The Guardian July 11, 2001


Papua New Guinea students call for solidarity and support

An atmosphere of fear remains in Port Moresby following the brutal and 
totally unjustified shooting of peacefully protesting students two weeks 
ago. Five students and several other innocent civilians were killed and 
many more injured. According to information received last week, 17 of the 
injured were in intensive care. Students have taken sanctuary on the 
university campus, fearing to go out onto the streets where the armed 
special police who shot at them remain.

The students were protesting against privatisation and other IMF and World 
Bank policies, in particular the proposed privatisation of the state-owned 
bank, due on June 22.

The students had been on the streets for a week, educating the public about 
the corporate policies of the IMF and World Bank, when special police were 
brought in to disperse them on Monday night, June 25.

The students had the support of local police and the public.

The force used by the special police was unreasonable and not in self-
defence, one of the students told a press conference in Sydney last week.

The police opened fire on the unarmed, peaceful students, and a long battle 
followed through to the early hours of Tuesday morning. The students were 
forced back two kilometres onto the university campus, where they remain, 
in fear for their lives.

A solidarity rally was held in Sydney on July 7. The Australian 
Manufacturing Workers' Union is looking at what support it can give the PNG 
trade unions and has expressed solidarity with the students.

Powes Parkop, writing on behalf of the Anti-Privatisation Alliance and 
others fighting the World Bank/IMF program in PNG, extended gratitude to 
all those in Australia for their solidarity, support and sympathy and 
explained the struggle going on in PNG. He said:

Since 1993/1994 when we began the campaign against the corporate take over 
of Papua New Guinea (PNG) by the World Bank/IMF, the struggle has been long 
and bitter. And as recent events have revealed, it has also been bloody, 
with our students paying with their lives.

Let there be no mistake. While the police in Papua New Guinea pulled the 
trigger, Alexander Downer and John Howard are responsible for the death of 
our students as they are the ones who have insisted and demanded that the 
Government of PNG implements the World Bank/IMF program despite the 
consistent and massive opposition of our people. They are the ones who are 
also supplying the technical "expertise" to train and turn the police in 
Papua New Guinea into brutal and vicious murderers.

While we are in sorrow and mourning for the death of our students, your 
acts of solidarity and moral support have and will contribute to easing the 
pain that we are feeling at this moment. We know that we are not alone and 
that the struggle is common and that the death of our students will not be 
in vain.

While we are all saddened by the loss of our students, we know that the 
campaign and struggle against World Bank/IMF program in Papua New Guinea 
must continue as it provides the only hope for a better future for the 
people of Papua New Guinea.

We know that the World Bank/IMF program cannot solve the problems in Papua 
New Guinea as it has failed to improve the lives of our people even though 
the country has been subjected to these programs since 1991. Nothing has 
improved since.

We know too, that while we are acting at local level to counter the take-
over and domination of our lives by the World Bank/IMF, our struggle and 
campaign is the same campaign being waged all over the world by those of 
you, who like us, are opposed to the take-over and domination of our world 
by multi-national and transnational corporations.

We therefore call on you, all our friends and comrades, to continue the 
anti-globalisation struggle as it is the only way to build a better future 
for our common world.

To effectively support us in our campaign and struggle we call on you all 
to continue the campaign and acts of solidarity and to demand that the 
Australian Government undertake the following actions:

1. Apologise and offer condolence for the death of the students.

2. Suspend its technical and financial support to the Royal Papua New 
Guinea Police until there have been very serious steps undertaken to stop 
the brutality and killings committed by the Police Force. All funds 
provided to assist the Police in PNG should be diverted to fund and support 
community initiatives to prevent crime and rehabilitate criminals.

3. Insist that a Royal Commission of Inquiry is held into the death of the 
four students. (A coronial inquest will be inadequate in the 
circumstances.)

4. End, suspend or otherwise slow down the implementation of the Structural 
Adjustment Program in Papua New Guinea, especially the Privatisation 
Program.

5. Increase funding to health and education in Papua New Guinea, including 
university education.

6. That AusAid seriously engages members of the Anti-Privatisation Alliance 
and the civil society generally to address issues of development, crime, 
poverty and other social/economic issues in Papua New Guinea.

* * *
Messages of solidarity can be sent to: Powes Parkop, General Secretary MELANESIAN SOLIDARITY GROUP For Justice & Dignity,
PO Box 71, UNIVERSITY, NCD, Papua New Guinea
Phone: (675) 3261227 Facsimile (675) 3230887.

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