Riots break out in Papua New Guinea

24 March 2017 – The head of the Salvation Army in Papua New Guinea says riots that swept through the main streets of capital city Port Moresby on Friday caused “great devastation” to people who already had so little.

Territorial Commander Colonel Kelvin Alley said he watched on helplessly as vital community services like the supermarket, medical centre, dentist and chemist burnt to the ground.

“These places where people had jobs, jobs that were probably the only income to a large extended family. Gone,” he said in a statement on Friday.

“The street rumour is that the fire was started deliberately.

“If so, it is a crime against people who every day face the injustices of poverty and deprivation, who often seek out a living on the streets and markets, but who depend on these vital services.”

Col Alley said although the situation had eased, the city’s Boroko region had experienced “great devastation”.

“Now that calm has been restored, we are left with this terribly empty feeling due to the totally unnecessary loss and destruction of not just buildings, but buildings that represent vital services to people who desperately need them,” he said.

Col Alley described looting during the riots as “astounding”, with hundreds of people taking part in order to get their hands on free goods.

It’s unclear what prompted the riots.

Kathy Testh, who works at the Mapang Missionary Home a few blocks away from the riots, told AAP she woke up to the sound of gunshots.

Ms Testh said she drove to a meeting only to return to find the main roads cordoned off and being manned by armed guards, to stop more people entering the area.

Col Alley said several Salvation Army staff had taken ill after smoke inundated the buildings, located on the same street as the riots.

“Almost the entire business block across the road has been destroyed, unnecessarily by raging fires, rampant looting and out of control crowds,” he said.

He said the Salvation Army was committed to supporting the community to rebuild.

PNG: Police, students clash; 23 injured

8 June – Police in Papua New Guinea fired gunshots Wednesday to quell a student protest demanding the prime minister’s resignation, the government said. The country’s police commissioner said nearly two dozen people were injured, but denied reports that as many as four people were killed.

Students in the South Pacific nation have been demanding for weeks that Prime Minister Peter O’Neill resign because of alleged corruption and mismanagement.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she had been advised by the Australian embassy that police shot students in Port Moresby, the capital, as hundreds prepared to march from the University of Papua New Guinea to Parliament.

“I know that students have been shot, but we’re still trying to determine whether there have been deaths and how many have been injured,” Bishop told reporters. “We call on all sides to be calm and to de-escalate the tension and certainly call on all sides to respect the peaceful and lawful right to protest.”

Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that a Papua New Guinea lawmaker told Parliament that four students had been killed and seven wounded.

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PNG: Riot in Enga after student forum

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Student awareness forum in Goroka

31 May – A student leader in Papua New Guinea has claimed a riot in Enga province was started by members of the public who were attacked by Police.

The police said students sparked the riot.

The students have been protesting for a month while demanding the PNG Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, step down to face corruption allegations.

They’ve been promoting their demand around the country through an awareness campaign, which they brought to Wabag, the capital of Enga, last Thursday where the riot occured.

A student leader Youngsten Taliu Wally said more than fifteen thousand people had gathered in Wabag for the awareness forum when about a hundred members of the police force started firing tear gas.

“It was only provoked when the police tried to stop the students’ awareness. They fired tear gas and all these things to stop but they were outnumbered,” said Mr Wally.

“When all the police and people ran away the angry people got up and they stoned the BSP (Bank of South Pacific) building and the provincial centre building the Ipotas centre. Many shops around the town were destroyed and they were broken.”

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