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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 29) – Young people from East coast villages in Aitape, West Sepik province, suspected of illegal activities, were rounded up by police and law enforcement agencies during the independence weekend.

The move to clean up the East Coast was initiated by local Member of Parliament and Minister for Forests, Patrick Pruaitch, who made his intentions known in his independence speech to his Aitape Lumi people.

[PIR editor’s note: Aitape is a coastal town in West Sepik, in northwest Papua New Guinea, bordering the Indonesian province of Papua. ]

The young men were rounded up and paraded in front of their communities. They were suspected of producing home brew, taking and trading marijuana and being involved in other illegal activities.

Most of the youths who surrendered also swore to the Bible to stay away from these bad habits for good.

Mr Pruaitch said it has always been his intention to bring development to the people of Aitape and Lumi.

"However, the people were not ready," he said, referring to the continuous destruction of agriculture and other facilities. "I cannot bring development to a sick community. People must respect one and other and the law of this land."

Instead of being handed over to the local authorities, the youths were given a good lecture by the minister and law enforcement officers on law and order. Later, they were ordered to do community service work by patching up the village roads and other activities.

September 30, 2005

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