UPNG protest was not in vain, says student

9:06 am on 9 June 2017

University of Papua New Guinea students say their protest last year played a role in informing the public ahead of the upcoming election.

It's a year since twenty students from the university's Port Moresby campus were hospitalised after police opened fire when they sought to march to parliament.

Stephen Lichas was chased and shot by Papua New Guinea police when he fled the University of PNG's Waigani Campus after they opened fire on hundreds of students

Stephen Lichas was chased and shot by Papua New Guinea police when he fled the University of PNG's Waigani Campus after they opened fire on hundreds of students Photo: Supplied

Students had been boycotting classes for almost two months, demanding Prime Minister Peter O'Neill step down to answer to fraud allegations.

The Student Representative Council which led the boycotts has since been suspended for five years.

According to a former member of the Council, Gerald Tulu Manu-Peni, the class boycott and student forums about fraud and the economy were not in vain.

"What we did last year will not go to waste," he said.

"We know for sure that the population of this country, at least they know what we did, what we fought for... so they will make a well-informed decision this coming polling period."

University of Papua New Guinea students gather to discuss their demand for the prime minister's resignation.

University of Papua New Guinea students gather to discuss their demand for the prime minister's resignation, May 2016. Photo: UPNG4PNG

Gerald Tulu Manu-Peni said classes had mainly returned to normal and the campus was quiet again now.

UPNG management had ruled that no political activities or campaign rallies were allowed, and was maintaining tighter control of any new student issues that arise.

Following the incident, both police and the government indicated an inquiry would be held into the circumstances around the police shootings.

There are no indications any probe had transpired.

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