Opportunists ransack Chinese shop in Buka

Opportunists have ransacked a Chinese shop on Buka, according to Autonomous Region of Bougainville police commander Francis Tokura.

He said they took advantage of concerns raised by tribal leaders about the commercialisation of a traditional Bougainville hat, known as upe.

Tokura said yesterday that tribal leaders from Wakunai in Central Bougainville were concerned that their sacred upe hat was being printed on thongs and clothing such as underwear and bras and sold by Chinese-owned Solmat Trading.

“They had come over to Buka Island on Friday to enquire with the shop owners on the commercialisation of the upe hat without their concern,” he said.

“However, opportunists took advantage of this situation and attempted to loot the shop.

“We quickly intervened and prevented the looting.

“After we had left, thinking that the situation had calmed down, the opportunists targeted another Chinese shop and completely ransacked it.

“It was sad because that Chinese-owned BCM Trading never sold any clothing items with the upe hat printed on it.”
Tokura said the upe hat was used by boys after going through the traditional manhood initial ceremony in the Aita area of Wakunai.

“That’s why it was a sensitive issue for the hat to be commercialised in such manner,” he said.

“We are now investigating who instigated the looting. We are also investigating where the clothing items were printed and shipped to Buka.”

Tokura also called on Government agencies to monitor business activities of foreign investors and advise them against the commercialisation of sacred items.

“Such looting would not have occurred if Government officers in relevant agencies had stopped the shopowners from selling clothing items with upe hats printed on them,” he said.

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