PNG activists spurred on in campaign over PMIZ
A government case against opponents of PNG's Pacific Marine Industrial Zone has been dropped and the campaigners have dedicated their victory to a tireless fighter for the cause, the late Nancy Sullivan.
The Papua New Guinea government has dropped its case against opponents of a massive fish cannery development planned for PNG's northern coast.
The government was trying to restrain the group from campaigning against the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone which would involve up to ten canneries on the Madang Lagoon.
A court has ordered the government to pay compensation and costs to the 11 defendants involved.
One of the defendants i the environmentalist, Dorothy Tekwie, who says the victory has been dedicated to fellow campaigner Nancy Sullivan who died in a car crash in the United States last week (week ending 19 July).
DOROTHY TEKWIE: It is not about PMIZ and stopping PMIZ. It's about our human rights, our rights to freedom of assembly, our rights to freedom of expression, our rights to conduct awareness, our rights to access our land. With 5000 plus people that signed the petition, responsible governments would look at the issues that are raised by the petition and address them instead of resorting to legal avenues to try and sort these problems.
SALLY ROUND: And do you know why the government decided to drop the case, was that explained?
DT: Well basically there is no basis for them to proceed in the angle that they were taking because they were trying to stop us from engaging in what is basically our human rights and guaranteed by the constitution. That is conducting meetings, getting together as a group to organise activities. Going on the land which landowners have a right to go to. For us we said, hey it is our right to go on to deal with these issues. But for the government it wasn't about any of the issues that were in the petition. They decided to stop us. They were taking a restraining order to stop us from talking about PMIZ. It was wrong from the start and was wrong advice. The government of PNG has been incompetent in dealing with PMIZ issues for the last ten years. Even the land issue, the ownership of the land is still an outstanding thing. The land issue is one, the environmental issue, where there have been no environmental assessment impact studies done, social impact assessments have not been done and these sorts of issues must be discussed with the communities openly. And communities must be informed about all this before they can make a decision to develop this place.
SR: So many different issues as you've explained. Now the death of Nancy Sullivan, how much of a blow is that to the campaign that' you've been mounting here?
DT: Dr Sullivan has been the mother of Madang. She's been the woman behind, the engine behind the engine room, keeping this debate alive on all these issues and she's been pulling people together to try and help. We have had no international donor assistance towards this particular campaign. It's basically energy Nancy has generated through her influence and her contacts bringing us all together. She wanted to see this resolved and we've dedicated the win so far to her work in trying to keep this, not stop the PMIZ project, but ensure the landowners get benefit from the process, that they are respected and the environment is protected and there is assurance from government that there will be minimal damage and all that before these things proceed. Dr Sullivan's passing has been a blow us but it actually encouraged us to speak up and see that it's completed. It's a fitting tribute to her that we were able to get awarded costs and a little bit of compensation to everybody who's been stressed out, took time off, were even harassed by the police.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: