LANDOWNERS of the Panguna copper mine, who went to war in 1988 over what they claimed then was utter disrespect and disregard for their existence and welfare, are claiming the same maltreatment as the National Government, the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Bougainville Copper Ltd prepare for negotiations on the possible reopening of the mine, The National reports.
They are claiming that the interim Panguna Landowners Association (PLA) has not been recognised and its reconciliation process not supported.
In a letter dated Oct 5, to chairman of BCL Paul Coleman, PLA interim secretary Lawrence Daveona said: “The people of Panguna mine leases believe that ABG, BCL and the Government have the legal obligation to assist Panguna mine landowners.
“For far too long, even before the crisis, we have been used for your own benefits. Through the crises and up till now our people are still suffering.”
He said while the name Panguna landowners was “too often prostituted in the news media by the chairman of BCL in his chairman’s statement at the AGM”, the same chairman had said variously that the landowners were disorganised.
“Our simple question now especially with the arrangements to prepare for
It ought to be noted that both BCL and the ABG had assisted the Panguna landowners with their reconciliation ceremony last October.
The company donated K5, 000 and ABG threw in K300, 000.
Daveona said the work of reconciliation and disarmament was not yet completed and it would take at least two to three million more to cover the entire island.
He said presently their pleas were falling on deaf ears and it seems the reconciliation process might be short-lived and the review of the BCA proceeds without the landowners participating.
“Most of the interim PLA executive members have worked tirelessly year after year over the past 21 years keeping the Panguna landowner’s fire burning because of the concern for the welfare of their people without receiving any payment. Our concern for our people is deep rooted and we will not rest until such time we have achieved our goal,” Daveona said.
“All we need from you as partners in this process are for you to assist us with:
- Make funding available to ABG electoral commission to conduct PLA elections; and
- Make funding available for United Panguna Landowners Association (UPLA) BCA review task force.”
Daveona said he was very disappointed to hear comments repeated about the Panguna landowners not being organised and do not constitute a legal body that BCL can organise.
He said the landowners had formed the interim organisation out of their resources and it was up to the company to assist with an election to make the body be properly elected and incorporated.
Daveona was particularly critical of the Government and its Office of Bougainville Affairs which had not accommodated a single request to date.
He said such neglect had led to the crisis.