Prime Minister supports Greenpeace in PNG

Press release - 15 May, 2002

Tropical forest in the Pacific.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta has joined Greenpeace in condemning the destructive Kiunga Aiambak logging project.

Greenpeace activists, supported by the MV Arctic Sunrise, are maintaining their vigil preventing the loading of illegal timber off remote Umuda Island in Western PNG.

Yesterday Sir Mekere released an official statement saying, "the Kiunga-Aiambak project, involving Concord Pacific Ltd and a landowner company, should never have occurred."

Sir Mekere also said:

- A full court hearing scheduled for the end of the week will determine whether the Forest Authority can take action against the Kiunga Aiambak project; - The Acting Attorney-General will join the case in support of the Forest Authority; Allegationsof human rights abuses against resource owners would be investigated; and

- The logging project will be one of the first operations to be examined under the forthcoming independent review of projects; Furtherextensions to this logging project will neither be permitted, nor valid.

"We are pleased by these undertakings. But Greenpeace wants the Kiunga Aiambak logs currently at Umuda Island to be seized by the government. They should either be 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" said Greenpeace forest specialist, Brian Brunton.

Overnight Malaysian logging company Concord Pacific towed the log barge away from the MV Hua Yang after the Prime Minister´s condemnation of the logging operations. Australian Greenpeace climbers left the ship´s cranes more than 48 hours after they began their protest.

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

The Greenpeace activity began on Sunday afternoon, when volunteers boarded the MV Hua Yang, which was loading Kiunga Aiambak logs to take to China. Most of the logs are exported to China, Japan and Korea, where they are used to make furniture, flooring and cheap plywood.

Landowners say the Kiunga Aiambak logging project has caused them social, environmental and economic problems.