By Hane Toua
A few colleagues and I spent most of the day at Unagi Oval to find out what was happening with regards to the protest march/demonstration today. Here is a brief summary of today’s events:
- People started gathering as early as 9am to prepare themselves for the walk to Morauta House. The Police were out there in full force to monitor the situation. While Noel Anjo was addressing the crowd 200 + people, Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Jim Andrews and some other police officers pulled the loud hailer from him and started telling everyone to go home and that there was no march. They threatened all present to leave or be arrested. The public did not back down and instead offered themselves to be arrested. What followed was a debate between the public and police force with the public repeatedly talking about their constitutional right to demonstrate and the Police pleading for the public to go home and let the courts solve the matter. The Police eventually backed away and it turned into a forum where people openly aired their views.
- Acting Metropolitan Superintendent Perou Ndranou then turned up gave approval for the protest march to go ahead. After Perou’s approval, students from the University of Papua New Guinea turned up in 12 PMV buses. By lunch time the size of the crowd had increased to about 5000+ people. Acting Deputy Police Commissioner Jim Andrews then overruled Supt. Ndranou’s approval and stopped the protest march. The police then moved out of Unagi Oval and blocked off the streets surrounding Unagi Oval, with heavy police presence along Kennedy Road, Geauta Road and Independence Drive. The public was allowed to hold a bigger forum and used the opportunity to discuss the way forward. After many speeches and expression of different viewpoints, it was agreed that a verbal petition be presented to the Police Minister (Robert Atiyafah). This petition was backed by the churches, university students, provincial reps, youth reps, women reps and other groups.
- These were the demands on the petition:
1.PM must surrender to police for questioning
2. PM must resign.
3. NEC to reinstate Sam Koim and TFS.
4. All police officers sacked due to this crises be reinstated.
5. Kerega Kua to be provided a remedial action for his unjust sacking
- The PM is being given 24 hours to act on these demands. If he doesn’t act the public agreed for a nationwide protest to take place on Thursday.
- All in all, it was a good demonstration
Even though the original outcome of the protest march was not achieved, the Police Minister did turn up to hear the voice of the people.
Ms. Hane Toua
Events & Outreach Programme Manager