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Student killed, buildings torched in savage Unitech attack

Destruction at UnitechKEITH JACKSON

A STUDENT was killed and buildings set on fire at the University of Technology in Lae in a violent attack last night.

Vice-chancellor Albert Schram said that at around 10pm a group of men armed with bush knives attacked a dormitory with a student later dying from his wounds.

“Subsequently a group of marauders set fire to various academic buildings,” Prof Schram said.

“The power supply was cut off and the telephone network went down.”  

Police reinforcements were deployed by around 2am but were outnumbered by attackers who were moving freely around the campus setting fire to many buildings.

Albert Schram May 2014In a joint effort with university security personnel, police finally dispersed the attackers using tear gas.

The campus is now sealed and students are being evacuated.

Alternative arrangements for the university to resume activities have yet to be announced.

It is not yet known what motivated the violence but Prof Scram says it is believed to be a targeted attack.


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Daniel Kumbon

The killing of the innocent Unitech student from Wakwak village near Mendi town has affected operations at the Mendi School of Nursing.

Mendi Police acted swiftly to escort Enga nursing students home up the Kandep-Mendi Road. It was reported senior public servants who have lived in the Southern Highlands capital for many years lost all their property.

Some wise and concerned local leaders from Mendi came to Kandep town over the weekend to warn Enga people not to come to Mendi until such time when the situation comes under control.

Francis Nii

I don't think violence and destruction are the right ways to achieve results in the current issue or in any other issue when peaceful protest options have not been exhausted, for example, hunger strikes.

Why don't students in each of the universities gather in a central square like the forum area, sit there and refuse food and water.

Destroying university facilities and sabotaging the highway will not affect O'Neill and his family. They will be laughing away in the Gold Coast or Cayman Islands while we ordinary Papua New Guineans will suffer greatly from these actions.

Students have already made sacrifices by boycotting classes and getting shot by police and I don't feel comfortable to advocate further sacrifices but conceding defeat is something I refuse to swallow.

Why don't student leaders regroup and go on a hunger strike or take the Ghandi and Mandela approach?

Lindsay F Bond

Along with any statement of facts, can there be added to this website the name of the person reported as killed, home place, program of studies if a student, status in program and maybe social association(s) if any.

Eventually perpetrators of malicious acts might be identified, and possibly even verified by credible sources.

PNG Attitude is a project of its readers, Lindsay. Perhaps you could followup this matter - KJ

Mathias Kin

The students feel they are the true voices for the 80% of rural illiterates, patriots and true nationalists. They even die as martyrs.

They feel, for all their gallant efforts this far, they have not achieved their one paramount objective; that the PM step aside.

The students now feel defeated, let down and their voices not heard by the government. The opposition is of no help, the courts too slow, the police shot at them, the university administration - supposed to be guardians in place of their parents - are siding with the Peter O’Neill.

The students may feel the society of PNG has let them down. They are desperate and will continue, through whatever means possible, to be heard.

From here as far as I can read from all these events unfolding, other forces have entered into the mix; opportunists, criminals, arsonists, politicians and maybe others.

I believe the worse is yet to come, something I heard discussed among the people at a forum we conducted on the same issue last month in Kundiawa.

The highlands highway runs for more than 1,000 kilometres from Lae and Madang to Komo in Tari, Hela and to Pogera in Enga.

Millions of kina worth of goods are transported up and down this road. The most active and prominent of the students from the three universities are from the six highlands provinces. Many of these students live along this vital road. They could sabotage this most important road.

Now don’t accuse me of putting action into any students’ ears but this is a more probable option they will take if they see that they have no other opportunity.

If this ever takes place, it will cripple the nation. There has been talk in the kunai grass since the protests got out of hand and students started carrying out awareness campaigns in the provinces.

The only option now is for Peter O’Neill to step aside. If this does not happen, I believe we will see the worst and this country will be brought to its knees.

Philip Fitzpatrick

I'm with Robin on this one Paul. I suspect that it was a set up of some sort. Just the thing O'Neill was accusing the students of doing. Perhaps it's another of his Mugabe moments. But best to wait for the facts though.

Martyn Namorong's sage advice that the students should abandon UPNG and Unitech and go home to campaign against O'Neill is wise. As he said, staying on campus is just too dangerous in the present circumstances.

Francis Nii

It will be interesting to know the motive behind it and who exactly were involved but taking the life of another human being and destroying the assets belonging to the people of PNG is the work of a psychopath and is punishable.

Peter Kranz

PM O'Neill offers condolences, talks darkly about 'outside influences' inflaming students, then says a curfew will be imposed.

Albert Schram points out that a curfew has been in place at UniTech since June 13th.

Now just who is the PM's media adviser?

Robin Lillicrapp

There was a need to discredit the student protest from government perspective. Maybe this incident was staged for that purpose.

If the malefactors were indeed "fair dinkum" students, a pox on their houses for disservice to the cause.

Paul Oates

Phil, One can also theorize that this violence might also have been 'targeted' in an attempt to retaliate for the student demonstrations. I wonder if the student killed was just an innocent bystander and what was the purpose of the riot in the first place?

If the police were outnumbered exactly who were they outnumbered by?

Tellingly, the police this time only used rubber bullets and tear gas, not live ammunition. So has something at least been learnt from the Moresby shooting?

Finally, who issued live ammunition and who ordered or allowed live ammunition to be fired in Moresby. If we ever find that out it will be very surprising.

Philip Fitzpatrick

This sort of behaviour is playing into the hands of Peter O'Neill and his spin doctors. It's great fodder for the inquiry due to be held.

It also destroys the credibility of the student's protests. All the effort that they have put in to date, including some of them getting badly injured, has been tarnished.

It's a pity that Gandhi's 'ahimsa', the politics of non-violence is not taught in universities any more.

Paul Oates

Francis, the people who did this were primarily criminals but the circumstances that led to this and many other senseless acts of destruction are also to blame.

When young people are given no opportunity to strive for a a better life and no vision of how they can work towards improving their situation they naturally enough turn their frustration into violent acts.

What these acts of violence and arson indicate is a breakdown in society. The political leaders who will now claim these acts on 'rascols' and criminals are seeking to absolve themselves of any blame.

Until and unless ordinary people demand a better society and a better quality of leaders who can lead society in a better direction, the situation will only get worse. Why? Because nothing is being done now to change the circumstances of the past that led to this happening today.

In fact, those who are ultimately responsible clearly are either unable or unwilling to accept any responsibility and like the PM and Mr Lupari, seek to blame others, anyone really, except themselves.

It takes a really 'bigman' to accept they have made a mistake and to correct it or at least ask for advice.

So what will the Australian government say when the situation gets worse? Well the answer was presented to us immediately after the students being shot. 'We asked if they wanted help and were told they didn't!'

Francis Nii

Very sad.

Police must swiftly investigate and bring the culprits responsible be they students or outsiders to face the law. This kind of malicious behavior is an attribute of insane animals and not humans.

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