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Bougainville remembers fallen heroes

The Autonomous Region of Bougainville remembered the fallen from the Bougainville Conflict as the region commemorated its Remembrance Day today.

May 17 is a gazetted public holiday for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. The date was originally the date that the late revolutionary leader Francis Ona declared a Unilateral Declaration of Independence for Bougainville. It has since become Bougainville’s Remembrance Day.

In Arawa Town, Central Bougainville, former commanders of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army gathered to remember and pay tribute to their fallen comrades and those that lost their lives during the 10-year civil war on Bougainville.

Present at the ceremony,which began with a dawn service at the Lady of Mercy Parish, were former BRA Senior Commanders including former BRA General Sam Kauona.

Bougainville President and former overall Commander of the BRA Ishmael Toroama said that the Bougainville Conflict is an important part of Bougainville’s and PNG history.

President Toroama said that the conflict was a result of the marginalisation of the people of Bougainville by the National Government and the Bougainville Copper Limited.

“A people oppressed cannot remain that way but will rise up to fight for their rights and freedoms. This is what happened on Bougainville 33 years ago,” President Toroama said.

“Our young men were forced to bear arms and defend their homes, their people and their freedom’s against foreign oppressors,” President Toroama said.

“The sacrifice by these very brave men set the foundations for peace and unity on Bougainville and more importantly it set us on our current course to political independence,” President Toroama added.

The President also paid tribute to members of the Papua New Guinea security forces who lost their lives on Bougainville during the conflict.

He said the PNG Security Forces were acting upon the orders of the National Government to fight and die for a war they did not understand.

President Toroama said the memory of those who lost their lives must not be in vain. The people have a moral responsibility to the fallen to ensure Bougainville’s Independence aspirations are realised and there is peace and prosperity on Bougainville.

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