This was where the proposed signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was to be held between the Autonomous Bougainville Government and so-called Panguna landowners. The deal would see Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) return to reopen the Panguna Mine.
The impenetrable roadblock was led by women chief from the ‘seven sisters’ areas in Central Bougainville.
The mothers, together with their daughters, youths, ex-combatants and Bougainville Hardliners, set up the roadblock, which started on Thursday night throughout Friday; refusing to move for passing vehicles or negotiating team.
Their message was simple: ‘No BCL, No Mining’.
Woman chief from Guava Village, Maggie Mirau Nombo, and Chief from Arawa and Pirurari, Kavatai Baria, said their land is their Mother, who provides their everyday needs and no one is allowed to exploit her.
Chief Maggie, who is a former primary school teacher, said how can those wanting to sign the MOA conduct such an act of injustice?
She said this will never happen again because they have suffered enough from all the injustice that has been brought on by BCL when it was in operation.
She said God has heard the cry of the Bougainville women, and justice will prevail.
“As long as I am the Chief from Panguna and Guava Village and owner of my land, BCL is not welcome. This is the Company that has killed our sons and daughters. ABG has to stop ignoring the cries of the women and take note that BCL is never allowed to come back to Panguna, and this is final and it is not negotiable,” she said.
Chief Kavatai also reminded everyone that ‘when God closes a door, no one can open it, and if God opens a door, no one can close it’. Panguna Mine was closed by God and if anyone was trying to reopen the Mine when it wasn’t God’s timing, then they better watch out because they are fighting against a big God.
Because of the strong opposition by the women, youths and Bougainville Hardliners, the high powered ABG delegation, led by President John Momis, returned to Buka on Friday afternoon without signing the MOA.
(Mothers and daughters at the roadblock)