The National – Wednesday, June 29, 2011
By JEFFREY ELAPA
CENTRAL Bougainville MP Jim Miringtoro has blamed Rio Tinto, the former operator of the now-closed Bougainville copper mine, for the losses.
He said the company and the government of Australia were directly involved in the Bougainville crisis and used the PNG government to start a war against its own people for the benefit of the company.
Miringtoro said the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare had revealed that Rio Tinto was directly involved and responsible for the war on the island as reported on the television network SBS.
He said more than 15,000 people including PNG defence force soldiers died during the crisis when it started in 1988 and which lasted 15 years.
“The Australian Government and Rio Tinto used the government to declare war on its citizens as a tool to protect itself, and not the lives of the citizens,’’ he said.
“Somare’s testimony revealed what the people of Bougainville knew of Australia’s and CRA’s (Rio Tinto) involvement in the crisis after destroying the environment and the unfair treatment of landowner,” he said.
Miringtoro said Rio Tinto was not welcome to Bougainville and any intention to reopen the mine by the company with no considerattion for the people would not be allowed.
“We do not want the same pig that destroyed our garden to come back.
“Those pigs are looters and we do not want them in Paguna or Bougainville,” Miringtoro said.
He said the Bougainville government and the people had their own plans to bring other foreign investors.
Miringtoro said the problem in Bougainville was no different from other mining operations in the country.
He said the foreign companies had no regard for the welfare and the lifestyle of the landowners as wel. And they did not respect the environment.
He said the big companies mistreated and suppressed the people, dictated and controlled the government to allow them to continue destroying the environment and the people.
Miringtoro said although Peter Taylor continued to deny their involvement in the crisis, the truth remained as revealed by Somare.
“I thank the Grand Chief Sir Michael for being honest in revealing the truth. He is a true leader and he could have solved the crisis the Melanesian way if he was the prime minister,” he said.