Port Moresby, 14 December, 2016 – Hundreds of Bougainvilleans participated in the Annual Peace walk on Friday, 9th of December in Buka Town. Participants of the Peace Walk included representatives of the Bougainville Government, the National Government, development partners, civil society organizations, schools, churches and ex-combatants. The Peace Walk was a reminder for every Bougainvillean men, women and children to stand for peace, and peace by peaceful means.
This peace walk was also a demonstration of the cordial relationship between the national government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government in progressing the implementation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement of 2001.
The initial concept of the Peace Walk was conceived through joint collaboration between the United Nations, the National government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government in 2012. Since its inception this has become a joint annual event. It is a symbol of the journey of peace and reconciliation that Bougainville has embarked on.
The Walk for Peace began at the Bougainville House of Representatives and ended at the Bel Isi Park in Buka Town, the site of mass grave dating back to the era of the Bougainville Conflict. The event culminated in a small reception at the Bougainville Parliament showcasing capacity building support that has been provided to the Bougainville House of Representatives through the UN Peacebuilding Fund.
“Peace Walk may happen only one day in a year. But we must wear peace on our sleeves and bear it in our hearts every day. It is the most precious and rewarding gift that we can wear, bear and share with others in our life time. Bougainville has something to show for its commitment to peace that was born out of a desire to return to peace by peaceful means. The Bougainville Peace Agreement, a joint creation by the National Government and the leaders of Bougainville is a testimony to this commitment”, said Simon Pentanu Speaker of the House of Representatives at the event.
“The UN is strongly committed to the Bougainville peace process. Over the years of presence in the region, we have seen significant transformation in Bougainville’s development, including political stability, economic growth, better delivery of education, health and other services. We will continue to support the national Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government in their work to bring peace and prosperity for all citizens”, said UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Roy Trivedy.