Posts Categorized: Weapons disposal

Panguna ex-combatant hands over weapon for peace

By Leonard Fong Roka

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Albert Nekinu (pictured right), a former ex-combatant from Barako Village of the Panguna District, willingly surrendered his gun to the local police after he was touched by the Bougainville peace awareness of an auxiliary police officer Junior Taneavi (pictured left).

The young Nekinu joined the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) late in 1994, thus did not see much action with the dawning peace process. But he had a .308 mm WW2 US infantry rifle which he obtained in the Torokina ammunition dumps.

“I had the rifle to fight,” Mr Nekinu said, “but then our leaders talking about peace, thus I did not have much opportunity to go into action against the enemy.”

“But now that we are in peace, as an ordinary serviceman in the BRA, I feel sad when our leaders in the BRA who may have had a voice in the creation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) are still holding onto guns.

“Peace is what our people need to move Bougainville forward to independence,” Mr Nekinu continued.

“We want a weapon free Bougainville where everybody is free as it was embedded in the BPA.”

One auxiliary police officer, Junior Taneavi, is singlehandedly spearheading peace awareness in the Tumpusiong Valley area of the Panguna District.

Taneavi was catalytic to the surrender of the weapon and said that people should work towards a better peaceful Panguna District.

“Panguna District is where the crisis erupted from and so it is our business to get working,” Mr Taneavi said.

“Every combatant in the district, be they from the Meekamui or any other faction, must honour the BPA for it is here we are seeing change and services for us and the people.

“We cannot go elsewhere,” he continued, “the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) is the government we are eating from and nobody else.

“Thus we all have to uphold the BPA and move with it just like our young man Albert Nekinu.”

Mr Nekinu admitted that after listening to all the Officer Taneavi’s words of peace building on Bougainville he felt really guilty seeing that normalcy for Bougainville can only come through the way ABG is moving with in accordance to the BPA so he went home took his weapon and handed it over.

Junior Taneavi then brought the weapon to Officer Peter Tauna (pictured middle with Chief Michael Pariu) who is responsible for policing in the Panguna District.

On Monday 2 August 2016, the weapon was locked away under Bougainville Police Service custody.

 

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Referendum committee visits Port Moresby students

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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The Bougainville Referendum Committee has made time to visit tertiary students in Port Moresby, while they were in the Papua New Guinea capital for discussions with the National Government.

The committee, under the leadership of chairman Hon. Joseph Watawi, participated in the two day session and then made time to visit Pacific Adventist University (PAU) students.

The students were honoured to host Hon. Joseph Watawi MP (member for Selau), Mr. Thomas Tari (South Bougainville former combatant representative), Ms. Marceline Kokiai (Central Bougainville Women’s representative), Mr. Dominic Itta (member for Kongara) and two officers from the Bougainville House of Representatives.

The main purpose of their visit is to gather information and opinions from the students regarding the referendum on independence in Bougainville in the coming years. The students kicked off formal proceedings with welcome speeches by PAU Bougainville Students Union president, Fabien Epota, and students’ representative, Benjamin Heriberth Noibio, with closing remarks provided by Jonathan Bataru.666-pacific-adventist-referendum-committee

The parliamentarians then presented speeches emphasizing the current stand of Bougainville and what needs to be done prior to the referendum.

“Referendum on Bougainville is on our hands, we will not get Referendum on a golden plate, we have to work towards it; referendum is currently like a huge parcel that we really need to unwrap it, said Hon. Joseph Watawi.

The team is working on setting a date and minimum age that will be able to vote in the referendum. They are putting their blood, sweat and tears in attempting to resolve the questions that remainin.

“Referendum is not a stand-alone thing, we need to unify with each other,” Ms. Marceline Kokiai said.

The big question on the students’ minds was ‘what if we don’t get a referendum?’ and the same question was also raised by the students at University of Papua New Guinea when the team visited  the previous week. The committee said that are working on the practical questions at this stage. Many such questions are good because they encourages a lot and can be used as guide lines while working towards the ultimate goal.

There is a need to raise awareness of the realities of the Bougainville crisis, the peace agreement and the upcoming referendum. The nature of the referendum must be clear to the people so that they will be in a better position to make their decision when the time comes.

As far as the awareness is concerned, the tertiary students must be involved in assiting deep into their various families and communities. It is now our time to educate the ones in rural areas about the referendum, autonomy, independence and weapons disposal. The referendum team was satisfied and students were encouraged to help disseminate information.

“We the students have learned a lot, even though this is on short notice to many of us,” Mr. Epota said.

“We are the future leaders of Bougainville and we must be aware of our current statues.”

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Panguna to be weapons-free zone as President pushes for unity

By Anthony Kaybing

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ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis has singled out unity as the key to the successful holding of a referendum on independence.

President Momis said that for Bougainville to progress towards to self-determination and eventual independence, should it choose that road, it must move to uniting all Bougainvilleans.

“My department is planning a region-wide patrol for this Government to visit all districts to sit and discuss government policies and programs, but more importantly to hear what our communities are saying,” the President said.

“Sometimes our communities cry foul on us merely because we have not given them the opportunity to be heard and to participate.

“We need to take heed of the adage ‘divided we fall, united we stand’,” President Momis cautioned.

645-parliament-sittingThe President said the greatest threat to a progressive and vibrant Bougainville is for the people of Bougainville to remain polarized between different groupings such as Mekamui, Kingdom of Papala, Ex-Combatants and more.

“My appeal is for the people of Bougainville to come under the legally constituted entity – ABG,” the President said.

A positive way forward has been the pledge by Mekamui Government leaders from Panguna who have taken the initiative to start the realignment process with the ABG.

The event held in Panguna on 24 September 2015 saw a declaration by Meekamui strongman Moses Pipiro that Panguna will be a weapons-free zone, in which all weapons will be collected and locked away.

“I would like to congratulate the leaders from Panguna and Mekamui, Philip Miriori and Deputy Philip Takaung for taking the creative initiative for them to join the ABG and the rest of Bougainville in preparing our people for the referendum,” President Momis said.

President Momis also extended his congratulations to the Vice President and Minister Patrick Nisira and his Departmental Secretary Mr James Tanis of the Department of Peace Building and Referendum for working with the Mekamui to make this happen.

The President made a further call on other factions of the Mekamui, the Konnou Group and U-Vistract Group to take the same decision and join the ABG.

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Torokina can fulfil tourism potential after weapons disposal

By Timothy Poroda

Torokina is located on the weste coast of the main island of Bougainville and has great tourism potential due to its great beauty and historical value.

Many World War II relics remain in the area, which had previously been a base for the American forces. As a result a number of WWII weapons and munitions were left behind when the war ended.

In 2014 a joint programme was conducted which engaged Australian Defence Force personnel who were deployed on the island to conduct an operation of dismantling live munitions in the area, addressing an issue of safety for the local people and weapons disposal under the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

As many people in the region rely on farming for their survival, the threat of live WWII munitions hindered their day-to-day livelihoods in Torokina.

Following on from the programme conducted last year, the people of Torokina are looking forwards and are keen to establish a museum for the WWII relics to safely store and display artefacts.

This will help the community be safety-conscious and also, with the potential of bringing more tourists to the area, it could one day help locals venture into small scale business and eventually help boost the economy of the region.

Torokina, though one of the most remote areas of the autonomous region, is one of the Bougainville’s icons in terms of tourism industry.

The geographical location it provides what tourists are expecting to venture into.  The area can be reached by a three to four hour boat ride from Buka and is also accessible by the famous Numanuma track.

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Australia’s development contribution on the rise

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Koromira Primary School.

Bougainville has received increased funding support from Australia over the past five years according to a recent report from the Australian High Commission.

The report, Highlights of Australia’s development assistance to the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, states that Australian assistance in 2013-14 reached nearly K100 million, having increased each year since 2009.

The funding provided to the autonomous region went towards the key areas of health, law & justice, governance and transport infrastructure.

Among the improvements in healthcare were new clinics, which were built in Buka, Arawa and Buin, and the provision of medical kits across the region. These medical kits contain essential supplies and were provided to 32 health centres, 162 aid posts and the Buka General Hospital.

Australia has committed to help Bougainville’s education system by reducing class sizes and improving the learning environment. Between 2012 and 2014, twenty primary schools benefited from the construction of a double classroom, teacher’s house, office and an ablution block.

These schools were located at Lemanmanu, Hahela, Ubuko, Kunua, Sohano, Iaun, Tekoknih, Koromira, Sipatako, Peter Lahis (Arawa urban), Tupukas, Wakunai, Asitavi, Kongara, Tabago, Iruh, Ugubakogu, Laguai and Tonu.

Law and justice is vital in Bougainville as a post-crisis region and Australian assistance has seen the construction and refurbishment of a number of police stations, court houses and centres for justice around the region.

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President says peace agreement conditions can be met before 2020

By Anthony Kaybing

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The President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has said tha the conditions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) can and will be met by Bougainville within the next five years as a prelude to its referendum.

Autonomous Bougainville Government President, Grand Chief Dr John Momis, made the statement in reference to Bougainville’s referendum on independence and autonomy, which must be held between 2015 and 2020 as set out in the BPA.

The conditions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement are good governance, fiscal self-reliance and weapons disposal.

“We must not fear, we must have faith in each other and ultimately, of course, we must have faith in God to give us the wisdom and strength to prevail,” President Momis said.

“We have now reached a critical juncture on our journey to freedom, where we stand at the threshold of a new socio-economic, political and spiritual order.”

He added that this new future means Bougainvilleans will want to be liberated from structural impediments, from institutional impediments and become agents of change and development.

“We know for a fact for example that the people of Bougainville for a long time have always seen themselves as a people set apart from the rest of PNG,” the President continued.

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Students investigate regional issues for university research

By Leonard Fong Roka

393-dwu-students From left to right: Leonard Fong Roka, Douglas Deseng, Daphney Toke and Ancitha Semoso.

Four Bougainvillean students were amongst the 23 Papua New Guinea students who presented their 2014 major research projects in the PNG Studies & International Relations (PGIR) department of Divine Word University in Madang.

The research began in early June 2014 as a unit course within the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

We were supervised by lecturers Dr. Anastasia Sai and Glenda Baptiste of PGIR department over the duration of the research since June till October.

The four students were Daphney Toke from Buin District, Ancitha Semoso from Buka, Douglas Deseng from Tinputz District and myself from Panguna District.

My research, Irrelevance and Alternatives to the Third Pillar of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, attempted to find out if the terms and conditions associated with the weapons disposal program of Bougainville were relevant to the community in Arawa town’s Zone 3.

The research showed that 23 respondents did not see weapons as a threat to them; and it was also not relevant to the long years of struggle the Bougainville people had gone through since the colonial era.

It recommended that the weapons disposal program be re-designed to be more pro-Bougainville and beneficial to ex-combatants and Bougainville history.

Daphney Toke had a research project, Policing in Buin, South Bougainville: An Analysis of the Effectiveness of Buin Police after the Bougainville Crisis, which aimed to see how much the Bougainville police were doing to protect Bougainvilleans in the post-crisis era. It showed that the police on Bougainville are community peace oriented and not a force to enforce law.

The report stated that the police are understaffed and under-resourced for the Buin environment. All police personnel are locals and therefore attempt to avoid conflict with their own people who break the law.

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International delegation visits weapons disposal operation

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A high-level delegation of politicians and diplomats have seen first-hand how Operation Render Safe is improving the safety of local communities in Torokina by removing unexploded ordnance from World War II.

Led by Autonomous Bougainville Government President Dr John Momis, the delegation was greeted by the community at Torokina Primary School and received a full mission briefing on board the Royal Australian Navy ship the HMAS Choules.

The delegation included Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, Ms Deborah Stokes; Australian Defence Force Chief of Joint Operations, Vice Admiral David Johnston; and PNG Minister for Bougainville Affairs and Member for South Bougainville, Mr Steven Pirika Kamma.

Operation Render Safe comprises a multi-national team of explosive ordnance disposal experts who arrived in Torokina on Wednesday 22 October at the invitation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and approval of the PNG Government to remove the explosive remnants of war. Experts from Australia, the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and the Solomon Islands are working alongside the Bougainville Police Force during the operation.

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Planning for Operation Render Safe begins tomorrow

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A planning team for Operation Render Safe will visit Buka and Torokina in Bougainville from 29 May to 7 June to continue preparations for Operation Render Safe, which is scheduled to occur in Torokina in October 2014.

Operation Render Safe is occurring as a result of the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s (ABG)’s request to Australia to assist with the removal of unexploded World War Two ordnance, small arms and ammunition  remaining in Torokina.

Head of Australian Defence Staff, Colonel Dick Parker, explained the benefits of Operation Render Safe.

“Torokina was used as a military base in World War Two, and there are still many unexploded bombs, small arms and ammunition remaining in the area,” Colonel Parker said.

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