PNG Cabinet Considers Options After Latest Round Of Uni Violence

Curfew, Defense Force call-up, ending the semester are options on the table

By GorethyKenneth

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, June 28, 2016) – Cabinet will meet today to decide whether there will be an immediate dawn to dusk curfew imposed at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby and Papua New Guinea University of Technology in Lae.

The meeting will be chaired by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to decide whether a call-out of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force is necessary in the event that this is required by police.

The third option of ending the academic year will not be entertained.

Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari said yesterday that the National Security Advisory Council has met and resolved to make a series of recommendations to the National Executive Council in relation to escalating law and order at the Port Moresby and Lae campuses, including the killing of a first year student at Unitech last Saturday night.

[PIR editor's note: On June 28, 2016 PNG Post-Courier reported that 'It will now cost the Government between K20 million–K25 million [US$6.3 - $7.9 million] to maintain extension of classes and rebuild and or fund the damages caused by the riots and arson at the three main State universities. ... These include the PNG University of Technology, University of PNG and the University of Goroka. ... Chief Secretary Isaac Lupari however said that the final report on all these state university damages and extension of the school year will be released once the state university hierarchy present all their findings.']

"The NSAC has made the following recommendations to the NEC, an immediate curfew is recommended to be imposed at the UPNG and Unitech so as to support police to restore law and order on the campuses.

"A call-out of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force is recommended in the event that this is required by police," Mr Lupari said. The advisory council recommended that police investigate the Unitech death, the destruction of property at both universities and arrest and charge the culprits.

"It is recommended that police conduct an investigation into the involvement of any people from outside of the universities who have been inciting and encouraging these criminal actions." Mr Lupari sounded a warning to individuals who are manipulating students from behind the scenes.

"The NSAC further warns members of civil society and political leaders that they have a responsibility to not incite student unrest. This conduct of incitement to violence will lead to prosecution by police under existing national laws and, where possible, referral to other relevant leadership bodies.

"The NSCA appeals for calm and commonsense. These matters have now become law and order issues and are no longer student issues. The role that needs to be played by civil society and political leaders should be one of encouraging calm and providing support to students who wish to complete their studies," he said.

"We are restoring normalcy to our campuses and we need commonsense to prevail."

Mr Lupari said that the National Security Advisory Council has condemned the killing of an innocent student and the destruction of property in Lae at the weekend as acts of barbarity by mindless individuals.

PNG Post-Courier
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PNG government would do well to remember Kent State killings in USA by National Guard in 1970.

It's sad to see that the only response from the government, when the students were complaining about corruption, is police action. What about consulting with student leaders, including staff and faculty perhaps? Students have already lost their lives at the hands of the police, and the chief investigator of corruption has himself apparently been arrested. Truly tragic.

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