Unitech ‘guarantees safety’ for students while UPNG now quiet

A Uniforce securit guard and a student on Waigani campus. Image: Loop PNG

By Rocky Issou and NauFM News

The Unitech administration in Papua New Guinea’s second city of Lae has condemned last week’s shooting by police of unarmed students at the University of PNG while all is quiet now at UPNG’s Waigani campus.

Unitech vice-chancellor Dr Albert Schram supported a call by the Catholic Bishops Conference to mediate in the conflict between the students – who have been campaigning for the resignation of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill – and the government in the coming months.

Dr Albert Schram-NauFMNews-500wide
Unitech vice-chancellor Dr Albert Schram … condemned the police shooting incident at UPNG. Image: NauFM News

Schram said Unitech shared the concerns of all parents of students in the country for the safety of their children at the UPNG campus.

Dr Schram has also assured parents of Unitech students that their students’ safety on campus is guaranteed.

He said the administration noted the widespread international condemnation of such acts of violence against students as well as from the Secretary General of the United Nations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

The situation at UPNG’s Waigani campus remained quiet with police continuing to maintain presence. Classes are due to resume on Tuesday.

According to a source within the university’s own campus security (Uniforce), almost 70 percent of the students had left the campus after the shooting incident with few remaining.

Dormitory security
The source revealed, that after the unrest on June 8, 20 male students remained on campus along with five females.

The Uniforce guards on duty grouped all twenty male students together in one male dormitory with the five women in a female dormitory in order to ensure their safety.

“Uniforce’s main concern is that we provide security for the staff and students and on campus property,” said the unnamed source.

This was made evident when they used their security vehicle to assist injured students to get to hospital.

However, he said that three Uniforce guards were assaulted when trying to assist a woman student who had fallen into a drain.

Loop PNG reported all was quiet in the Highlands city of Mt Hagen after rioting there followed the shooting incident in Port Moresby on Wednesday.

Rapa on the inquiry
UPNG’s Student Representative Council president Kenneth Rapa said the government should be a party and subject to the planned commission of inquiry.

Rapa was referring to the inquiry the government plans to carry out to find out the reasons behind the students’ prolonged unrest as well as identify their financiers.

“On behalf of the UPNG students, I embrace the decision of the government to form a commission of inquiry to investigate the issue,” he said in a statement.

However, the students would only accept the decision on the following terms:

  • The Commission of Inquiry must be conducted by an independent and impartial body.

“It must not be a government organisation, or an organisation that is affiliated with any institution of the Government. It can be headed by any of the following organisation; The Catholic Bishop Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands, the Commonwealth or the United Nations.”

  • The terms of the inquiry must be broadened to include:

An inquiry into why the referendum was not conducted; an inquiry into all the UPNG Senate’s and Council’s decision relating this issue since day one; an  inquiry into who ordered the indiscriminate police shooting; and an inquiry to establish whether the O’Neill-led government had breached human rights found in the National Constitution and the United Nations Charter on Human Rights.

Rapa also welcomed the initiative proposed by Fr Victor Roche of the Catholic Bishops Conference to mediate the tension between the government and the students.

“I salute the bravery and courage of each and every individual UPNG student, and students from other sister universities and secondary schools throughout the country, whom have given up their education and have stood up for what we all believe in,” Rapa said.

“Fighting for what is right and just is enforced by individual moral conscience. It is of a moral duty you and I as citizens owe to this God-given land of ours to protect and safeguard its tomorrow.”

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