The National – Wednesday, December 15, 2010
By STEPHANIE ELIZAH
THE women and children of Bougainville are not ready for the reopening of Panguna mine, said a representative of the Bougainville Indigenous Women’s Landowners Association and sister of renowned Bougainville Revolutionary Army leader, late Francis Ona.
Lynette Ona, in response to recent reports of the mine’s reopening and talks to review the Bougainville Copper Agreement, added that the women of Bougainville had not been consulted for their views about the mine.
“In the past years, the women of Bougainville were just names, we never signed any agreement, we were never justly represented,” she said.
Ona added: “Panguna mine is not owned by only Panguna landowners because of the crisis, many lives were lost right across the island.
The mine belongs to the people from the South, Central and North Bougainville and they must be involved in any talks regarding the mine.
“The people of Bougainville must make a good decision about the reopening of the mine because if issues arising from the crisis like payment of damages and compensation for lives lost are not resolved, it will not be a crisis for politicians or the world, it will be the people fighting amongst themselves,” Ona said.
She urged that in order for peace and stability to continue on the island, a proper feasibility study must be conducted throughout the autonomous region.
“Consultation and awareness must be carried out by the stakeholders to gauge people’s feedback on the feasibility of re-opening the mine.
“We fought against the environmental damages the mine created and we fought for our independence. We have not yet gained independence and here we are considering reopening the mine,” Ona said.