By OGIA MIAMEL
LEADERS of New Ireland and Autonomous Region of Bougainville gathered in Kavieng this week to commemorate the peace ceremony that took place in 2008 between Sir Julius Chan and AROB president the late Joseph Kabui.
Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army leader Sam Kauona told the gathering: “This day I am glad to stand on this sacred ground where the leaders of New Ireland and Bougainville stood on it to plant this coconut tree. I am happy and I can feel the spirit of joining with my members.”
Kauona said the Sandline crisis happened because of colonial rule that took the rights of customary landownership away from people.
“There are two things colonisation brings into our region, but out of all these good things there are some bad things that also happened,” he said.
“On colonisation the Europeans and Japanese came into our land and in that period of time the right to own land was taken away from us. All colonisers stole it. Britain and Germany made an exchange on the island of Bougainville and Western Samoa in 1899 and a new way to look after ownership in our region from there but it was 100 years later that Britain cemented it.
“On the legal side they call it the Mining Ordinance of 1928 in Australia and the New South Wales, in that law it gave them right to own minerals six feet below – it’s not for the people but it belongs to the queen. Following this, colonisers exploited our resources.”
He added that they were still fighting to fix all the laws so they could own their land and resources.
Namatanai MP Byron Chan said he witnessed his father going through a lot of pressure and stress during the Sandline crisis and it was a very difficult time for the family.
Kavieng MP Ben Micah said eight years ago the two leaders made peace and the coconut tree symbolises the relationship and strong cultural ties the two provinces have.
“Peace is something that we can’t touch or see but we can see the tree, so New Ireland and its people treasure this friendship and relationship for us New Ireland and Bougainville people. It will grow to all parts of the country,” Micah said.
By OGIA MIAMEL