Aloysius Laukai | Pacific Media Watch
The controversial Bougainville Mining Bill has been passed by the Autonomous Bougainville Government parliament and has been immediately condemned by critics as “forgetting history”.
The bill went through the thrd reading to become a Bougainville law yesterday.
It has been adopted in spite of all the negotiations and dissatisfaction expressed by factions of the communities throughout Bougainville.
The bill did not go unchallenged but was forced to go through scrutiny by former combatants who demanded certain sections to be removed before they could allow the government to finally pass the bill.
At the time of the passing of the bill, the House was full to capacity as people witnessed the passing of the bill.
The member for Central Bougainville and Minister for Communication in the Papua New Guinea National Government, Jimmy Miringtoro, told Radio New Dawn FM from Port Moresby that he was not happy that the ABG had rushed this bill through on the eve of the ABG general elections.
He said the ABG should have left the bill to the next government after more scrutiny from all stakeholders on Bougainville.
Miringtoro said that pushing the bill through was “not proper” as other outstanding issues were still not yet resolved on the future of mining on Bougainville.
‘Still in dark’
He said that from the beginning he had warned the ABG against the bill, especially when the people were “still in the dark” about how they might lose their rights form their land and resources forever.
The minister also also said that the bill had been written by “outsiders” like Adam Smith International which had been involved in controversial development policies in the Third World.
It was unfortunate the government did not “listen to the cries of the citizens”, Miringtoro said.
The Australian-based Bougainville Freedom Movement also criticised the passing of the law
It challenged a speech by Bougainville President John Momis yesterday when he was quoted as saying: “With our new mining bill, we are completely rejecting that terrible past,” referring to the decade-long civil war over the Panguna copper mine and the envronmental degradation.
“Does this mean that President Momis is forgetting his own history and the shocking history of Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) in its mining operations on Bougainville and what the mining company did to the people of Bougainville and the environment?” said BFM in a statement.
“It is a ‘terrible past’ and will not be forgotten but it should not be ‘rejected’.”
Not once had the BCL or Rio Tinto mining companies ever apologised or compensated the people of Bougainville for the environmental devastation it caused and the “extremely wicked atrocities it inflicted on the people of Bougainville”, said BFM.
The writs for the election were due to be issued by the Speaker, Andrew Miriki, later today.