DEATH TOLL FROM PNG'S STUDENT VIOLENCE RISES TO FOUR

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (July 2, 2001 – Radio Australia)---The death toll from last week's violence in the Papua New Guinea capital, Port Moresby, has risen to four.

Radio Australia correspondent Richard Dinnen reports that the four were killed during an attack on the University of Papua New Guinea by heavily armed police.

"A police squad stormed the campus in Port Moresby on Tuesday morning after earlier breaking up a protest outside nearby government buildings.

"Three students were killed and a fourth has now died.

"Several more are still receiving medical treatment.

"Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta has met relatives of the dead, receiving a demand for compensation from the government and the Students' Representative Council, which organized the protest.

"After meeting the mourning relatives, Prime Minister Morauta said he would defer announcing terms of reference for a Commission of Inquiry in order to allow time to consider the concerns raised by the relatives.

"The situation in Port Moresby remains calm. An overnight curfew is in effect but maybe lifted ahead of the planned date of July 10th.

"Richard Dinnen, Radio Australia, Port Moresby."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

 

OPPOSITION WANTS PNG PARLIAMENT RECALLED TO ADDRESS UNREST

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (June 28, 2001 - The Independent)--The opposition has beckoned Prime Minister Sir Mekere Morauta to recall Parliament so that the current crisis confronting the nation can be resolved, as it believes only Parliament can sort this out.

Acting leader Jacob Wama told a news conference that the government has demonstrated that it is not capable of diffusing the issue and it is time to recall Parliament so that the matter is addressed.

"We in the opposition believe that there is no way we can calm the tension that exists here in the nation’s capital except for a collective approach from the nation's leaders, and that is Parliament," said Mr. Wama.

"It is very unfortunate that what began as a peaceful protest has now ended up in a number of deaths and several in serious condition from pellet wounds," he said.

Mr. Wama said the prime minister must shoulder all the blame because of his irresponsible and arrogant attitude and no sense of respect for ordinary Papua New Guineans.

He said this was the first time in the history of the country where a peaceful protest march has turned into bloodshed and the loss of lives.

"The situation has reached a stage where we have no respect for government authority. At the same time law enforcers have shown no respect for human lives. The prime minister must recall Parliament and he must do it immediately," said Mr. Wama.

He added that what should be clearly explained is how the gunshots were fired when the police had a clear understanding with the crowd in the past few days.

Mr. Wama said the officer who gave orders for the police to fire should explain the grounds that necessitated the need for police to open fire, and especially in the morning.

"I don’t think police were in a life threatening situation where they had to resort to firing. For the past five days the crowd had behaved in an orderly manner -- and what was the justification to shoot at the public?" asked Mr. Wama.

He added that it was a bad precedent that blood had to be shed by innocent students because never before in the history of country did deaths occur out of such protests.

Mr. Wama also called on the prime minister to set up a commission of enquiry into the episode so that the real truth behind all the unanswered questions can be answered.

"I therefore call on the prime minister to immediately call a meeting with the National Security Council or the National Executive Council to advise the Governor General to recall Parliament immediately," said Mr. Wama.

Mr. Wama said he had spoken to many MPs both in the opposition and the government benches and many have expressed their discontent over the death of the students.

He said many MPs were saddened that the lives of innocent students had to end in such tragic circumstances and they felt the recalling of Parliament should be in the best interest of the country and the masses.

"Many have expressed their sympathy to the way the deaths occurred and want the Parliament to be recalled," said Mr. Wama.

For additional reports from The Independent, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Independent (Papua New Guinea).

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