Canberra refuses visas to Bougainville reps


Canberra refuses visas to Bougainville reps

Representatives from the Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army have been refused visas to enter Australia to attend a conference at the Australian National University June 22-24. Canberra's refusal to grant the documents followed a request by the Papua New Guinea government.

The secretary of the BIG, Martin Miriori, who holds a valid United Nations passport and is a resident of the Solomon Islands, said the ANU had been told by the head of the foreign affairs department in Canberra that no visas would be issued to Miriori or any other BIG representatives.

The conference organiser, the ANU Department of Political and Social Change, invited many representatives and supporters of the PNG-appointed Bougainville Transitional Government, including its premier, Theodore Miriung, as well as PNG government representatives.

Bougainville human rights activist Lillian Crofts commented: "It seems absurd that the conference at the ANU is supposed to be about conflict resolution, yet only one side of the conflict has been allowed to attend ... The refusal of visas is directly contravening a number of United Nations resolutions that have been passed in Geneva since 1992 with regard to lifting the blockade and freedom of movement and travel within Bougainville, PNG and overseas." n