UPNG STUDENTS HAD HANDS ON THEIR HEADS WHEN SHOT: WITNESSES

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (August 27, 2001 – Post-Courier)---Two journalism students at the University of Papua New Guinea on Friday testified that they saw students put their hands on their heads before they were shot at.

Second year journalism students Stella Chung and Wanita Wakus were cross-examined after they read articles they compiled in the student newspaper Uni Tavur.

Ms. Wakus said on the morning of June 26, at around 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., she saw students walking towards where gunshots were coming from with their hands on their heads.

She said there was some commotion before she saw smoke cover the area where they were walking.

Ms. Wakus said she later heard gunfire and saw some of the students carrying others out of the smoke.

She said she did not hear any orders issued by any policemen but added they were dressed in dark blue uniforms.

Ms. Chung, who was standing on the fourth floor of a student residential hall called Tuluan, said she saw students walk towards police with their hands on their heads before they were shot at.

She said during gunfire earlier in the night she was shot at with what she believed was a rubber bullet because one of her arms was bruised and later became swollen.

A final year social work student Grace Wemin, recalling the night of June 25 outside Morauta Haus, said when she got there to spend the night, she saw policeman Geoffery Vaki talking to students and telling them they had 15 minutes to clear out.

Ms. Wemin said she walked up to Mr. Vaki and after introductions were made, she pleaded with him for more time to move the crowd and even asked that nothing be done until student leaders arrived.

However, she said Mr. Vaki had told her that he had run out of patience and that he had already given the crowd 10 minutes to move out.

Ms. Wemin said Mr. Vaki pointed to another policeman in glasses, saying that if he walked towards that policeman and others who were parked near the sports complex something would happen.

She said she unsuccessfully tried to move women students, mothers and children away from the front of the crowd.

Ms. Wemin said she was standing in front of a mother and her child who were selling something in an esky when three warning shots were fired into the air.

She said she did not run because she assumed the shots were just to warn members of the public.

However, she said a few seconds later a policeman who was about seven meters (about 23 feet) away from her pointed a teargas gun at her. Ms. Wemin said she ducked and heard a teargas canister fly overhead.

She said she ran towards the back of Morauta Haus and passed out before another student helped her.

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

Provided by Vikki John VIKKI@law.uts.edu.au" target="_blank">(VIKKI@law.uts.edu.au

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