Bougainville office fire bombed


By Norm Dixon The Honiara home and office of the Solomon Islands representative of the Bougainville Interim Government, Martin Miriori, was fire bombed in the early hours of February 1. The attack, suspected to have been carried out by agents of the Papua New Guinea government, has severely hampered the independence movements' ability to communicate. The attack seems to have been an attempt not only to silence the BIG but also to kill Miriori and his family who were asleep in the house when the fire bombing took place. They managed to escape with only the clothes on their backs. The blaze destroyed humanitarian aid donated by church organisations and trade unions in Australia and the US. Most seriously, the radio and fax machine which allowed the BIG's continued communication with the outside world and enabled it to break the information blockade on the island were destroyed. Miriori said that PNG "has been attempting to close down this humanitarian office for a number of years and I have no doubt that this act of terrorism was planned and carried out by the PNG military." The BIG's Australian representative, Mosoes Havini, said the attack "showed to what lengths some PNG elements will go. Such an attack on leaders of the Bougainville Interim Government and their representatives makes it extremely difficult to continue the peace negotiations which began in Cairns in December." Havini pointed out that the PNG Defence Force made a determined attempt to kill the BIG delegation to the Commonwealth- and UN-brokered Cairns talks as they returned to Bougainville on January 3. The delegation came under attack from an Australian-supplied Iroquois helicopter gunship, three patrol boats, also supplied by Australia, and shots were fired by PNG soldiers from the shore. Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands' police and immigration departments have yet to formerly charge Australian human rights lawyer Rosemarie Gillespie after she was arrested by a Solomons patrol boat while crossing into the Solomon Islands from Bougainville. Gillespie has spent the last eight months on Bougainville. She likely to be deported to Australia.