Posts Categorized: Peace & reconciliation

Bougainville united in celebration of Peace Agreement

By Ishmael Palipal

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The people of Bougainville people celebrated a major milestone on 30 August 2016 with the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA).

The 2001 BPA signing signified peace, reconciliation and unity for all Bougainvilleans and was an emotional moment that people longed to witness after more than ten years of bloodshed.

During this 2001 signing, the Bougainville people, the Bougainville government and Papua New Guinea Government agreed on terms and conditions they would follow in order to achieve lasting peace, development and, eventually, referendum.

The agreement is centered around autonomy, referendum and weapons disposal, the three pillars that Bougainville should achieve when working in co-operation with the parties concerned.

Yesterday’s ceremony emphasized the importance of BPA and the President Dr John Momis and other speakers strongly emphasized that all parties must work in accordance with the BPA and should not breach it.

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There was a consensus that the BPA is a joint effort between Bougainville and PNG and all must uphold their duties and obligations towards achieving the objectives—lasting peace and unity, development and referendum.

Mrs Ruby Mirinka, a signatory to the BPA as a representative of the women and children of Bougainville, pointed out that peace an opportunity to grow and develop. Given this opportunity there are other fights such as those against things that are undermining the growth of this region such as the effects of drugs and alcohol on communities and an economic crisis.

Mrs Mirinka elaborated that should carefully utilise the resources they have so that in the coming years there will be something concrete to celebrate.

Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Ishmael Toroama spoke on behalf of the ex-combatants and reminded the people that God is the framer of the peace in Bougainville and all Bougainvilleans must embrace every opportunity.

He assured the people that ex-combatants are in full support of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) towards the referendum.

Philip Miroiri, who represented the Mekamui, shared similar sentiments and spoke of standing united with ABG ahead of the referendum.

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Like others who strongly stressed the importance of peace in Bougainville, UN Resident Coordinator Mr Roy Trivedy outlined a strong link between peace and development.

“When there is no peace,” Mr Trivedy stated, “there will be no development.

“When there is no development there will be no lasting peace.”

He concluded that only through peace will Bougainville flourish and it is the responsibility of all the concerned parties to ensure this is achieved.

The ABG President Chief Dr John Momis closed the day with his keynote speech addressing the importance of the Peace Agreement and encouraged all parties to respect it.

He strongly challenged the National Government to honour the BPA and to support by assisting Bougainville as agreed.

Mr Momis assured the people of Bougainville that Bougainville will still arrive in her final destination through this referendum.

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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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Former Konnou fighters apologise to President for road block incident

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

A reconciliation was held last week as an apology to President John Momis by some former combatants from Konnou, for an incident that occurred at the beginning of 2016.

The incident started from Buin town when Jerry Iroa of Oria village, Konnou Constituency, had a conflict with several people of Ibirai village near Buin.

Jerry, a local business man who owns a store in Buin and a service station near the junction of the Buin main market, was threatened as a result of a serious conflict with several others from Ibirai

In reaction some people from Oria imposed a road block at the junction of Oria road. The blockade was serious and several highway cars were turned back by the former WILMO fighters of the Konnou Crisis, as they attempted to force a reconciliation with Mr Iroa.

Dr John Momis at the same time was traveling to Buka while these people were conducting the road block and was a victim of the same treatment. They mistakenly turned the vehicle with the president back to Buin town.

After several hours they were informed that they just turned the President back to Buin. By the time it was too late for them to apologise and let him to continue his journey.

The Member for Konnou, Hon. Willie Masiu, helped the people of Oria and arranged a time for a reconciliation to take place.

Masiu arranged vehicles that brought the representatives of Oria including the chiefs to Morou, the small village of Dr Momis, near Turiboiru Catholic Parish.

The people of Oria, along with their member, presented a pig as a show of respect and apologised for the incident.

Chief Konkai stated that the pig shows an apology in a customary manner. He reiterated that the act must not be repeated in the future.

In addition to the President, Hon. Willie Masiu and Chief Konkai, the reconciliation was also attended by Jacob Toke and other constituency members of Bouganiville.

 

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Program takes a step on the peace building journey

By Eleanor Maineke

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu

 The BPBP Office is located at the Arevai Green House Building in Arawa, Central Bougainville.
The BPBP Office is located at the Arevai Green House Building in Arawa, Central Bougainville.

After the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) the process of reuniting divided families continued. It is the duty of each and every Bougainvillean to help each other and many groups, organisations and agencies are working to achieve unity in Bougainville.

Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP), which currently operates from its office in Arawa, is one such home-grown program that is helping to address the outstanding cases of the Bougainville Crisis.

The program was initiated by the Meekamui to unite the Meekamui factions and was endorsed by the Autonomous Bougainville Government at the BEC meeting in 2011.

The BPBP is funded by the Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) under the Strongim Pipol Strongim Nesen (SPSN) program.

The program indicates the partnership and relationship between the people of Bougainville who desire to settle the crisis-related issues which stoke the fires of hatred and maintain divisions between conflicting parties.

The program initially started as Panguna Peace Building Strategy of which, as the name suggests, the main aim was to settle the issues in the Panguna area, the epicentre of the Bougainville Crisis.

The call from other districts was so strong, the program proving so effective, that it was extended to all the districts via the establishment of the district peace & security committees. The establishment of District Peace and Security Committees (DPSC) was also endorsed by the ABG’s BEC Meeting in 2014.

With the establishment of the 12 DPSC’s for the 12 districts of Buin, Siwai, Bana, Torokina, Panguna, Kieta, Wakunai, Tinputz, Kunua, Selau/Suir, Buka and the Atolls; the coordination load increased at the level of the BPBP staff.

The Siwai DPSC signed the MOU when the program was still known as the Panguna Peace Building Strategy.
The Siwai DPSC signed the MOU when the program was still known as the Panguna Peace Building Strategy.

The need for additional staff was seen and the program created a number of positions. With the help of SPSN, it advertised those positions in the print media (Post-Courier) in 2015. The recruitment process to this date resulted in a full BPBP team of 15 staff on salary, plus other community development workers who are engaged on casual basis.

The recruitment of the new staff members dawned another step for Bougainville. The human resources at hand helped deliver activities more effectively and efficiently. This is critical, as the region is fast approaching the set date for the vote for Bougainville’s Referendum and the international community is closely monitoring the level governance of the island in all its programs and activities.

On the 2 April 2016, the Bougainville Peace Building Program Governing Council Committee hosted its first meeting for the year. The Acting Chief Secretary of the Bougainville Administration, Mr. Paul Kebori, is the chairman of the committee, while the Meekamui Representative, Mr. Blaise Iruinu, is the Deputy Chairman of the committee.

The committee’s composition shows the importance of the program to the people of Bougainville. That the three regional members for the ex-combatants in the ABG parliament, the LLG Minister, the Bougainville Women’s Federation president and the president of the Bougainville Youth Foundation plus the other nine members.

Some of the BPBP Governing Council members during the Council meeting on 2nd April 2016
Some of the BPBP Governing Council members during the Council meeting on 2nd April 2016

The chairman of the committee alluded that BPBP is a very important program and will heavily contribute to the measurement of the level of good governance per the reconciliation ceremonies and settling of crisis-related conflicts.

At the same time, the council was informed of the changing of the managing contractor under which BPBP gets financial support from the Australian government.

An encouraging words were given to the BPBP management and staff to continue to face each day’s challenges as stepping stones and help the people to restore what has been destroyed during the bloody civil war and beyond.

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The power of women as reconciliation leaders

By Eleanor Maineke

The women led the traditional ritual of chewing betelnut during the reconciliation The women led the traditional ritual of chewing betelnut during the reconciliation

The Bougainville crisis divided families and clans in our communities. It is a war that destroyed the social structure that existed from pre-historic times and was upheld by our forefathers.

In the Manetai area of Central Bougainville, a crisis-related reconciliation was staged on the 13th of April, to rebuild this fabric.

The reconciliation was made possible with the will of two courageous women from the perpetrator’s immediate family. These two women had the courage to approach the victims’ families to open up for the reconciliation to take place with their own willing hearts.

“The scripture says that there is time for everything,” said Grace during the reconciliation ceremony, a sister of the deceased.

“I admired the process of this reconciliation because the leading key people are two women from the perpetrator’s end.”

Grace was also a victim of the crisis, who was apprehended by the same people who took her brother and killed him.

It was late December of 1994 and at that time the Manetai Catholic Mission served as a care-centre to the people of Manetai area.

On that particular day, the Bougainville Revolutionary Army set up an ambush beyond the fringes of the care-centre. Without any knowledge of the danger ahead, two boys, Lazarus Kerepas (23) and Herman Siroke (13), went to take a bath at the river during the day.

Unfortunately, they were trapped in an ambush and were captured by the BRA fighters and taken away. A few hours later, some people from the care-centre informed the family members that the two were taken away.

With that, Lazarus’s mother, sister and niece (Herman’s sister) followed them and were also captured by the BRA members. When they asked about Lazarus and Herman they were told that the boys were taken up to Panguna. They kept the three women at Atamo care centre and were released the following day believing that Lazarus and Herman were taken up to Panguna. From that day, the family were looking for them because they were not satisfied with the answer given.

Sadly, in 1995, news reached them that the two men’s bodies were rotting away not so far from Manetai. They had been killed that same day ten months before at Atamo Junction. The family went and collected deceased boys’ bones and gave them a proper burial. The state of the remains were scattered meaning that animals had probably fed on them.

It is human not to find the space of forgiveness, especially having lost a loved one in such a manner, but there is always the right time that forgiveness calls out so that we own the issues and we unite for better future. True peace comes from one’s heart and in its own time.

It is important for perpetrators to own up, come forward and reconcile with the victims. It is now time for reconciliations to continue. Through self-giving and owning up without fear, everyone will be free. The souls and spirits of the deceased will also be given freedom with the reconciliations.

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The reconciliation was initiated and mediated by the people themselves led by the women. No financial support was given from any NGO’s or governmental agencies. Only logistic support was provided by the ABG Member for Eivo/Torau Constituency, Hon. Clarence Dency, and the ABG ex-combatant member for Central Bougainville, Hon. Noah Doko.

This shows that the financial dependency load can be lessened with the willingness of the conflicting parties to reconcile. It was a good example to other Bougainvilleans to take up the responsibility of settling these issues.

Each society in Bougainville has its own tradition and values its culture. The reconciliation was inculturated with Christianity. The testament of inculturation was seen in the prayerful reconciliations and the ritual cleansing of the parents of the deceased.

The stages of the reconciliation were the exchange of mustard, betelnut and chewing of the betelnut; the exchange and eating of Tamatama (a traditional dish); the shaking of hands; The cleansing ceremony (washing and oiling with sacred herbal leaves); and the presentation of gifts to the victims as a sign of peace

“You cannot solve a problem with a problem.” The onus is on every Bougainvillean. We must work together and willingly own up and help each other. The next phase is for the other conflicts and persons connected to the case to own up and reconcile with the victim’s families.

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South Nasioi Council of Elders closes in on resolution to Domakung/Wida conflict

By Gideon Davika

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In recent times the Domakung/Wida in South Nasioi has gone through terrible violence related to sorcery and land which involved killings and burning of houses and a process is underway to restore peace and normality to the area.

743-south-nasioi-peaceThe crimes, which occurred within a short period of time, stunned the South Nasioi Council of Elders, Domakung/Wida chiefs and ex-combatants in Kieta district.

The South Nasioi Council of Elders (COE) stepped in immediately and held a meeting at Roroeinang United Church mission.

This was followed by declaration of ceasefire on the 17th of December last year and, on that same day, a fourteen person high powered committee comprised of representatives from the seven main clans in the area was set up to negotiate peace and eventually agreed to the disposal of weapons in the area.

Ex-combatants within Kieta district was also present at the meeting. Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army General, Sam Kauona said at the meeting that they have worked hard and took many years to build peace on Bougainville and it could take one day to destroy it. He also said that they must be cautious in how they behave in the community, because these few remaining years are very crucial as Bougainville strives to get its referendum.

Peter Karatapi, the chairman of the committee, said that they based their peace building strategy on traditional peace building concepts since the problem occurred in the rural area and some of the victims were also illiterate and cannot understand the laws of the government.

743-domakung-widaThe peace process was started with Karebake, which means ceasefire and agreement, and it was agreed by members and representatives of the two warring parties on the 17th December last year. It was done in a traditional way and two bows and arrows were exchanged and women spoke on behalf of the parties agreeing on the peace and security for all the warring parties and the community as well.

Then it was followed by Mera Tapong, the laying down of arms, on the 20th of January this year at Roreinang United Church Mission. On this stage, the two opposing parties agreed and surrendered their arms to the chiefs.

The guns will remain in the hands of the chiefs until May 2016 when resolution will be passed on final fate of the weapons.

After that they identified the root causes of the problems, in traditional terms known as Miong. A dispute over land was considered as the root of the problems which led to the sorcery killings.

There are about six stages that the committee are yet to go through. The last stage in the process is Napo Kani Kani; rebuilding, reconciliation and rehabilitation.

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The committee are working very hard to resolve the issue and restore normality to life and also to ensure the safety of the Domakung/Wida community.

The member of South Nasioi Constituency, Simon Dasiona MP, also continues to support the committee financially as they progress with this process.

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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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War and peace: Struggles for development in Koromira

The warrior dance is a part of Koromira culture; traditionally performed for visiting chiefs or tribes.

Research conducted by Ishmael Palipal at the Divine Word University in Madang has revealed that ongoing disruptions to peace have hindered development in Koromira.

The paper, Factors contributing to the lack of community development in Koromira area, Central Bougainville, examines the factors affecting development in the village assembly located within Kododa constituency and Palipal interviewed 40 local people for his research.

Many local people have said conflicts, often driven by jealously, are holding back the community.

“Something is wrong with our mentality,” one local farmer said, “jealousy is the fuelling factor behind so much arguments on land other new things such as agriculture projects.”

“I have been working on my poultry project and recently some people cut and stole 5 of my chickens ready to be sold.”

A lack of adequate resolution for past conflicts, including actions during the Bougainville crisis, is also a constant disruption to harmonious relations in the community.

“We cannot do new things because some of our young people, who are dead now, have caused some problems in the past to other villages,” one community elder said.

“We are still working to repay them before we can establish things for ourselves, otherwise we will just waste our developments to their hands.”

“We have to lay low until reconciliation is done with them.”

Palipal’s research indicates that Koromira cannot move forward unless the past is left behind through reconciliation and the lasting peace it brings.

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A leader of peace – Pastor Movo passes away

By Ishmael Palipal

Pastor Steven speaking at the funeral in Kaabaku.

Pastor Steven speaking at the funeral in Kaabaku.

On Sunday 29th November, the late Pastor Uzzaiah Movo, a significant Bougainvillean leader was laid to rest in Arawa, Central Bougainville.

As a church leader before and after the Bougainville war, he was a role model and important figure in the development of Bougainville. He was part of the Bougainville peace building and government process in the region.

According to Pastor Francis Munau, it was Pastor Movo who dedicated the constitution as a Christian region into God’s hands during the dedication of the Bougainville Constitution.

Late Pastor Movo was also a council member in the Arawa Urban Council committee. He had many good influences in many people’s live in Bougainville and Papua New Guinea as a church leader and a community leader.

As stated by Pastor Steven Manganai, during his funeral service Sunday in Arawa, death is natural as birth and God has already pre-destined us in his eternal plan.

Pastor Mangani continued to say that the body is created by God to carry the spirit of life and when his purpose is done on earth, God takes back his spirit out of the body.

After the service, the body of this Bougainville prominent leader was laid to rest at a cemetery in Kaabaku area, some distance up from Arawa town in Central Bougainville.

I wish to extend my personal condolences to the departing leader’s immediate family in Arawa.

May his wonderful soul rest in eternal peace.

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Irimakoto ceremony mends wounds of the Siwai Crisis

By Eleanor Maineke

685-siwai-bra-resistance The former BRA’s from the Motuna/Huyono/Tokunutui areas shaking hands with the formers resistance from the Kopi and Ramu Constituency. The women were also present to witness the ritual reconciliation

The Siwai Crisis was one of the major local civil wars during the 10 year Bougainville conflict and it saw the fall of some prominent Siwai leaders. It is an important chapter of the overall history Bougainville.

Siwai leaders were a key stakeholder in the politicisation of the mine conflict into the broader Bougainville crisis and the subsequent mobilization of the rest of Bougainville into the guerrilla war.

The civil war in Siwai war spilled over into Nagovisi, Buin, Torokina, Manetai, Kieta and the Solomon Islands. It also deepened the Bougainville Crisis, especially in Central and South Bougainville. The effects of the Siwai crisis and its impact on the Bougainville crisis as a whole is still being felt today.

Mihmihyetu - Traditional warrior peace dance of admittance & acceptance Mihmihyetu – Traditional warrior peace dance of admittance & acceptance

The people of Siwai have worked tirelessly to end the long standing division within the district which was caused by the conflict and separated clans and families.

The establishment of the Siwai District Peace & Security Committee (DPSC) on the 17th of September last year (2014) helped the leaders in the district continue the work of mediation and reconciliation. The Siwai DPSC, which is chaired by the Executive Manager Mr. Martin Tumuki, is financed by the Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP), formerly known as the Panguna Peace Building Program (PPBS).

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The Siwai customary mediation process basically comprises of five sequential steps, which would be followed by all conflicting parties (victims and offenders) under the facilitation of a neutral mediation team.

On the 21st of November 2015 the Ceremonial gathering of Irimakoto eventuated at the Rabaulu Primary School grounds. The ceremony saw the former Bougainville Revolutionary Army soldiers and the former Resistance fighters come together in preparation for consultation with the Central Region Command.

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More than 200 men, women and children witnessed the ceremony. Irimakoto is a form of trust building where the conflicting parties will work together towards the Traut session or the Singsingketu ceremony, where there is the highest form of debating and analysing to reach the common goal of the people of Bougainville.

685-siwai-conflict-reconciliationPresent at the ceremony was the ABG’s Finance Minister and Member for Motuna/Huyono/Tokunutui Constituency, Honourable Albert Punghau. BPBP’s Acting Program Manager, Mr.Steven Sonnei was also present and he gave a very inspirational speech as an advocate of peace and a peacebuilder.

A call for unity was made to the people of Siwai.

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