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.

Continue reading “PNG: Police, students clash; 23 injured”

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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.”

Continue reading “PNG: Riot in Enga after student forum”

Melbourne: Police and Protesters Clash Outside Liberal Party Dinner

8 April – Police have used capsicum spray on protesters outside a Liberal Party dinner to mark the 20th anniversary of the election of John Howard’s government.

However, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is suspected to have avoided the skirmish in Melbourne’s Docklands by arriving by boat and entering the back of Shed 14 behind a police line.

About 150 people gathered outside the Central Pier function venue about 6pm on Friday to protest the federal government’s changes to higher education and the treatment of asylum seekers.

Students, unionists and refugee activists held placards and chanted slogans such as “No ifs, no buts, no education cuts.”

The demonstrators scuffled with police, including about 50 uniformed officers, as well as five mounted police and some Australian Federal Police.

The protesters yelled “scum” and “shame” at guests and jostled them as they arrived at the venue and were ushered around the rear of the venue by security guards.

Some of the building’s windows were broken, with officers using pepper spray on about 20 people, including an ABC cameraman.

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Adelaide: Cory Bernardi’s office trashed

The mess the protesters left in the Senator’s reception area. Picture: Mark Brake

18 March – 18 March – The “full force of the law” should be brought to bear on protesters who trashed Senator Cory Bernardi’s office and targeted his children’s school, he says.

The university students and high-school pupils, who were protesting against his opposition to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program and ongoing debate about same-sex marriage, engaged in abuse, vandalism and threats.

Student protesters left graffiti and rubbish strewn about in Senator Cory Bernardi’s Kent Town office in Adelaide.

Both Flinders and Adelaide universities released statements condemning the action.

Branding the protesters “a bunch of cowards”, Senator Bernardi labelled the fracas a form of intolerance and intimidation that only “strengthened his resolve”.

He said: “They also headed down to my children’s school and sought to target it as well. They had to lock gates and take other preventive measures.

“If peaceful protests turn into violent and damaging protests the people responsible for that need to be held to account.

“I’m happy for the full force of the law to be brought upon those who’ve done property damage and threatened my staff.”

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Brisbane: Students occupy Peter Dutton’s Office

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12 Feb – Early Friday morning in Brisbane, university and TAFE students occupied federal immigration minister Peter Dutton’s office.

Sitting in the cramped public space, we chanted: “Say it loud, say it clear! Refugees are welcome here!”.

Behind the locked doors, Dutton was nowhere to be seen.

Framed in the foyer are numerous awards and messages, including a mental health awareness poster. Lauren Saunders, NUS Women’s Officer for Queensland pointed out the irony:

“Many of the asylum seekers are here in Australia to be treated for the psychological trauma they have suffered on Nauru – and now they are being sent back to an island camp which is not fit for human beings.”

She indicated to a number of framed children’s drawings on the walls of Dutton’s office. “We can see a giraffe and bicycles here. Meanwhile children locked in detention are drawing pictures of themselves committing suicide.”

After two hours, media arrived. When one of our representatives stepped outside to speak with them, 14 police clamped down on the occupation.

A follow up action took place in King George Square at 5pm to demand the government #letthemstay.

The protest coincides with another action in Sydney this morning where activists have placed 37 cribs along Bondi Beach to symbolise the 37 babies facing removal.

 

PNG: Protesting students ordered to return to class

2 Sept – Students at Goroka University in Papua New Guinea have been given until next Monday to return to classes after weeks of boycotts.

The Minister for Higher Education, Malakai Tabar, has this week suspended the vice chancellor Dr Gairo Onagi, a move the students had been demanding.

The minister also dismissed the university council after deciding it had not fulfilled its role.

A Higher Education Department official, Charles Mabia, says an interim council has been put in place and students have been given an ultimatum to return to class.

“The Minister is now calling on the students to return back to classes on the 7th of September. See, if they don’t return to classes the university may not see the completion of the academic year successfully.”

More than three weeks of protests culminated last week in a street march in Goroka by a group of 1,000 students.

Police, who say the march was illegal, fired into the students to disperse them.

Students gather at the University of Goroka

Earlier this year, on August 28 police shot and wounded two students at the University of Goroka during protests over the resignation of the university’s vice chancellor.

The provincial police commander, Superintendent John Kale, had claimed that the protest was illegal and police set up a road block to stop it from progressing.

Mr Kale says stones were thrown at officers, who then discharged their firearms at the crowd.

Long-time resident Sarah Shelley said the large crowd of students were chanting “no VC no UNI” and that as soon as the group made its way to the Post Office there were met by police.

“Police and protestors started clashing. Then police opened fire to disperse the crowd.”

She said this lasted between 15 to 20 minutes and the crowd retreated to the campus.”

“It was intense and there was a lot of gunfire,” she added.

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Campus property was damaged by angry students who say they will continue the protest until the Vice Chancellor Dr Gairo is removed.

Images posted on Facebook showed damage to the campus, including broken windows and kitchen appliances on fire.

Two students were shot and taken to hospital.

A smashed fixtures is seen at the University of Goroka

Melbourne: Protesters disrupt Pyne’s Vic book launch

31 July – Student protesters smashed a glass door panel in an attempt to storm a building where federal Education Minister Christopher Pyne was launching his new book.

They also blockaded the doors of the Docklands building, stopping some from entering the event, which was delayed for about 30 minutes until police regained control.

A beatbox blared music throughout the scuffle as the group of about 100 demonstrators, who were protesting against cuts to higher education funding, chanted slogans such as “no ifs, no buts, no education cuts”.

“I’d like to welcome those who made it through,” Mr Pyne told the audience on Friday night.

“We’re about two-thirds the number that RSVP-ed, so sadly I think about a third of the people who wanted to come couldn’t get through.

The National Union of Students organised the protest to express its opposition to the deregulation of university fees.

Members shouted “No cuts, no fees, no corporate universities” and jostled with police.

Demonstrators clash with police outside NAB headquarters in Melbourne's Docklands.

One female protester was arrested and charged with assaulting police, while three police officers were treated for minor injuries.

Victorian Liberal Party president Michael Kroger launched Mr Pyne’s book, A Letter to My Children, as Prime Minister Tony Abbott had to pull out.

The clean-up following the protest at the book launch of Christopher Pyne's new book.