenty years our people, our leaders and the Autonomous Bougainville Government have shown great resilience in maintaining our commitment to the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

Our endeavor to attain political independence for Bougainville has always been within the parameters of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

Our commitment has given credibility to the process espoused by the BPA by successfully implementing the requirements of the BPA’s three main pillars:

1.      Autonomy

2.      Weapons Disposal

3.      Referendum

We have achieved Autonomy, we have achieved Weapons Disposal and we have successfully held a Referendum with an overwhelming 97.7 percent of Bougainvilleans who have opted for an Independent Sovereign State of Bougainville.

The theme for the 20th Anniversary of the BPA “Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Bougainville Peace Agreement as the Cornerstone of our Independence Mission” is a testament to these achievements.

It also a declaration by our government and our people of our resolve and the journey we have already begun.

We have enjoyed twenty years of peace under the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the autonomous arrangements that created the ABG.

The next five years are going to be critical as the ABG has declared its position to the National Government and we have set a timeline (2025 – 2027) for Bougainville’s final political settlement.

I must thank the Prime Minister Hon. James Marape and the National Government for their continued commitment on the implementation of the BPA, we have come this far in the spirit of friendship and equal partnership.

However, there are outstanding issues such as intergovernmental finance arrangements, drawdown of powers and the joint autonomy review.

In light of this achievable challenges I recognize the Joint Supervisory Body as the appropriate medium to discuss these issues.

In the face of adversity, we have shown courage by defending our land and our people against an oppressive regime and by the same spirit we have proved our valiance to accept peace. Our journey is not yet over, the next chapter in our history requires our people to unite and to continue to work hard to support our government.

History has taught us that peace by peaceful means has been the only answer to Bougainville’s progress. Hence we must embrace the values and principles that promote peace not only for our time but a peace for all time to come on Bougainville.

As a signatory to the Bougainville Peace Agreement and moreover as President of Bougainville I am proud of the progress we have made despite the many challenges that came our way.

I pay tribute to Bougainville’s past and present leadership for their immense contribution to making Bougainville realize its ultimate political future and that is independence.

“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.”

Happy 20th Bougainville Peace Agreement Anniversary Celebrations to you all.

 

Hon. Ishmael Toroama MHR

President

 

Bougainville News Alert : Rio Tinto agrees to independent human rights assessment of Bougainville mine

The mining agreement, negotiated by Rio Tinto with the Australian government in the 1960s, did not include significant environmental regulations or liability for mine site rehabilitation.” 

Multinational mining giant Rio Tinto has agreed to fund an independent assessment of the human rights and environmental impacts of its former Panguna copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea’s autonomous region of Bougainville.

Rio Tinto abandoned the mine in 1989 during a brutal civil conflict on Bougainville and now no longer holds a stake after controversially divesting its shareholding to the PNG and Bougainville governments in 2016, rejecting corporate responsibility for environmental damage.

The mining agreement, negotiated by Rio Tinto with the Australian government in the 1960s, when PNG was a colony, did not include significant environmental regulations or liability for mine site rehabilitation.

An estimated billion tonnes of mine tailings pollution has now spread downstream from Panguna, spreading across the Jaba-Kawerong river delta stretching 40 kilometres to the coast.

“This is an important day for communities on Bougainville,” said traditional landowner and MP Theonila Roka Matbob, representing the communities involved in the complaint.

“Our people have been living with the disastrous impacts of Panguna for many years and the situation is getting worse. The mine continues to poison our rivers.”

“These problems need to be urgently investigated so solutions can be developed and clean-up can begin. Today’s announcement gives us hope for a new chapter for our people.”

Last November, a complaint by 156 landowners against Rio Tinto was accepted by the Australian government for mediation under its obligations as a member of the OECD club of wealthy nations.

Their environmental and human rights claim states: “The mine pollution continues to infringe nearly all the economic, social and cultural rights of these indigenous communities, including their rights to food, water, health, housing and an adequate standard of living”.

“This is an important first step towards engaging with those impacted by the legacy of the Panguna mine,” Rio Tinto chief executive Jakob Stausholm said in a statement.

“Operations at Panguna ceased in 1989 and we’ve not had access to the mine since that time. Stakeholders have raised concerns about impacts to water, land and health and this process will provide all parties with a clearer understanding of these important matters so that together we can consider the right way forward.”

“We take this seriously and are committed to identifying and assessing any involvement we may have had in adverse impacts in line with our external human rights and environmental commitments and internal policies and standards.”

The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has confirmed it supports the process.

Rio Tinto has not yet committed to funding clean-up and remediation of the mine.

Decade-long crisis

The Panguna mine was one of the world’s largest copper and gold mines, generating an estimated US$2 billion in revenue for Rio Tinto during the 1970s and 1980s.

Disputes over jobs for landowners, environmental pollution and distribution of profits sparked a decade-long ‘Bougainville Crisis’ civil war in 1989 that claimed the lives of nearly 15,000 people.

Landowners also want Rio Tinto to fund long-term rehabilitation efforts.

“This assessment is a critical first step towards addressing that legacy,” said Keren Adams, a legal director at the Human Rights Law Centre.

“However, we stress that it is only the first step. The assessment will need to be followed up by swift action to address these problems so that communities can live in safety.”

“Communities urgently need access to clean water for drinking and bathing. They need solutions to stop the vast mounds of tailings waste eroding into the rivers and flooding their villages, farms and fishing areas. This is what remediation means in real terms for the people living with these impacts.”

Estimates of the cost for full mine site and downstream tailings rehabilitation is in the billions of dollars.

“It’s destroyed the sago palms and other trees … and destruction continues. You can see where the fertile land is covered over,” said downstream landowner and claimant George Posiona.

“It’s taking up a large area and we believe in a few years time we will not be able to plant food. It continues to flow down and destroy this land.”

The Department of Treasury’s OECD National Contact Point (AusNCP) is responsible for mediating the dispute, issue findings, and recommending action to address any breaches.

The announcement comes as Rio Tinto continues to face a federal parliamentary inquiry into the destruction of the sacred Aboriginal Juukan Gorge cave site in Western Australia which contained evidence of 46,000 years of human use.

Bougainville overwhelmingly voted for independence from Papua New Guinea in 2019 and hopes to gain nationhood by 2027.

Debate continues over whether to reopen the mine to underpin the economic security of Bougainville.