Over 70 people rally in Sydney in support of PNG students
Over 70 people gathered outside the PNG Consulate in Sydney yesterday to show their solidarity with students in PNG. The event was held at 12.30pm.
Sydney-based Papua New Guineans were joined by students, academics, unionists and NGOs to call for an immediate stop to the repression and for student demands to be met.
“The recent event in Port Moresby between the University of Papua New Guinea students and the Royal Papua New Guinea constabulary (RPNGC) is uncalled for in any democratic nation,” stated Stanley Kumasimba Wamaware, a PNG student from the University of Sydney.
A five-week widespread peaceful student boycott, calling for PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to face corruption allegations that were brought by a range of official corruption squads, was brutally repressed on the morning of Wednesday, June 8. Unarmed students were shot at by police, resulting in some being hospitalised for severe injuries and many others wounded.
“What the police have done is against the constitutional and basic universal human rights of PNG citizens – that is the free will to express themselves without fear or intimidation. Like other democratic nations, the people have the right to hold their leaders accountable and that’s what the students are doing,” continued Wamaware.
“The high-powered guns and the military style demonstration shown by the police force represents a dictatorial policing.”
Natalie Lowrey, co-organiser of the solidarity action, said: “Further reports coming out from PNG have stated that some students have been forced into hiding in fear of further repression, others who are injured are too scared to go to the hospital for fear of arrest.
“Today we stand in solidarity with the vibrant and peaceful student movement in PNG. We support their demands for the rule of law and their call for Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to stand down.”
Kairuku/Hiri woman, who is now a Sydney resident, Jeanne Haurama, stated: “The world is watching how the institutions of State and government of PNG continues to treat its citizens. We cannot let this situation escalate into civil unrest.
“The students must be supported, they are the future leaders of PNG. If the students intended violence they would have done it five weeks ago but they didn’t.
“We demand Peter O’Neill to do the honourable thing, to step down and stop the escalation of violence!”
Other speakers included Mick Doleman, International Executive Officer from the Maritime International Federation; Dylan Griffiths, Education Officer, Students Representative Council, University of Sydney; and Katie Hepworth, Pacific Officer, Union Aid Abroad-APHEDA.
NGO donates K4,000 to injured students
Papua New Guineans continue to open their hearts to the injured University of Papua New Guinea students.
Non-governmental organisation (NGO), Partners with Melanesians Inc, yesterday gave K4,000 to meet the hospital cost of the four students still admitted at the Port Moresby General Hospital internal care unit.
Activist Noel Anjo said: “The money is from the public appeal. Not from a politician or any political parties.”
The students will get K1,000 each to foot their medical bills.
Tommy Aiyok, representing the guardians of the injured students, thanked the kind-hearted people who donated.
He said the four students are not Port Moresby based, and they do not have resources to support them.
“I appeal to the public to pray for the injured students who are still in critical conditions,” Aiyok said.
Former student dedicates poem to UPNG
The violent confrontation between police and the University of Papua New Guinea students on Wednesday brought shock and grief to the nation.
Parents, families and relatives desperately clung to their phones, praying that the next call would confirm that their children are safe. Friends and loved ones waited with bated breaths, struggling to put on a brave front while their hearts were already bleeding out.
Among them was former UPNG biology student Bruce Horick, who lives in Lae, Morobe Province. Their world came to a standstill while students in Port Moresby ran for their lives.
Horick, who graduated in 2013, put pen to paper to express the heartache he felt.
“I wrote the poem on Wednesday as soon as I heard of the shootings,” he told Loop PNG this morning. “The poem itself took about 10 minutes, but I wrote it after an hour of weeping my heart out for the students.
“I guess I just couldn’t understand why the policemen could do that, and that made me write it.”
I Fight For You Too
I fight for you too
My brother in blue
Cold metal in your hand
For your future too I stand
I bleed for you too
Friend in combat shoes
That our kids may grow strong
And joy will be their song
I die for you too
Comrade in sky hue
As you aim death towards me
I’m fighting to set you free
I mourn for you too
My wantok trutru
You follow orders from above
Mine’s from patriotic love
I plead for you too
Brother cop, yes you
Our leaders have misled us
And stepped us into the dust
Would you stand with me too?
My blood in navy blue
Reach out and hold my hand
And let us take back our land