BOUGAINVILLE REVOLUTIONARY ARMY

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BOUGAINVILLE REVOLUTIONARY ARMY

Tanoa International Hotel Conference Room Nadi, Fiji

Friday, March 24, 2000

BOUGAINVILLE REVOLUTIONARY ARMY (BRA) IMPATIENT WITH PAPUA NEW GUINEA

The Bougainville Revolutionary Army’s (BRA) patience is fast running out, with Papua New Guinea’s crippling inability and indecisiveness to understand a simple and a clear message from Bougainville, according to its International Representative Mr. Moses Havini.

"This message is clear and unambiguous. The people of Bougainville have been fighting now for five decades and more consistently in the last ten years for an independent homeland."

"Under international law, indigenous peoples’ rights and the United Nation’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights, not only is this right guaranteed under the provision, "the Right to Self-Determination, but also the right of the people to enjoy their own economic resources is also guaranteed. Bougainville is a very resource rich island country; most capable of becoming an independent and leading viable nation within the Pacific," said Mr. Havini from Nadi, Fiji.

"We are frustrated. This message has been heard many times. It was first brought to the attention of the United Nations Decolonization Committee in the 1960s by our grandparents and our leaders. Then under the occupying Australian colonial administration right up to the 1st September 1975, this message was also constantly voiced to Australia. For 25 years from independence in 1975, including the last ten years of war from 1989, Papua New Guinea also heard this message, loud and clear."

"Sadly, with PNG as a now ‘new Neo-colonizing Power,’ Bougainville must now come under the "colonized territory" category. And must be included in the List of Non-self Governing Territories and Peoples in the Pacific, that must be given its independence. Let’s open a new page in this new millennium."

"Colonization, oppression and suppression of peoples’ rights and freedoms must be seen as "bad habits" of the past, to be buried with the old millennium. Let’s bless this new millennium with a truly free and an independent Pacific and Peoples," said Mr. Havini.

"Bougainville and Papua New Guinea are still technically in a state of war. The BRA Force is now fully and better armed than ever, and has ten years of experience of fighting a successful guerrilla war against the Papua New Guinea Defense Force. They are ready to re-enter war with Papua New Guinea at any time, that is if PNG is indeed secretly inclined that way."

LOLOATA UNDERSTANDING

"Papua New Guinea leaders are becoming unnecessarily recalcitrant. And there is also an obvious breakdown of communication between Sir Michael Somare and his Government Technical Officers. PNG Technical Officers are not interpreting the decisions of their political leaders correctly, just to frustrate the negotiating process. In fear of that the BRA now sees the current peace process as not surviving beyond the end of 2000." said Mr. Havini.

"Past Agreements between Bougainville and PNG have been plagued with vague commitments and lack of genuine commitment from Papua New Guinea, refusing to address the substantial issues fairly and squarely.

"Whilst I acknowledge the work put into the latest ‘Loloata Understanding,’ 17-23 March 2000, one sees this lack of responsibility yet again, when ‘process of self-government and referendum’ were not addressed in certain and qualified terms."

"Unless speedy legislation is implemented through the PNG Parliament for an Autonomous Bougainville Government, over and above what Bougainville got in 1976, then there is no guarantee that we will ever get away from what has been offered. And that is Local-level Government under the "New Reforms on Provincial Government and Local-level Government," which essentially is a Local Government System in Papua New Guinea.

"I am a little bit sad to see in this document that the government of Papua New Guinea does not actually commit itself to a referendum on Bougainville. Whilst it has acknowledged a referendum, it instead delegates this only to the people of Bougainville. It reads, ‘The parties will address the referendum issue’ is not clearly stated whether Papua New Guinea is one of those parties. There are a number of parties in Bougainville including the Leitana Council of Elders," said Mr. Havini.

"Due to its lack of continued non co-operation, the BRA is now of the opinion that unless PNG understands its recent Negotiating Position of full autonomy (i.e., self government short of independence) inextricably tied to a referendum of independence, then there is no guarantee that the people of Bougainville could ever be safe from a Papua New Guinea re-invasion."

"Because of this the Bougainville Revolutionary Army is less likely to be cooperative on disarmament. This is until ‘safety and an iron-clad international political agreement on their right to an independent homeland’ are guaranteed, as the BRA is tasked with the protection of its people, land and environment," re-iterated Mr. Havini.

While Mr. Havini thanked the Fiji Government for its contribution to the Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville, he also cautioned Papua New Guinea, the region and the international community for that matter, to not see the current Peace Monitoring Group headed and under Australian Command as there to protect the so-called PNG’s sovereignty over Bougainville.

"We have been upset by recent political statements of out-going Australian PMG Commanders, that they were there to protect PNG’s sovereignty. Whilst this is essentially a matter between Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, the PMG’s role is clearly that of a ‘neutral peace-keeping’ force on Bougainville otherwise stated," concluded Mr. Havini from Nadi today.

Mr. Havini was in Nadi, Fiji for a week’s meeting as the Bougainville Delegate to the Pacific NGOs Conference on Decentralized Cooperation and the Future of the Lomé Convention. The Joint Council of Ministers of the 71 ACP and 15 European Union Member States under ACP-EU Cooperation recently met in Brussels, Belgium and chose Fiji to host the signing of the successor agreement to the current Lomé IV Convention in June 2000.

"With the restoration and re-construction of Bougainville from the ashes of war, Bougainville is going to be affected by these recent decisions. And especially by any favorable assistance and contribution from the ACP-EU Cooperation and other international donor agencies, to the re-building of its destroyed infrastructures," concluded Mr. Havini.

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