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Anti-corruption activist defies authorities

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 23 , 2010) – Police have gone on alert in Port Moresby, the Highlands and Mamose today to stop a protest march by non-governmental organisations this morning.

The protest, to be led Noel Anjo and his associates in Port Moresby, was stopped by the Police Commissioner Gari Baki but Anjo has said it will go ahead as planned and late yesterday he was seen mobilising public support for the protest march to Parliament.

[PIR editor’s note: Noel Anjo Kolao is a former student activist and anti-corruption campaigner who was arrested last year at a Port Moresby rally for allegedly saying Prime Minister Alan Somare deserved a bullet in his head for building a private empire while the nation suffered in neglect. ]

Provincial police commanders in Mamose and the Highlands have appealed to the general public to refrain from taking part in the march which will be deemed illegal if it eventuates.

In Goroka yesterday, police and leaders drove around town warning activists not to stage any protest march in Goroka and Kainantu towns and along the Highlands Highway.

They warned those who refuse to heed the warning would be dealt with, including Anjo or his agents if they appear in Goroka.

Provincial police commander Augustine Wampe said policemen would be out in full force in Goroka, Kainantu and along the Highlands Highway today. Police Commissioner Gari Baki on Tuesday stopped the protest after the incidents in Kainantu and Goroka where millions of kina were lost as a result of rampage and looting by youths, believed related to the proposed protest by Anjo and his group.

In Port Moresby, NCD Metropolitan Commander Fred Yakasa said yesterday police and the Peace and Good Order Committee in the nation’s capital had reviewed their stand and have stopped the march because it was not in the interest of public safety.

"The committee comprising the Governor, city manager and myself after a lengthy discussion has refused the request by Noel Anjo and his group to stage the protest tomorrow.

"While many of the issues raised are good for the silent majority, the committee felt that the experience in Eastern Highlands Province, ex-servicemen’s outstanding issues in the city and many more, we have decided to refuse their request," said Mr Yakasa.

And he has appealed to the public to refrain from participating in the protest which will be deemed unlawful.

"I urge the general public not to take part in the protest and I appeal to the leaders of the protest to take their petition and deliver it to whoever that has been invited to receive the petition by themselves and maybe the media instead of a huge number of people in which opportunists might use it to cause trouble," said Mr Yakasa.

He said they had a very good working relationship with activists in the city and he had appealed to the leaders to understand the position of the committee.

"A letter has been written to Mr Anjo and his group informing them of our decision to stop the protest march," said Mr Yakasa.

Word has gone to businesses in the city as well as in Lae, Madang, and the Highlands to be on alert also in case the protest spill over and they become targets of the protestors, mainly opportunists who would want to smash buildings and loot shops.

"It (protest march) is scheduled to start between 0900 and 1000 from the Jack Pidik Park and / or Unagi Park in Boroko. They will then march to the Parliament building, route unknown. Although no violence is expected, all safety precautions should be taken and the above areas avoided.

"All travel should be kept to a minimal too," Shane Clayton, Client Relation Manager of security firm, G4S Secure Solutions (PNG) Ltd informed clients yesterday.

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