Evans 'misinformed', says Havini
By Norm Dixon
Australia's foreign minister, Senator Gareth Evans has been "misinformed" about the use in Bougainville of the Iroquois combat helicopters supplied to the PNGDF by Australia, Moses Havini told Green Left Weekly. Havini has received fresh reports of airborne attacks on Bougainville villages.
Evans told the SBS Dateline program on July 18 that the helicopters had been withdrawn from use in Bougainville because of the bad publicity it had provoked.
Soon after Evans' claim, a PNGDF spokesperson told the Pacnews Service the aircraft were still in service in Bougainville "to transport men and supplies and for medical evacuation".
Radio Australia's correspondent reported in June that he had witnessed an Iroquois helicopter equipped as a gunship. Havini confirmed this. "Contrary to what Senator Gareth Evans said on SBS television ... we have received fresh reports that on Sunday, July 19, the same helicopter gunships that were supposed to have been withdrawn strafed the village of Manetai, 16 kilometres from Arawa."