Tag Archives: AFP

Bougainville: Australia positions itself as chief new coloniser ahead of referendum

The controversial Panguna mine which land holders are fighting to stop being re-opened for foreign profiteers.

Susan Price | Green Left Weekly | June 14, 2019

A spokesperson for the Bougainville Hardliners Group has called on the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) to explain why the Australian Federal Police (AFP) were at the controversial Panguna mine site in central Bougainville on June 5.

AFP officers were seen taking GPS readings at the abandoned copper mine site. James Onartoo, a former leader of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, said the community has a right to know why they were there and what they were doing.

“I think the public is owed an explanation as to what is happening,” said Onartoo. “To the best of my knowledge the AFP were ousted in 2007 on suspicion of spying on the ABG and the people of Bougainville by the former President, late Joseph Kabui.”

He suggested that their presence could be linked to the mine’s controversial reopening.

“Their presence at Panguna, which is the site of so much controversy and disagreements plus issues of sensitive nature stemming from proposed reopening by ABG, raises serious questions considering the fact that, in the past, Australia has always supported military intervention by the Papua New Guinea Defence Force to regain control of the mine.”

Onartoo said if the AFP can raid the ABC, “they are capable of anything”, including gathering intelligence “for the purpose of regaining control of Panguna and restarting the mine with use of force”.

The June 11 ABC Radio Pacific Beat said the AFP confirmed that members from the Papua New Guinea-Australia Policing Partnership did visit the site to “undertake an assessment of capability development for support to the Bougainville Police Service”.

Onartoo said Australia’s interest in the mineral deposits at Panguna has never declined. He has criticised Australia’s advice that the ABG prioritise mining over agriculture, tourism, fishing and other sustainable industries.

Several companies, including of Australian origin, are vying to reopen the Panguna mine, which was shut down in 1990 after a brutal battle against mostly indigenous landholders who received none of the huge profits generated by the mine. More than 20,000 people were killed during the 10 year civil war.

The Bougainville Hardliners Group has been actively resisting attempts by the ABG to weaken the Mining Act to give foreign companies exclusive rights to large-scale mining. It opposes further large-scale mining in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region, saying the focus should be on sustainable alluvial mining.

Bougainville is scheduled to hold its independence referendum in October under the terms of the 2001 peace agreement. The referendum outcome then has to be ratified by the PNG parliament.

The ABG has expressed its desire to reopen the Panguna mine.

Legislation to amend the Mining Act is currently being debated in the PNG parliament. According to landowners, the proposed amendments would effectively remove customary ownership of minerals and remove landowners’ veto rights over mining projects.

Onartoo has said that Bougainville’s 350,000 people do not need large-scale mining, and that the changes being proposed are in breach of sections 23 and 24 of Bougainville’s constitution as well as the Mining Act which provides protection from a repeat of “the ownership of minerals on the island by colonisers”.

A report by Papua New Guinea Mine Watch in January said Australian businessperson Jeffrey McGlinn of Caballus Mining is pushing for the act to be amended. A Radio New Zealand report said McGlinn “wanted to shortcut a number of what it calls complicated requirements in the act to fast track vital infrastructure development in Bougainville and boost employment ahead of the referendum”.

However, other reports suggest that he is more focussed on seizing control of major mineral deposits across Bougainville ahead of the referendum.

The Osikaiyang Landowners group has referred the government’s mining plans to the Papua New Guinea Ombudsman.

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Tensions stirred as Australian police visit controversial Bougainville mine

Australian Federal Police take photos at the abandoned Panguna mine site

Bill Bainbridge | ABC Pacific Beat | 11 June 2019

There’s been disquiet in Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, after several members of the Australian Federal Police made a site visit to the Panguna mine.

The now dormant copper mine was at the centre of Bougainville’s bloody civil war of the 1990s and and is still a sensitive subject among those locals who oppose any moves to reopen it.

Suspicions were raised when the small group of Australian Federal Police visited the mine last week.

Chris Baria from the Bougainville Hardliners Group says locals were surprised by the visit, particularly since the community governments didn’t know they were coming.

“Why did they not call on the community government, instead of just sneaking around the mine…making people suspicious,” he said.

But deputy Police Commissioner for Bougainville, Francis Tokura, who accompanied the AFP officers, says there was nothing untoward with the visit, and was upset with social media reports that suggested otherwise.

“The amount of damage that that kind of reporting can do is not good,” Mr Tokura said.

He says Panguna was just one short stop on a tour of medical facilities, and visits with the water police to help them prepare for the upcoming referendum in October.

The AFP has also confirmed that members from the Papua New Guinea – Australia Policing Partnership (PNG-APP) did visit the site, while in Bougainville for work to “undertake an assessment of capability development for support to the Bougainville Police Service”.

It says the trip to Panguna mine was “due to the route taken under escort” by the Bougainville police.

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Police: ‘Nothing suspicious’ about AFP staff in Bougainville

Australian Federal Police checking out the abandoned Panguna mine site in ‘preparation for the referendum on independence’….

SEE ALSO: AFP PRESENCE AT BOUGAINVILLE MINE RAISES SUSPICIONS

Radio New Zealand | 10 June 2019

Bougainville deputy police commissioner, Chief Inspector Francis Tokura, says there is nothing suspicious about the presence there of Australia Federal Police last week.

There had been a call from the chair of a group called the Bougainville Hardliners, James Onartoo, who said the government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea province needs to explain what these police were up to.

Mr Onartoo says the AFP officers and civilian staff appeared to be taking GPS readings at the the site of the controversial Panguna mine site in central Bougainville.

But Mr Tokura says they were there as part of preparations for the international police support team that will be in Bougainville at the time of its referendum on independence in October.

That mission, to be led by New Zealand, will also include police from Fiji, Solomon Islands and Australia.

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Photo confirms AFP officers visit to the Panguna mine

Australian Federal Police take photos at the site of the abandoned Panguna mine.

AFP PRESENCE AT BOUGAINVILLE MINE RAISES SUSPICIONS

The Chairman of Bougainville Hardliners Group and former combatant turned businessman, James Onartoo has called on the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) Police Minister to explain what the Australian Federal Police (AFP) were doing at the site of the controversial Panguna mine on Wednesday, June 5.

According to Mr. Onartoo, members of the communities around the mine site became suspicious when they saw the Australian police taking GPS readings at various points around the mine. This points included the one where the mining company BCL considered building an airstrip in the early part of the Bougainville crisis, to bring in aircraft supposedly to evacuate expatriate mine workers and their families out of Panguna.

“I think the public is owed an explanation as to what is happening. To the best of my knowledge the AFP were ousted in 2007 on suspicions of spying on the ABG and the people of Bougainville by the former President, late Joseph Kabui.

“Their presence at Panguna, which is the site of so much controversy and disagreements plus issues of sensitive nature stemming from proposed reopening by ABG, raises serious questions considering the fact that in the past Australia always supported military intervention by Papua New Guinea Defense Force to regain control of the mine.

“If AFP can raid ABC office in Australia itself then they are capable of anything including maybe gathering intelligence on ground for the purpose of regaining control of Panguna and restarting the mine with use of force,” Mr. Onartoo said. 

Mr Onartoo said that it is a well known fact that Australia’s interest in the mineral deposits at Panguna never declined and Australian advisors to ABG have denounced agriculture, tourism, fisheries and other sustainable industries saying that only mining is able to finance Bougainville’s independence. Several companies which are vying to reopen the Panguna mine, which was shutdown by landowners in 1990, are also of Australian origin. 

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AFP PRESENCE AT BOUGAINVILLE MINE RAISES SUSPICIONS

Presence of the Australian Federal Police at Panguna is being questioned

Chris Baria | June 8 2019

The Chairman of Bougainville Hardliners Group and former combatant turned businessman, James Onartoo has called on the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) Police Minister to explain what the Australian Federal Police (AFP) were doing at the site of the controversial Panguna mine on Wednesday, June 5.

According to Mr. Onartoo, members of the communities around the mine site became suspicious when they saw the Australian police taking GPS readings at various points around the mine. This points included the one where the mining company BCL considered building an airstrip in the early part of the Bougainville crisis, to bring in aircraft supposedly to evacuate expatriate mine workers and their families out of Panguna.

“I think the public is owed an explanation as to what is happening. To the best of my knowledge the AFP were ousted in 2007 on suspicions of spying on the ABG and the people of Bougainville by the former President, late Joseph Kabui.

“Their presence at Panguna, which is the site of so much controversy and disagreements plus issues of sensitive nature stemming from proposed reopening by ABG, raises serious questions considering the fact that in the past Australia always supported military intervention by Papua New Guinea Defense Force to regain control of the mine.

“If AFP can raid ABC office in Australia itself then they are capable of anything including maybe gathering intelligence on ground for the purpose of regaining control of Panguna and restarting the mine with use of force,” Mr. Onartoo said. 

Mr Onartoo said that it is a well known fact that Australia’s interest in the mineral deposits at Panguna never declined and Australian advisors to ABG have denounced agriculture, tourism, fisheries and other sustainable industries saying that only mining is able to finance Bougainville’s independence. Several companies which are vying to reopen the Panguna mine, which was shutdown by landowners in 1990, are also of Australian origin. 

The AFP party, which comprised of three policemen and two civilians including a doctor were escorted on their visit to the autonomous region by the Bougainville Service Commander, Francis Tokura and police personnel. They are also said to have visited the proposed border posts sites at Koromira and Kangu Beach.

Mr Onartoo said he had nothing to say about AFP visiting other parts of the Autonomous Region.

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PNG premier calls for Australian Federal Police intervention to quell gun violence ‘crisis’ threatening LNG operations

PHOTO: Tribal fighting is a persistent problem in Hela province. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

PHOTO: Tribal fighting is a persistent problem in Hela province. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

ABC Radio | 2 March 2017

The premier of Papua New Guinea’s Hela province is calling for an Australian Federal Police intervention to quell an outbreak of lawlessness he says has reached crisis point.

Key points:

  • Premier says province is awash with arms, including high-powered weapons
  • Describes situation as crisis with resource-rich province on the brink of failure
  • Says external help is essential, claiming some police are smuggling weapons for warlords

Premier Francis Potape said an escalating wave of armed violence exacerbated by some police officers was threatening critical liquefied natural gas and oil resources.

“Police in Hela province are good but there are also a few individuals who are rogue police and they assisted war lords to bring in weapons from the neighbouring highland provinces. And also, also they have supplied bullets to warring tribes,” he said.

“This accumulation of weapons came to a stage where it is, that part of the province, of the country, is coming to a failed, crisis situation and we need someone from the outside.”

Police were refusing to act on arrest warrants against scores of suspects and high-powered weapons were amongst those smuggled into the country, he added.

Tribal fighting in the province is a persistent problem in Hela province but flared up dramatically last year.

In response, a joint PNG police and military intervention was launched to gather as many illegal weapons from local people as possible, reportedly with mixed results.

Exxon-Mobil’s PNG LNG project in Hela — the country’s largest resources venture — has been repeatedly disrupted by incursions and blockades from disgruntled landowners, who complain they have not duped on promised royalties.

Mr Potape did not say if he had run his rather extraordinary request past PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Australian Federal Police representatives could not be reached for comment.

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