"Warzone" described at University of PNG
Details are emerging of a warzone at the campus of the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.
Details are emerging of a veritable warzone at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby following yesterday's unrest.
Police opened fire on students at the University of PNG campus after refusing to allow them to walk to parliament to show support for a planned vote of no-confidence against prime minister Peter O'Neill.
Around 20 people, mostly students, were hospitalised, mainly with injuries from police bullet wounds.
Johnny Blades has more.
Four of the students who were hospitalised are understood to be in a critical condition.
Today, shocked students back at the campus have been taking stock.
A member of the Student Representatives Council, Hercules Jim described an unprovoked attack on the students
HERCULES JIM: There was no stone-throwing from the students or any weapons used by the students to attack the police. And then they shoot without any warning. The police went into the campus throwing tear-gas into the eyes of residents, getting students out of the dormitories again and shooting them. It was a war zone yesterday at the University of Papua New Guinea campus.
A day on, there are fears for dozens of students who remain unaccounted for, according to a student, Zacq Yakap.
ZACQ YAKAP: The students went everywhere and since the police were even running into the campus looking for students, the students ran into nearby bushes where the police also followed through and shot them. So at this moment we're not really sure where whoever is. It's like they've just shot where ever they were. So those that we could find and those that could make their way towards public help made it to the hospital and we're not certain of where the others are.
The former chief justice Air Arnold Amet says the police actions were a gross violation of freedom of expression and assembly.
They have been boycotting classes and protesting for over five weeks, demanding that prime minister Peter O'Neill stand aside to face fraud allegations.
Sir Arnold says it was a bad sign when the University asked police in to patrol the campus late last month
SIR ARNOLD AMET: It was very heavy-handed and quite frankly the government has handled this very, very poorly.
The prime minister and police commissioner have both deflected blame for the unrest, fingering members of the parliamentary opposition or outside agitators for fueling discontent among the students.
However Sir Arnold says it is mischievous of Peter O'Neill to suggest that the students have been manipulated by others.
He points out that the the nation-wide university protests have been peacefully conducted, but that the authorities' handling of the situation has ratcheted up the tension unnecessarily.
SIR ARNOLD AMET: So the potential for the escalation of agitation by civil society, relatives and generally the public appears to have happened in Port Moresby and in Lae. We just need to be cautious and try to avoid a front-on confrontation. That's not going to be helpful.
Meanwhile, the University last night obtained a court order which disallows students from taking actions which "are contrary to their enrolment", banning them from making further protests.
The students say they are not going to back down on their demand for Peter O'Neill's resignation, and are meeting over the next day or so to decide on their next course of action.
Police are still patrolling the UPNG campus.
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