UPNG students still not back in class

5:21 pm on 16 June 2016

A student leader at the University of Papua New Guinea said students chose not to attend classes yesterday out of respect for those hurt by police during last week's unrest.

UPNG student rally at the Waigani Campus.

An earlier UPNG student rally at Waigani Campus. Photo: UPNG4PNG

More than 20 people were injured, four of them seriously, after police opened fire on the protesting students as they tried to leave the campus.

The student leader Henry Norrie-Maim said students are free to resume classes but yesterday they chose to stay away.

"The lecture rooms are open for us to go to school and also the staff are on campus, but it's the students themselves that due to our traditions and customs as embedded in our constitution, most of us don't want to go to classes while our friends that took bullets are suffering in the hospital and recovering."

"We are not intimidated or anything, it's just that out of respect and concern we are not attending classes. But we sure can attend classes on our own free will," he said.

Henry Norrie-Maim said some students have observed a customary mourning ritual by covering themselves in mud and parading around the campus.

Back in court

The National Court in Papua New Guinea has denied an application to prevent the arrest of the student leader Kenneth Rapa.

The Post Courier reports that Justice Derek Hartshorn dismissed the application on Tuesday, along with another that sought the removal of police from the University of PNG's Waigani and Taurama campuses.

The applications were filed by the lawyer, Laken Kepatu Aigilo, who is providing free legal assistance to the University's Student Representative Council, of which Mr Rapa is the President.

The Judge also dismissed a third application filed by Mr Aigilo for the court to declare the police action of June the 8th unconstitutional.

On that day, Police injured more than 20 people when they opened fire on protesting students, who were trying to leave the Waigani campus to rally at Parliament in support of a no-confidence motion in the government.

"Our fight for justice is not over," said Mr Aigilo after his applications were denied.

He had asked the court to summon the Police Commissioner, Gari Baki, the Central Province and Port Moresby police commander, Sylvester Kalaut, and the metropolitan police chief, Ben Turi, to explain who gave the order for the shooting.

Mr Aigola's third application sought a court declaration that the shooting was an execution of Mr Turi's order, hence it breached relevant constitutional provisions.

Justice Hartshorn denied all three applications, saying he had based his ruling on existing legal principles.

He said it was outrageous that the Student Representative Council had sought restraining orders that were against normal police duty.

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