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A total of 15 victims from two villages in the Makis constituency, Buin District, in South Bougainville, killed in the Bougainville conflict 25 years ago have be given a decent burial.
This is seen as a significant move that will foster reconciliation and unification in the communities.
The two villages of Leroutu and Kokopo lost 15 lives as a result of factional infighting during the crisis.
The crucial move is seen as key to strengthen the current peace and the referendum awareness efforts and hopefully will also bring together aggrieved families among former warring factions.
Out of the 15 deaths, three of the body remains were dug out of a shallow grave beside the Piano Parish Soccer Field which used to be a PNGDF Army Camp during the height of the Bougainville uprising.
Another body was retrieved at Morula Village six kilometres west of Piano Catholic Mission and the remains of the other casualties will be dug out of their burial sites later this year.
The ongoing Makis reconciliation involves the process in retrieving body remains from the jungle, conducting a decent reburial, and then follow- up with reconciliation and gestures of handshakes and a small amount of compensation to the families of those killed.
Over the weekend, families, relatives, former combatants and community leaders led a solemn mass of reconciliation at the Holy Cross, Piano Catholic Church.
“At last you have decided to come together to reconcile with each other.
“Let bygones be bygones and work together to bring peace and development to our area as unity is the key to our survival as we yearn for the promised referendum in 2019," said Bougainville Government Member for Makis John Vianney when speaking to the people during mass on Sunday.
He said achieving a prosperous future for their children was vital considering the crucial costly political journey Bougainville had gone through the past years.
The ABG through its Department of Bougainville Peace Agreement and Implementation (BPAI) is overseeing the referendum awareness in the 33 constituencies to educate communities on vital issues.
Later this month, each constituency through their representative MP will table a progress report in the ABG Parliament on how they are managing the referendum preparation. The final referendum-ready declaration will be made by respective constituency MPs in the next parliament session which is due in September.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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