Hundreds of Bougainvilleans lost their lives because of Colonialism
Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army Commander, Sam Kauona says, the 10-year bloody conflict which claimed the lives of hundreds of Bougainvilleans, Papua New Guineans, as well as Solomon Islanders was the result of colonialism.
And he says current laws on Bougainville must be changed before any mining activities are allowed to take place.
Mr. Kauona, describes Papua New Guinea's current mining laws as 'Stolen Rights Laws' which were adopted from Australia, and must be replaced.
He says the loss of lives and bloodshed were in fact sacrifices for indigenous people to buy back all these 'stolen rights' .
Under the Mining Ordinance Act of 1928, which was later amended by the colonial government and called the Bougainville Copper Agreement 1967, stipulates that all minerals six feet underground are crown property.
The amended Bougainville Copper Agreement 1967, allowed Bougainville Copper Limited to extend its prospecting authorities, mining and land leases, as well as equity and shareholdings.
However, no shares were given to landowners on Bougainville.
Mr. Kauona says these laws are the 'Stolen Rights Laws' which protected legalized stealing by Australia.
"These laws allowed legalized stealing by Australia at that time. When the Bougainvilleans resisted against BCL and the government of PNG, we did not know that we were fighting against the laws. Panguna Mine was just the manifestation of these laws. That's why when we fought, we were fighting against colonialism. We thought we were fighting with Papua New Guinea. No! Actually, we were fighting against those colonial laws. If you see the history of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, we have never been enemies. We were forced into a war that we did not want to fight. But, bloodshed occurred in this war and lives were lost. These sacrifices have now given us the power, strength and courage to get back all these rights today.".