PNG Post Courier

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (April 28, 2011) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), Provincial Administrator of Chimbu, Joe Kunda Naur, head of the Catholic Church, the biggest Christian Church in Chimbu, Bishop Anton Bal and Chimbu’s chief surgeon and number one healer, Father Jan Jaworski understand the problems related to the belief in sorcery.

For in their different capacities, they have dealt with the problem for many years and have seen the impact of this outdated belief, among the people of that central highlands province. They have been witness to the cost in human lives and the suffering inflicted on the innocent people that were accused of practicing sorcery.

They know that in any death, regardless of the nature or cause of the death, somebody or in some cases, a whole family, can be blamed for using sorcery to cause the death and the unfortunate person or persons usually end up being tortured and killed.

And the community would not lift a hand to help them for they either fear for their own lives or condone what was happening because they believed that was the right thing to do.

The attacks and killings related to sorcery have now become not only a serious law and order issue but a human rights issue, attracting global attention that something needs to be done to address the issue.

So when the late Member of Parliament (MP) for Kundiawa-Gembogl suddenly passed away over the long Easter weekend, there is already talk going around Chimbu that sorcery is responsible for the death.

Picking up on the rumors, Mr. Kunda Naur, Bishop Bal and Fr Jaworski appealed to their people not to blame sorcery for the death of the member.

Kunda Naur reported yesterday that it was quiet in Kundiawa but we do not know how the people will react when the body of the late member arrives in town on Tuesday. It is possible that claims of sorcery will surface again.

We support the call made by the provincial authorities in Chimbu because the belief in sorcery is outdated at this age and time, when all causes of deaths, sicknesses or injuries can be explained by science. We also support the call because the belief in sorcery is something the late member worked hard to eradicate in the communities.

As a member, the late Joe Mek Teine was a great advocate against sorcery on the floor of Parliament and he wanted the Government and Parliament to move swiftly to address the problem.

As Chairman of the Constitution and Law Reform Commission, he had already initiated a review of the Sorcery Act and was going around the country with his team to gauge the views of the people. He was expected to table a report in Parliament, recommending amendments to the laws on sorcery soon. It is expected that the Commission will finish the work without him.

For someone who was working to eradicate sorcery and its consequences, the late member will not want any of his people to bring sorcery into his death and use it as an excuse to cause harm to others.

The provincial authorities also fear that the small township of Kundiawa will be destroyed when the body arrives next week. We are told the police are on full alert to deal with anyone who wants to take advantage of the situation and create problems but again, none of that should happen.

For those who know the late MP, they will tell you that for the late Joe Mek Teine, there was no other place for him that was more precious that Kundiawa town. So for those that want to destroy the town, think again for the late leader would not approve of this.

We appeal to the Chimbu people to allow common sense to prevail at this time when they are mourning the death of their Member of Parliament. He would have wanted it that way.

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