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There will be no more war on Bougainville and Papua New Guinea ever again.
This was the bold statement by the former warring faction of Bougainville Veterans and Papua New Guinea Security Forces which includes the PNG Defence Force and Royal PNG Constabulary in a very moving and emotional reconciliation ceremony at Vunapope, East New Britain Province Wednesday.
Retired Brigadier General Jerry Singirok who served as the commander in Bougainville during the 10 years of the crisis since 1989 described the event as one of the worst in the history of the country, whereby Melanesian brothers fought each other because of some bad decisions from foreigners and the governments during that time.
Singirok said such event like this must not be repeated at all cost. Bougainville Veterans frontman Ishmael Toroama while addressing the reconciliation ceremony also boldly stated that there won’t be any other war.
Another Bougainville Veteran James Onato declared that there will not be another war ever citing the past events as work of foreigners who have their own self-interest on Bougainville and its resources.
It was an emotional ceremony which started off with a dialogue whereby speakers from both parties spoke of their experiences during the conflict and the way forward. Commodore Peter Ilau blamed the system and laws of the government that sparked the war on Bougainville.
Colonel Walter Enuma called on the government to immediately change the laws of this country, the laws on the rights of the indigenous people to benefit from their land claiming the fight on Bougainville was not supposed to happen if the government had listened to the demands and plight of the local landowners on Bougainville. All the parties committed themselves to a mutual understanding as Melanesian brothers and vowed never again to repeat the same mistake and want the government to address problems of the people as best as they could so that there won’t be any loss of lives and properties and destruction.
“This is not our war, this is the war of foreign exploitation. This is the war of the decision makers. We’re just soldiers following orders, we’re not supposed to kill our own brothers and sisters. It was a bad decision from the people who are running the country and had put us in such an awkward situation. We must not repeat this event,” Col Enuma said.
After the dialogue, there was a mass led by Bishop Rochus Tatamai and completed with a customary reconciliation ceremony of breaking bows and arrows, shaking of hands, chewing of betelnut and planting of a coconut signifying everlasting peace and no more war on the island.
The PNG Security Forces apologised to the people of Bougainville for any wrong doing during the Crisis and the Bougainville Veterans also did likewise whilst accepting the apologies of the PNG Security Forces.
The next reconciliation which will be a bigger one will be held at Panguna, Central Bougainville after the referendum.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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