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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > PNG Prime Minister Backs Greenpeace Logging Protest

PNG Prime Minister Backs Greenpeace Logging Protest

Date : 17th May 2002, Source : ENS

WAIGANI, Papua New Guinea, May 15, 2002 (ENS) - Greenpeace climbers ended their occupation of a log ship in Papua New Guinea today after the Prime Minister joined landowners and Greenpeace in condemning a logging project.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta released an official statement saying, "The Kiunga-Aiambak project, involving Concord Pacific Ltd and a landowner company, should never have occurred."

He announced that a full court hearing on the project is scheduled for Friday.

Three Greenpeace activists who were strapped to the log ship Hua Yang’s cranes for 48 hours came down today. The ship was attempting to export logs at Umuda Island in the western part of the country.

Landowner communities, frustrated by the inaction of Papua New Guinea and international governments over the logging of their forests by the Malaysian company Concord Pacific, asked Greenpeace to help save their forest home, the international organization said. Landowners say the Kiunga-Aiambak logging project has bought them social, environmental and economic problems. After the Prime Minister’s condemnation of the logging operations, Concord Pacific towed its log barge away from the Hua Yang.

Bianca Havas, on board the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, said they successfully negotiated with a Concord Pacific official onboard Hua Yang to tow the log barge back to Umuda Island, on the condition the climbers got off the crane.

She said the official agreed and the climbers returned to the Arctic Sunrise and the log barge was moored at the island. Ship's officers agreed not to load timber from the Kiunga-Aiambak project until Friday.

Greenpeace volunteers will stand watch over the remaining logs until the court makes its ruling on the legality of the project.

The action began on Sunday when 11 Greenpeace activists from Australia stopped the export of what they called "illegally and destructively logged timber" from Papua New Guinea to China by preventing the loading of logs at Umuda Island.

Climbers from the Greenpeace vessel, the MV Arctic Sunrise blocked the crane of the log ship Hua Yang. Volunteers occupied the log barge and hung a banner reading "Ancient Forest Crime." Greenpeace says the logging is destroying the world’s third largest tropical ancient forest.

Greenpeace alleges that the Malaysian logging company Concord Pacific has "stolen" these logs from the local landowner communities in Papua New Guinea "with complete disregard for the environment and the well being of citizens."

Most of the logs are exported to China, Japan and Korea for the manufacture of furniture, flooring and cheap plywood.

"This is modern daylight robbery disguised as a development project," said Havas, Greenpeace Australia-Pacific forests campaigner. "It is a flagrant example of the ongoing destruction of ancient forests worldwide and the communities who depend on them for their livelihoods."

Prime Minister Morauta stated that the Acting Attorney-General will join the case in support of the Forest Authority, and that allegations of human rights abuses against resource owners would be investigated.

"This logging project will be one of the first operations to be examined under the forthcoming independent review of projects, and further extensions to this project will neither be permitted, nor valid, the Prime Minister said.

"We are pleased by these undertakings," said Greenpeace forest specialist, Brian Brunton. "But Greenpeace wants the Kiunga-Aiambak logs currently at Umuda Island to be seized by the government. They should be either returned to their rightful owners, or the logs sold by the Forest Authority and the monies received paid into a trust account pending final court proceedings."

The PNG Timber and Construction Workers Union is worried about jobs for its members if there is an interruption in logging of the country's forests. Today the union called on Greenpeace to "strike a balance" in its efforts to shut down the PNG timber industry.

Document last updated on Wednesday 01 August 2018

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