It is no secret that a lot of money has been made from selling merchandise with the Upe symbol, especially for both diplomatic and political purposes where it is on the flag and on Bougainville government letterheads.
The real owners of the symbol, the people of Wakunai, Central Bougainville, and Kunua/Keriaka North Bougainville are now calling on the Autonomous Bougainville Government to copyright the symbol for their benefit.
Chief’s spokesperson Peter Vari said: “The use of the Upe symbol now needs to be regulated and more importantly the ABG and us need to discuss a copyright of the symbol.
“Whoever is using the symbol for business purposes needs to pay us too.
“A lot of people are now selling t-shirts, hats and I don’t think they’re paying tax also, especially street sales and in market places,” Vari continued. “If you cannot pay us directly then pay tax to our government, simple as that.
“We are crying for services into our homes like health, education and the road system, and some people are using our sacred symbol to make money, this is totally unfair.
“On behalf of the people of Wakunai, Kunua and Keriaka, I am now making this call to the Autonomous Bougainville Government to regulate the use of the symbol and the copyright must be between the government and us, the people who are still holding on to the Upe tradition.”