FROM COMRADES TO ENEMIES, TO BROTHERS IN PEACE



Words and Pictures by MERIBA TULO

An emotional scene this morning at the start of the Pre-Reconciliation ceremony in Kokopo, with former PNGDF Commander Jerry Singirok, embracing his former commanding officer Joe Pais.

This morning was the very first time both men had met since 1978 - understandably an emotional occasion for both gentlemen.

Mr Pais had been Singirok's Platoon Commander after completing training at the Joint Services College.

Both men had been on opposing sides of the Bougainville conflict - Mr Singirok rising through the ranks of the Defence Force to become its Commander in the 1990s, whilst Pais had become a rebel during the Crisis.

The crisis had meant that both men were enemies - seldom crossing paths while in battle.

This morning though was emotional for both gentlemen as they embrased and shed tears - recalling their comradeship prior to the Bougainville conflict.

Their stories are one of many that are being shared as veterans from the State Security Forces, and Bougainville Veterans come together for Phase One of the National Reconciliation process.

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