PAPUA NEW GUINEA MILITARY ACCUSED OF BOUGAINVILLE RAPES

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 12, 2001 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---The Bougainville Women for Peace and Freedom and the Sydney-based Bougainville Freedom Movement attending a United Nations Conference in Sydney -- Women Wise Up -- have called for a Human Rights Commission to be established by the Papua New Guinea government.

They told the conference that war crimes by the Papua New Guinea military and rapists, during the 10-year war in Bougainville, must be addressed, as a matter of urgency.

"It is clear that the PNG military used repeated raping of Bougainville women and girls as a weapon of war," Ms. Kuntamari Crofts, a member of the Bougainville team, told the weekend conference.

"They have no other mechanism where these concerns could be heard. Some of these soldiers are still stationed in Bougainville or roaming the streets of Port Moresby, as free men."

"These women are still suffering deep wounds from such human rights violations and inhuman treatment. Hundreds of children have been born by Bougainville women from calculated acts of war rapes. While our women will always love these babies, the Papua New Guinea State stands accused by such acts of their soldiers," Ms. Crofts said.

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BOUGAINVILLE WOMEN FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM/ BOUGAINVILLE FREEDOM MOVEMENT

MEDIA STATEMENT February 11, 2001

Bougainville women raped and violated in a 10-year conflict with Papua New Guinea voice their frustration at the lack of justice afforded them and their loved ones. Bougainville Women demand Papua New Guinea set up a Human Rights Commission and call for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Bougainville.

University of New South Wales: The Bougainville Women for Peace and Freedom (BWPF) and Bougainville Freedom Movement-Sydney (BFM) attending the United Nations Conference Women Wise Up call for a Human Rights Commission (HRC) to be established by the PNG Government immediately.

They have told the conference that war crimes from the Papua New Guinea military and rapists, during the 10-year war in Bougainville, must be addressed, as a matter of urgency. They have no other mechanism (such as an International Criminal Court) where these concerns could be heard.

Some of these soldiers are still stationed in Bougainville or roaming the streets of Port Moresby, as free men.

"It is clear that the PNG military used repeated raping of Bougainville women and girls as a weapon of war. These women are still suffering deep wounds from such human rights violations and inhuman treatment.

"Hundreds of children have been born by Bougainville women from calculated acts of war rapes. Whilst our women will always love these babies, the Papua New Guinea State stands accused by such acts of their soldiers," Ms. Kuntamari Crofts, member of the Bougainville team told the weekend conference.

"When the Papua New Guinea soldiers raped our women, they often inserted instruments such as coffee cup handles into them. They also pumped engine grease into some women they raped. Two such young girls from Buka Island were rushed to Rabaul but one of them died in the process. When they seduced young Buka girls, they were often subjected to pack rape. They also introduced prostitution in Bougainville, something unheard of in our region. The BWPF is now writing a book where more of these stories will be told as a healing process to our Bougainville women", said Mrs. Marilyn Havini.

"There is no mechanism in Papua New Guinea such as a Human Rights Commission, where not only the women and people of Bougainville can report human rights abuses, but also the women and the ordinary people of Papua New Guinea. The women of Bougainville join the United Nations, the Government of Australia and the region in calling and urging the government of Papua New Guinea to establish its Human Rights Commission as soon as possible," urged Mrs. Marilyn Havini.

"It is understood that even the Australian Aid Agency, AusAid had offered funding to establish a Human Rights Commission in Papua New Guinea. We encourage the PNG Government to take this offer and create such a body immediately."

"The women’s platform for action addressed at this Women Wise UP conference emphasizes the urgency for nations to sign on at the United Nations for an International Criminal Court (ICC). Sixty nations have to sign on for an international court to be established. Australia, Samoa and other Pacific countries have signed but not Papua New Guinea. Because of this the people of Bougainville have no where in the whole world to look for protection of their human rights."

"Currently a regional Peace Monitoring Group is monitoring a cease-fire, which is a temporary measure until a resolution to the conflict is achieved.

"Australia funds this and is already looking at how soon to dismantle the Peace Monitoring Group in Bougainville. We women are asking what happens to us then?

"We urgently need the international community to assist us in setting up a ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’ - before Australia withdraws the PMG from Bougainville," concluded Mrs. Marilyn Havini.

For further information contact: Mrs. Marilyn Taleo Havini; Ms. Kuntamari Crofts; Ms. Vikki John: Mobile: 0409 226 428 Telephone: 02- 9804 7632.

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