Students blame UPNG building blaze on clash ‘spillover’

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When EMTV News arrived at the UPNG main campus yesterday, students were armed with bush knives, stones, sticks and metal bars as they chased Uniforce security personnel and their vehicles. Five vehicles were set alight, Vasinatta Yama reports.

By Carmella Gware in Port Moresby

The burning of the University of Papua New Guinea’s Uni Venture building today was a spillover from yesterday’s confrontation.

A student leader told Loop PNG that students were still frustrated following the shooting of their colleagues on June 8.

“In the history of UPNG, we successfully held the most non-violent protest for the last eight weeks,” said the student leader, who declined to be named.

He said the students had displayed maturity, professionalism, diplomacy and most importantly, and patriotism in their long-running protest.

“Instead of working with the students and bringing peace after allowing the police to come in and shoot unarmed students, they send the Uniforce to harass them.”

-Partners-

Chewing betelnut
According to the student leader, yesterday a group of male students were chewing betelnut and discussing Wednesday’s State of Origin second game when Uniforce stopped there and allegedly swore at the crowd.

They tried to dismiss the crowd that they believed was a group that was stopping a few science students from attending classes.

The students did not take kindly to being sworn at, which resulted in the altercation yesterday that left behind five burnt vehicles and a couple of damaged buildings.

“The UPNG SRC and provincial leaders engaged the Catholic Bishops Conference, Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, the UN and the UPNG Chaplin Service to negotiate between the students and administration to bring normalcy and peace,” the student leader said.

No reconciliation
However, the reconciliation, which was supposed to happen yesterday, did not eventuate due to the fight.

“The UPNG administration needs to come down and address this issue,” he said.

Students will only go to class after the administration makes peace with them, he explained.

Carmella Gware reports for Loop PNG News.

Two of the burn-out cars from yesterday's clash on the University of Papua New Guinea's Waigani campus. Image: Citizen Journalist
Two of the burnt-out cars from yesterday’s clash on the University of Papua New Guinea’s Waigani campus. Image: Citizen Journalist
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