Posts Categorized: Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP)

Close call for peace building team at flooded wet crossing

By Eleanor Maineke

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Bougainville’s southern region is connected by the road link that runs from Arawa in Central Bougainville via Panguna and through Bana, Siwai and Buin or via the Arawa-Aropa, Buin, Siwai and Bana route.

The two paths are known for their treacherous wet crossings and are regarded as vital by the population in the South to access most basic services in Arawa and Buka, such as banking facilities.

For public servants, access to Buka is vital to meet with departmental heads in Buka, especially health, education and the House of Assembly for the government in Kubu.

On the 16 of March 2016, the shortest route to Siwai, via Panguna, was blocked at Pikei village of Bana district. The blockade was due to an unsettled case between the law enforcers and a family who lost their son at the hands of the police some months ago.

The case was pending a hearing and it was being prolonged for reasons are unclear. In their frustration the relatives deceased of the deceased hijacked a vehicle belonging to the BABA (Banoni-Baitsi) Council of Elders level of government. The hijack led to the people of Pikei village to block the main highway with the cutting of a huge rain tree that fell across the road.

The blockade greatly affected the public motor vehicle (PMV) services from Siwai to Arawa. The only option left to reach Siwai was via Aropa-Buin highway which is a 3-4 hour drive through a number of wet crossings.

There was an interview consultation scheduled by the Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP) in Siwai on the 16 and 17 March, so the team travelled via the Buin route and reached Buin town around 6pm.

Five minutes’ drive away from Buin town towards Siwai, the trip was hindered by the flooded Siripai River. The river runs down from the mountains of Buin and it is the river that was identified as the river to generate hydro-electricity to the southern region of Bougainville, with a baseline study was said to be conducted in 2014.

When the BPBP team travelling to Siwai arrived, there was already a ten-seater landcrusier locked on a rock in the middle of the river. As the driver and the passengers were trying to push the vehicle off the rock, the flood rose with a much stronger current that eventually pulled off the vehicle’s bonnet and turned over the vehicle.

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There was nothing much to be done just to watch the vehicle trapped, overturned by the flood. Vehicles were on both sides stranded by the flood. The PMV’s travelling from Arawa to Siwai waited till the flood went down and crossed the flood at around 10pm.

Due to concerns for the security and safety of the BPBP team, they drove back to Buin town and slept there. That was the safest decision because the Siripai River was just one of the many rivers that laid away in the Buin-Siwai highway.

The accident that occurred on the 16th of March by the nature of Siripai River was not the first in the southern part of Bougainville. Many vehicles and people have been victims of the wet crossings and floods.

The road conditions and the big rivers in the south are significant issues to the people of Bougainville, especially South Bougainville. There is a need for bridges and fixing the road conditions in the area for proper accessibility and for people’s safety and security.

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The evolution of the Bougainville Peace Building Program

By Eleanor Maineke

684-bpbp-interim-meeting The BPBP Interim Governing Council Members during the 1st Council Meeting on the 28th of September 2015 at the Lumankoa Conference Room in Buka.

The Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP) is a partnership program between the Australian’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

BPBP is funded through DFAT’s program Strongim Pipol Strongim Nesen (SPSN) and was enacted in November 2011 through a Bougainville Executive Council policy decision.

BPBP is currently operating out of its office located in Arawa, Central Bougainville.

BPBP, which currently operates out of an office located in Arawa, started as Panguna Peace Building Strategy in the year 2011 in Panguna district. It was focused in Panguna area because of the fact that Panguna was the epicentre of the Bougainville Crisis and was under the SPSN’s small grant projects.

As time went on PPBS stretched out to other districts of Bougainville to cater for all the districts especially in regard to outstanding crisis cases. Thus the PPBS was changed to BPBP in 2014 and was witnessed by the Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Julie Bishop MP, who was present at the Arawa Coordinating Office of Bougainville Peace Building Program.

During the time when the program was concentrated in the Panguna area, the governing body was called the Panguna Joint Supervisory Committee (PJSC) and was the decision making body for the project. The Committee consisted of the key stakeholders especially the Meekamui, Women’s representatives and the ex-combatants of the Panguna area and the then Mining Minister, Michael Oni, was the Co-Chairman of the Governing Council.

After the 3rd House of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville was elected, the Interim Governing Council of BPBP had their first meeting on the 28th of September 2015 at the Lumankoa Conference Room in Buka Island.

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Family leaves past behind as reconciliation quakes Kupe

By Leonard Fong Roka

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The Roka family has chosen to leave the past behind and move forward in peace as a reconciliation ceremony with the men who killed their patriarch, John Roka, was held Kupe Village on 9 October.

The Kupe Village in the hinterland of Arawa Town was rocked last month as the local reconciliation team from the North Nasioi Peace Committee led by John Donna endeavoured to get to the core of my late father John Roka’s possible reconciliation, retrieval of remains and signing of a memorandum of understanding for a lasting peace between the two parties.

Mr Donna kept up communication with us, the immediate family members, of his efforts to get the Kupe people to open up for the reconciliation, but it was hard for the people who kicked the ball rolling for my innocent father to be killed.

“The men who actually pressed the trigger of the gun are willing and open to reconcile with you, the victims,” Mr. Donna told us on 6 October 2015, the day his final visit to us with the elder brother of David Lompu, one of the men who participated to have my father’s death.

“Time is running out and we cannot waste time and effort on people who do not want peace and healing for all crisis-related issues.”

As the Roka family and crisis victims, we repeatedly told Donna that all we wanted was the revelation of the truth on how and why our father was killed, even against the UN human rights laws on the conduct of war. Our father was an innocent civilian, crossing the line between two opposing groups and fell a victim for the love of a Bougainvillean family.

After 22 years we have walked through pain of the loss and through time we gained healing and understanding of our Bougainville’s political, economic and social struggles thus we opened up to reconciliation for the betterment of our island.

Since the 16 March 1993 we knew certain men in our Kupe village had a part in the events that led to our father’s death, which is detailed in my Bougainville crisis memoir, Brokenville). It is hard denying that the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) men from far off Kongara could come to Kupe without knowing anything.

On his arrival on the morning of 16 March 1993 the first thing dad told us was that he spent some time with a Bernard Ionau, now married and living in the Gohi Village of Selau in Buka but at that time a BRA colonel, just about 2 kilometres away from our Pomong Hamlet in Kupe.

There Mr Ionau, after questioning him, told dad that he was safe for he had come across the rightful man in the BRA and Kupe to guarantee him safety. But he has repeatedly denied involvement claiming he was away in Kongara searching for ducklings.

After our father was killed we learned there were little meetings held towards a deal with the perceived threat our father was posing.

In the same day of my father’s arrival home in Kupe there was a big meeting amongst leaders from the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) led by figures like the late Theodore Miriung, the slain Bougainville Transitional Government (BTG) premier, and others.  That meeting ended on 18 March 1993, after my father was killed.

To the many tales surrounding my late father and the Kupe Village, Bernard Ionau, left him and reached the BIG meeting place and the plot began.

From one of the few secret gatherings two boys were sent off to bring a written note from one of the plotters to one of the three (Kaino, Piruana or Totaisi) BRA camps. It is this letter that we think Steven Topesi, the leader of the BRA team that killed father, claimed to still be keeping during the many mediation meetings with John Donna, Theonilla Roka (my sister) and an employee of the Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP) that spearheaded our reconciliation.

Though the letter has not reached our hands, the BRA team’s openness to reconciliation is what we appreciated especially David Lompu, the man who approached dad first ordering him to remove his wrist watch on his last day, who encouraged his comrades to open up to reconciliation with us the victims at his home.

In Kupe, our reconciliation has sparked off debates of who was responsible to excite the BRA team led by Steven Topesi to kill the late John Roka. Where ever the Kupe villagers are gathering the debate is still going, though we have never learned the whole story

Their debate is amongst themselves thus dividing the entire village into two; one group accuses the other and the other group is very defensive. Individual figures are also captured unprepared and fighting to get off any involvement blame.

But as the victims we are not interested in all this debate. We are free and in peace now after 22 years of injustice and pain. Our father is now resting in our own land and home; this is a blessing for us and our children and our home and people in the Enamira Village of Panguna District.

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Peace building workshop sets sights on reconciliations

By Ishmael Palipal

627-peacebuilding-workshop-kieta Participants of the workshop in Tunuru during discussion session. Picture: Ben Kinah

A three day workshop was held at the Tunuru Parish near Arawa town to address the outstanding reconciliations in the Kieta District of Central Bougainville.

The workshop, which was aimed at the identification, planning and costing of outstanding reconciliation cases in the district, was facilitated by the Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP) team.

A total of 15 people participated in the workshop with representation from the respective Councils of Elders (COE), ex-combatants, women’s representatives, youth leaders and also representative from the Wakunai district.

Board members for Kominiti Empowerment Development Services (KEDs) and representatives from North Nasioi, South Nasioi, Kokoda, Kongara 1 and 2 CoEs were all present at the workshop.

The workshop covered the very important agendas on appointment of Kieta District Peace and Security Committee (DPSC), which is comprised of the Kieta stakeholders, and an elected Secretariat, which includes a chairperson, vice chairperson, the secretary, assistant secretary and the treasurer.

John Donna, formerly chairman of KEDs, has been elected as the Chairman of the Kieta DPSC and the Vice Chairperson elected is the women’s representative from South Nasioi, Ismenia Ketsin. Ms Ketsin was also recently appointed as the alternative women’s board representative from Central Bougainville at the Bougainville Education Board in Buka and was an adept participant of the recent Joint Statement presentation workshop.

 

627-peacebuilding-workshop-donna From left to right are Mr Paul Matera, Mr John Donna and Ms Pauline Manau during the workshop at Tunuru. Picture: Ben Kinah

Meanwhile, the participants of the workshop commented that with the BPBP Team enriched them with learning on the practical application of the good governance and leadership strategies, the appointment of the 15 Member Kieta DPSC and the election of the DPSC Secretariat.

The lessons learnt at the workshop will be applicable in strengthening governance and leadership to address the issues of reconciliation in Kieta District, Central Bougainville and throughout the region as a whole.

Through such occasions, new networks and linkages are established and strengthened within targeted community groups with facilitation from organisations such as the Bougainville Peace Building Program.

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