WHY ARE WE BEING ROBBED OF OUR NATURAL RESOURCES? - WHO ARE THE REAL OWNERS?

by BEN MICAH
Good early morning esteemed friends and fellow citizens. Wake up. Wake up. Open your eyes to the most important issue at stake here.

OWNERSHIP RIGHTS OVER THE LAND AND RESOURCES ON THE SURFACE AND BENEATH.

Land in melanesia is owned by tribes and clans and has always been since time immemorial. Land which includes rivers, lakes, reefs, lagoons, seas and oceans between islands have traditional customary owners who have stories that connect their ownership claims that go back many generations.

The process of incorporating land groups has fortunately captured these stories from elders and are now recorded and documented for future posterity. Land was never surrendered without some form of exchange or compensation. Unless off course it was lost to other tribes through war fare. Every tribe, clan and community in our country know the boundaries of their land and the inheritance that entitles them to claim ownership rights over it.

The 5 or 10% of land that was alienated for administration, commerce or missions by the colonials in British Papua or German New guinea were given in exchange for something. Things like axes and knives were material items of great value as they replaced stone axes and made manual labor easier. The huge coconut plantations on the coastlines and islands were cleared by axes, a feat that lazy bones with chain saws can not repeat today.

Land was exchanged for iron tools. As calico(cloth) began to replace grass skirts and penis gourds clothes became things of value. Land was exchanged for textile material. Vast hectares of land was given for free to the evangelizing Christian missionaries in exchange for a life in heaven. I have traveled the length and breadth of this country in my 40 years of politics and I have heard thousands of stories of how land for that plantation or that government or mission station, school or health center was given away and the name of the tribal or clan leader that received the compensation in whatever form.

Activities on the land surface interms of development and the recognition of ownership rights carries on the same parttern even though the consideration is now mostly in monetary terms.

The issue of ownership rights below the surface land became complicated with the entry of extractive industries. Others more versed with the history of the bulolo gold field operations can enlightens us about what arrangements were made by the company and the colonial administration to compensate the indigenous owners of the land in exchange for extracting valuable minerals from their land?

I Will now make an assumption as iam still researching evidence. I stand to challenged on this. My assumption is that the Australian companies with British connections operating under the mining ordinances act/regulations of Queensland or New South Wales claimed ownership rights of minerals in the first major mine in bulolo to panguna and all other mineral and hydro carbon resources below the surface of our land to this day under the principle of TERRA NULLUS. NO MAN'S LAND.

This is the principle belief that accompanied the proclamation of the vast continent of Australia by captain James cook for the British crown. A land unoccupied by human beings and therefore vacant. By virtue of that proclamation all land on the surface and beneath became crown land. The near extermination of the indigenous people who are closely related to our melanesian race has been part and parcel of the process of alienation of the true owners of Australia for the last 400 years.

The principle of TERRA NULLUS was applied in the bouganville agreement and the development of the panguna mine on bouganville. The environment degradation from mining operations that ignited the fight to protect and preserve the jaba river developed into a civil war between our government and citizens on bouganville.

Bouganville should have been the cross road for us to stop and seriously review the destructive impact of extractive industries and develop alternative policies that adequately compensates landowners and ensure minimal damage to the environment. We have foolishly continued hell bent on giving away for free or for peanuts trillions of dollars worth of gold, copper, nickel, cobalt, oil and gas since oktedi, porgera, misima, tolokuma, lihir, kutubu, hides, hidden valley and ramu nico.

The principle of TERRA NULLUS has insidiously found its way into the minds of our politicians and bureaucrats since self government and independence that land below the surface does not belong to anybody. The mineral and hydro carbon barons have convinced us that because it belongs to no one it must be owned by the state(crown). So we fell for the trap and enacted in our mineral and hydro carbon legislations laws that have given all resources 6 feet below the surface to the state(crown).

Hang on but in England the ownership rights of the king above and below the surface has no limit. So along the same royal claim to land how can a tribal king from baimuruu or watut and their tribe not lay claim to land rights on the surface and beneath. The sultan of Brunei became wealthy because of that exclusive claim to his land before and after oil was discovered. The kings, sultans and emirs of the Arab world, asia and Africa are wealthy by their rightful claim of ownership rights to ancestral lands.

The oil and mineral tycoons who own and control the world's largest economy the United States of America became wealthy through the claim of ownership rights above and beneath the surface of the earth.

I feel so ashamed to have been part of the state system that has fallen for the deception of foreign capitalists who are only here to enrich themselves but can not live in this third world nation. They are accumulating the wealth they are cheaply making from the extraction of our mineral and hydro carbon resources for the bank account of their children and grandchildren in foreign lands.

The land of our ancestors has been plundered and our rich resources given away without fair compensation by our own laws to the foreigners. The state can not lay claim to land and resources it has legislated to own with out fair compensation to the ancestral owners. It is not state owned untill and unless the ancestral owners are fairly compensated.

The issuing of minerals and hydro carbon licenses that confers the ownership rights to the license holder without compensation to the state is plain dumb and stupid. To be asked to pay for your equity in the development of something you gave away for free is stupidity of the highest order. The state ever since the enactment of this unbelievable laws has been acting like a pimp not selling but giving away for free the dignity and livelihood of people with a soul and a spirit to feed the greed and lust for money of the wealthy.

I say enough is enough. In Spanish they say. NO PASARAN!!. NO PASS THROUGH. WE MUST NOW ERECT PSYCHOLOGICAL BARRIERS TO STOP THE ENTRY OF ILLEGAL PEOPLE AND THE CONDUCT OF ILLEGAL ACTIVITIES ON THE LAND OF OUR ANCESTORS. we MUST start with the wapu/golpu mine and elk/entelope resources. We must support the ancestral owners of these lands and resources through court or what ever means to stop all further activities until the parliament repeal the unjust laws that have deprived the indigenous owners of land and resources the right to their true wealth.

We the ancestral owners of land and resources MUST dictate the terms of all future negotiations not the state. I challenge all members of parliament to stand up for your rights as ancestral owners of land and resources in our country. You must and can do it for your tribe/clan,family, villiage the electorate you represent and the country that has given you the previllige to service its people.

DO IT NOW NOT LATER. MAY GOD HELP AND PRESERVE OUR STRUGGLE TO RECLAIM OUR ANCESTRAL RIGHTS TO OUR GREAT LAND AND TRUE ATTAINMENT OF OUR TRUE INDEPENDENCE

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