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
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.