Masiu declared member-elect for South Bougainville

By Winterford Toreas


The people of South Bougainville now have a new member in the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea following the declaration of People’s Progress Party candidate, Mr Timothy Masiu, as member-elect on Monday, 4 July 2016.

He was declared winner by the Returning Officer of the South Bougainville by-election, John Itanu, in Buin yesterday afternoon, beating eleven other candidates.

Mr Masiu had polled 8,337 votes, ahead of second place candidate Dr Joe Kim Suwamaru of the United Resource Party, received 6,121 votes.

Former Director for Peace in the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Nick Peniai, who was endorsed by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s People’s National Congress Party came third in the election.

The South Bougainville Open seat had become vacant following the death of former member and Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Constitutional Matters, the late Steven Pirika Kamma, in February this year.

Mr Masiu and Dr Suwamaru had been leading the race since counting began on Friday evening till the end of the preliminary count, however Masiu began to strengthen the margin when counting proceeded into the elimination stages.

Masiu was able to maintain his lead till the 10th and final exclusive process which saw him collecting more votes after the elimination of Mr Peniai, thus surpassing the absolute majority of 7229 votes.

Mr Masiu is not new to politics and prior to contesting the by-election he had been serving as the Executive Officer for the Deputy Prime Minister and East New Britain Regional MP, Sir Leo Dion.

He first contested the South Bougainville Open seat in the 2012 National Elections and came runner-up to former member, the late Steven Pirika Kamma.

Mr Masiu is a respected senior radio journalist in the country.

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Healthy communities concept spreads to Atolls

By John Kemaroy

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The Bougainville Healthy Communities Programme is branching out into the Nissan & Atolls districts of Bougainville.

Having operating on the main Islands of Bougainville for nearly a decade, the ABG public health programme is making its way out into the atolls of the region.

Plans are already in place to work with communities in Nissan district to advocate more on communicable diseases, such as Tuberculosis (TB), Malaria & Leprosy, and also current topics in non-communicable diseases, like Lifestyle diseases and more.

With reports of Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) TB on the island district, it is timely that the health programme is making its way here to help local health facilities advocate more on the fight against the deadly disease. Nissan Island is one of the remaining districts in Bougainville, along with the Mortlock, Nuguria, Fead atolls, that the programme is yet to conduct its community health training programmes in.

 

Based on the Papua New Guinea Healthy Island vision, the Bougainville ‘Healthy Island’ concept has been contextualized to include village governance with primary health care topics in the hope of equipping communities with basic health management knowledge that can improve community welfare, especially relevant in the post-conflict setting of Bougainville.

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With funding and management support from the people of New Zealand, the project humbly kicked off in 2006 to which today the concept has continued to reach over 700+communities and training over 1000+ community health resource personals or village health volunteers (VHV).

The Programme has slowly taken its operations into the ABG Health Department and working on finalizing the whole concept under the autonomous regions’ Department of Health structure. Already 9 of the 33 project staff are been paid under the Department.

The most notable of the programmes achievements is the increase knowledge on health issues, as evident in the referrals system of TB and Leprosy in recent times.

The continued advocacy on village cleanliness and hygiene seeing is village transformation into beautified communities. BHCP village communities have been influentially practicing village cleanliness and sanitary practices as well as promoting good governance.

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Uni students preserve Bougainville culture

By Anastasia Hagai

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Bougainvillean women from all four regions perform a dance to the beat of the bamboo band at Divine Word University, Madang

Regardless of ethnicity and of the distance from home, Bougainvillean students at the Divine Word University in Madang unite in organised activities such as the recent Blaqueville Nite which was held on Saturday, 14 May 2016.

Blaqueville Nite is the annual fundraiser for the Christmas awareness that is carried out by groups of students from higher institutions within the Bougainville Youth Foundation – Madang chapter.

The students promoted their culture through performances ranging from boys and girls Solomons dance, bamboo band and kaur.

Face painting along with the sale of traditional dishes will also be on display during the upcoming Divine Word University Cultural show that will be held at the main campus here in Madang on the 20th of August and PNG week in September, which is an initiative by the student representative council to correspond with Independence celebrations that will be carried out throughout the country.

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Bougainvillean students during such activities embrace their culture with the colourful grass-shirts which are normally made from wild banana bark that is cut and beaten with a wooden stick and scraped. It is later left out in the sun to dry and, depending on the heat of the sun, it may take one to two weeks. After the drying process it is gathered and woven.

Due to changes in the modern societies the colour of the grass shirts has changes from a plane white to assorted colours and is normally done by women from the starting stage to the finishing touches.

The elegant attires come to life during traditional dances which represent the ideas and experiences of Bougainvilleans.

The hand signals and movements demonstrate what is been sung in the songs so that it is more meaningful and easy for people to understand the morals and traditions that influences life away from home and back in Bougainville.

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Rio walking away from environmental responsibility – Momis

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The President of Bougainville, Chief John Momis, has expressed deep anger at Rio Tinto’s refusal to accept responsibility for the environmental and other damage done by the Panguna mine and has insisted that Rio accept responsibility for mining legacy issues.

“When I met [Rio Tinto] officials… in Port Moresby, they flatly rejected any responsibility for their contribution to the damage done by the Panguna Mine,” President Momis said

“Rio’s officials gave me two reasons for not accepting responsibility for mine impacts: first, Rio operated under the PNG law of the day; second, they were forced out of Panguna by the conflict.

“The truth is Rio Tinto generated huge revenues from what we all now know was the terrible injustice of its Bougainville mining operations. The mine shut down in 1989 only because anger over that injustice generated demands for a renegotiated agreement.

“It’s now clear the BCA was deeply unjust. It ignored environmental damage and social impacts. Only a tiny share of mine revenue was distributed to landowners and to the North Solomons Provincial Government,” President Momis continued.

“The gross injustice of the BCA has since been recognised by Rio. As a result it made major changes to its own policies, especially in relation to landowners. It accepted new standards of sustainable development as a founder of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM).

“Rio is now deeply hypocritical in its blatant disregard of the higher corporate responsibility standards it says it has adopted.

“It now seems Rio has no commitment to social responsibility or sustainable development principles. It talks those principles only when that helps its profits. But it throws them out when costs to its bottom line could be involved.

“Now Rio Tinto proposes to walk away from responsibility for the effects of the injustice of its highly profitable operations.

“Rio cannot rely on grossly unjust past laws to escape its contemporary responsibilities for what we now know was wrong. Corporate social responsibility means responsible companies accept that their responsibilities go beyond the legal requirements of the day.

“I am writing to the Managing Director of Rio Tinto asking him to reconsider not only the Rio decision about its shares, but also its refusal to deal with its Panguna legacy responsibilities.

“I am also writing to the International Council of Metals and Mining asking them to end Rio Tinto’s membership because of its failure to honour the ICMM’s 10 Principles for Sustainable Development Performance.

“Finally, I am seeking the earliest possible meeting with Prime Minister O’Neill to discuss how best to defuse the dangerous situation created by Rio’s decision on its shares in BCL.”

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President angered by Rio Tinto departure

Bougainville President, John Momis, today expressed anger at Rio Tinto’s decision to transfer its 53.8 per cent share in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL). International mining giant, Rio earlier announced transfer if its BCL shares to an independent trustee, for distribution to the ABG (36.4 per cent), and the PNG Government (17.4 per cent).

PNG is already 2nd largest BCL shareholder. So the share distribution would see the governments equal BCL shareholders – 36.4 per cent each. The remaining 27 per cent of shares are held by small shareholders.

Rio Tinto has been reviewing its BCL shareholding for almost two years. The review resulted in Rio deciding to end its investment in BCL, which ran the giant copper and gold mine at Panguna from 1972 to 1989, under the 1967 Bougainville Copper Agreement (BCA).

“Rio Tinto has made a unilateral decision,” President Momis said, “it failed to consult the Bougainville Government about distributing its shares.”

“At meetings with senior Rio officials, in July 2015 and February 2016, I warned strongly against transfer of Rio’s shares to PNG. It Bougainvilleans cannot accept National Government control over the future of Panguna through either majority or equal shareholding in BCL.

“We are open to PNG remaining a BCL shareholder. That may assist us find responsible partners and financiers for possible future operations at Panguna. But we cannot accept Rio Tinto’s interference in seeking to give PNG equal control over Panguna. There is no possibility of progress on resolving the future of Panguna on that basis.”

“Rio Tinto has shown arrogance and ignorance in ignoring my warning. Sitting in their comfortable London offices, they have interfered in Bougainville’s affairs by deciding PNG should have equal control of BCL.

“Bougainvilleans are united in rejecting what Rio Tinto seeks to thrust upon us.”

 

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Rio Tinto transfers BCL shares to independent trustee

Rio Tinto has today transferred its 53.8 per cent shareholding in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to an independent trustee.

Equity Trustees Limited will manage the distribution of these shares between the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) for the benefit of all the Panguna landowners and the people of Bougainville, and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Under the trust deed, the ABG has the opportunity to receive 68 per cent of Rio Tinto’s shareholding (which equates to 36.4 per cent of BCL’s shares) from the independent trustee for no consideration and PNG is entitled to the remaining 32 per cent (which equates to 17.4 per cent of BCL’s shares).

The ABG and PNG will both hold an equal share in BCL of 36.4 per cent if the transfers are completed. This ensures both parties are equally involved in any consideration and decision-making around the future of the Panguna mine.

The Trust Deed determines that should either beneficiary of the trust not apply for the transfer of the BCL shares attributable to them from the trustee within two months, then those shares will be made available to the other party.

Rio Tinto Copper & Coal chief executive Chris Salisbury said “Our review looked at a broad range of options and by distributing our shares in this way we aim to provide landowners, those closest to the mine, and all the people of Bougainville a greater say in the future of Panguna. The ultimate distribution of our shares also provides a platform for the ABG and PNG Government to work together on future options for the resource.”

In accordance with the existing management agreement with BCL, Rio Tinto will today give the required six months’ notice to terminate the arrangement. Although Rio Tinto will no longer hold any interest in BCL, Rio Tinto will continue to meet its obligations under the agreement during that period to ensure an orderly transition in the shareholdings of the company. BCL chairman Peter Taylor will resign with immediate effect but he will continue to be available to provide services to the board during this transition period.

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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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Effects of moratorium on small-scale mining must be considered – Momis

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The President of Bougainville, Chief John Momis, has stated that the ABG ensure the existing small-scale mining industry is protected if a decision is made to lift the moratorium on mining exploration.

The BEC will not make a decision on the moratorium until the Bougainville Mining Department has fully implemented the Bougainville Mining Act provisions on small scale-mining, which includes the reserving areas for small scale mining.

“[Small-scale mining] is an industry where benefits spread to the people in villages and hamlets,” President Momis said.

“Their interests cannot be thrown away in favour of new large-scale mining interests with exploration licences; if we do not recognise small-scale miners, there will be dangers of unrest, and even conflict.”

The Mining Department has till October 2016 to set up the new arrangements for licensing small-scale mining.

If and when the moratorium is lifted, exploration licences are then likely to cover most areas where the ten thousand or more small-scale Bougainvillean miners now operate.

Once an exploration licence is granted over an area, a community mining reservation is possible only with permission from the exploration licence holder and it is believed that most are unlikely to consent.

The President also expressed concerns about the excessive development of small scale mines.

Though the ABG Mining Act restricts the number of simultaneous large-scale mining leases to maximum of two, there is no restriction on the number of small-scale mines.

“I am also requesting the Minister [Robin Wilson] to investigate and report to me, as a matter of urgency, on how to ensure that Bougainville is not threatened by many mines being established,” President Momis urged.

“It was fear of this led Bougainvilleans to request the moratorium in 1971. It remains a real danger.

“Once the Moratorium is lifted, if exploration licences are granted for all prospective areas, it will be difficult to limit the number of small mining leases,” President Momis continued.

“Lease holders and landowners will pressure for developments to go ahead, so they can get the money on offer from mining.

“Once exploration licences are granted, we could face huge pressures to approve small mines, wherever exploitable minerals are discovered; we could perhaps have 10 or 20 such mines at the same time. The social and environmental impacts could be massive. Most of the available mineral resources could be extracted rapidly, in one generation, and all mining revenue too.

The President has sought the advice of the Mining Minister on how to address this issue.

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Students at new vocational school undertake practical

By Benjamin Heriberth Noibio

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Jeremy Tania and Jeffery Pirontu after work at Kokopau.

Manetai Vocational School, one of the newest educational institutions in Bougainville, was started recently by Mr Roger, a vocational teacher who taught at Mabiri for some time.

Mr Roger is of mixed parentage, his mother is from Siwai, South Bougainville, and farther from Manetai, Central Bougainville. His father is a former Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldier who spent time at Igam barracks in Lae, Morobe Province.

After a stint teaching at Mabiri, Roger went to Metonai in Central Bougainville and started Tunuru Vocational School. After erecting all the buildings and registering the school, he left it for other teachers to run. Currently at Tunuru the number of students enrolling from throughout Bougainville is increasing each year. New teachers and a new administration is now running Tunuru, but Mr Roger maintains contact with the institution.

After everything was settled Roger moved to Manetai and started up another vocational located at Manetai catholic mission, which specialises in carpentry.

There were only few students at Manetai Vocational School when it launched, but the following year numbers increased 20 per cent, with students coming from all over the region.

The first intake at this vocational school were sent to Buka in March to do their first two weeks practical. The six students carried out maintenance on one of the rental houses at Kokopau Town.

“Mr Roger is very strict in school regulations and so our school runs smoothly,” said Jeremy Tania, a student leader.

Some students who became involved in binge drinking were expelled early this year.

“We have to strictly follow the school rules in order to learn effectively,” Tania continued, “we do not want to waste our money and our parents’ hard work.

“It is not easy to calculate the total costs of a house, drafting plans for buildings and calculating required materials for buildings.”

The six practical students came with supervisor Mr Daniel from Kunua. He is a staff member and was sent to supervise the students to complete their practical.

The school will graduate its first students at the end of 2017. They complete theory for two years and in the third year is entirely practical.

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Reconciliation before exploration say Panguna mine associations

 

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The nine associations representing landowners of the former Panguna mine have made a request to Bougainville President, Chief John Momis, that any lift of the moratorium on mining exploration be delayed until after a Bel Kol ceremony is held with Bougainville Copper Limited.

“[Bel Kol] has been requested by the landowners,” President Momis stated.

“They want to see this customary first step towards reconciliation about mining-related issues that caused conflict completed before there is any formal step towards resumption of large-scale mining in Bougainville.

“They are asking all Bougainvilleans and outside mining interests to respect their wishes in this regard.”

The President has stated that a decision on the moratorium may not be made until October and is dependent on the successful implementation regulatory arrangement for small scale mining.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government Mining Act limits the number of simultaneous large-scale mines to two.

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