Social Concerns Notes – October 2015

Hope on her mind

The National, Tuesday October 20th, 2015

WITH her pen firmly stuck between her right upper arm and chin, Isabella Kila went through her Grade 12 examination papers — knowing the results would mean a lot in fulfilling her dream of becoming a lawyer. Kila, 20, born without arms and legs, is among the 23,200 Grade 12 students in 146 schools around the country who, in the next two weeks, sit for the annual Higher School Certificate Examination. She is not letting her disability hinder her plan to be a human rights lawyer one day. “My dream is to become a human rights lawyer and I am working hard to achieve that,” Kila said. “Accessibility is an issue to me. And becoming a lawyer will help me fight for people with special needs.”

Kila, from Gobakigoro village in Rigo, Central, was born without limbs, but her dad Benjamin sees her as a fighter who will not give up easily. “She does things that normal children do. She has got power in her mind. She manages her own life. She has shower by herself. Sometimes she does her laundry herself,” he said as he waited outside for her to finish her exam papers yesterday. “She is good. She believes in herself. Her dream of becoming a lawyer will happen. “I believe in her. She is a blessing to me and my wife.”

Third in a family of five, Kila started her education at Cheshire Home in Hohola to learn how people with special needs can live with minimum supervision. She later joined mainstream schools, starting with Philip Aravure Primary School from Elementary to Grade Eight.She then joined St Charles Luanga Secondary before Gerehu Secondary.

Blind student takes Gr 10 tests

The National, Monday October 19th, 2015

A 21-year-old woman became the first visually-impaired student in the country to complete Grade 10 examinations last week. Clency Amos managed to complete her papers with the support of her schoolmate guide.  She was helped by Callan officers, who converted all Grade 10 papers into Braille.

Amos, who hails from the Bokap-Naur tribe in Kundiawa in Northern, sat for the examinations at the Holy Rosary Secondary School in Chimbu. After sitting for her mathematics and personal development papers, Amos said that she was always optimistic about completing her examinations like other students. “I have faith and trust in myself and with the support of the external invigilators and Callan officers – who are my eyes so I will make it,” she said “Special thanks to Ms Cecilia Bagore, Ms Magreth Benny and Br Cosmas Manau from Mt Sion for their support in having all the Grade10 subjects set in Braille.” A determined Amos added that being visually-impaired was always a challenge. Holy Rosary Secondary School called on other schools in the province and the country to enrol students with disabilities as inclusive education was vital to removing stigma in the community.

PNG’s low education statistics

Post Courier, September 30, 2015

NEW World Bank statistics show that almost 45 per cent of men and 55 per cent of women in Papua New Guinea have not completed a single year of formal education. This was according to the World Bank country director for PNG, Timor Leste, and international affairs Franz Drees-Gross during a televised panel discussion last Friday. Mr Drees-Gross added that education is not the only problem Papua New Guineans faced after 40 years of being politically independent. He said: “PNG has the lowest percentage (13 per cent) of electricity supply in the Pacific region and yet a big island country with many resources. “And out of 96 children in primary education, only 10 per cent of them make it to the high school level.” However, this education trend seems to be developing at a slower rate but PNG is said to have an optimistic future, the World Bank PNG country director said.

The story of the disastrous outcome based education reform

30 September 2015 Raymond Sigimet

THE outcome based education structural reform of 1993 saw the elevation of selected community schools to primary schools and promotion of high schools to secondary schools in those provinces selected to trial the education reform. With much reassurance, the national department of education outlined the benefits of the reform. Children could start school at an earlier age, they would learn their local language and culture, they would undertake two years of high school education at community school level and more students would complete Grade 12 for selection into universities and colleges, teachers would upgrade their qualifications, retention statistics would improve, the list went on.

Outcome based education had failed miserably in countries like Australia, South Africa and the United States. But, in their wisdom, the Papua New Guinea government and its advisors went ahead with the reform anyway.

It looked good on paper and sounded workable to the ears. But 20 years later, history tells us it failed in PNG – just like it did in those other countries. Last year, the national department of education announced that the 1993 education reform had fallen short of its objective and would be phased out with a new standards based education reform – more or less a return to the old way of schooling.

The problems with outcome based education arose for a variety of reasons: lack of funding and implementation were fundamental failures which were intensified by the lack of trained specialist teachers and many other flaws and let-downs. The question now is how did PNG go ahead with a reform knowing full well the system failed in more developed countries? Somewhere between PNG’s own educationists and their external advisers, someone must have an answer.

Climate change initiative backed

The National, Wednesday September 30th, 2015

CLIMATE change, which affects thousands of lives in Papua New Guinea has gained international support, according to Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion. He said the drive by PNG to garner international support on climate change gained prominence when Pope Francis spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in New York last week. The Pope pleaded with nations to act now on climate change. Dion led a government delegation to attend the general assembly and addressed it on Saturday. World leaders adopted the Sustainable Development Goals to succeed the Millennium Development Goals. Dion emphasised the Government’s initiatives to promote sustainable development in PNG and issues on climate change.

Report: Recovery will take years

Post Courier, October 01, 2015

IT may take about two years for El Nino Category 5 communities in the remote Highlands region to fully recover, a report has indicated. The report carried out by a church-based assessment team in the remote areas of Hela, Southern Highlands, Enga, Western Highlands and Chimbu Provinces showed that most communities are still waiting for relief supplies. The report put together by the United Church in the Highlands region indicated that it will take 18 to 24 months for these areas to fully recover.

Team leader of the assessment team Matthew Kanua said, during presentation of the report in Port Moresby recently, that food gardens and resources, livestock, planting materials, water sources, health and sicknesses plus environment are all destroyed at a rapid rate as drought and frost continue to batter those areas. He said schools were also affected where students are sick or have moved to other places in search of better living. His report also pointed out that bushfires were a raging phenomena that have destroyed homes, gardens and forests.


Care report on drought. “Our Food is Running out. By mid October everthing will be gone.”

Click to access CARE%20PNG%20Drought%20Assessment%20Report%20October%202015.pdf

Care Report – Executive Summary

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is currently experiencing the effects of an El Niño event, which includes warmer weather and significantly reduced rainfall. According to the National Weather Service (NWS) in Papua New Guinea and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, this dry hot spell which began in May 2015, will continue into early 2016. The CARE community needs assessment clearly identified immediate unmet needs in food security and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) as well as potential health impacts. The key findings of the CARE PNG assessments include the following:

Food Security: Households are currently experiencing food insecurity with the majority of household reporting that they either have only a short-term supply of staple food or have already run-out. As the current El Niño conditions are expected to continue until 2016, the food security situation could deteriorate even further over the coming months.

WASH: Women and children are travelling further to collect water and there are concerns over the water quality with animal and faecal material visible on the riverbed, which is impacting on the hygiene practices and increases the risk of water-borne diseases.

Livelihoods: Since garden yields have been so poor, there is little in terms of food surpluses to sell. As a result, households do not have cash available to purchase food or other essentials to meet their basic needs.

Health: Community members are reporting an increase in a number of diseases, diarrhoea, fever and respiratory illness in particular, although we were unable to verify this information with local surveillance data. However, based on the experience of the 1997- 98 drought there is an increased risk of diseases related to food and water scarcity.

Coping Strategies: Households are already using a variety of coping mechanisms as a result of the food shortages, such as eating only one meal per day and eating “famine” or “bush” food. Elderly and disabled household members are receiving significantly less food from their families.

Recovery Challenges: Even if the rains arrived today, families could not expect to harvest food from their gardens for at least four months. The extended dry period has also resulted in the desiccation planting materials which could impact the capacity of communities to recover.

Given the logistical challenges of providing assistance over many districts and provinces, and the expected duration of this El Niño event, a concerted effort will be needed to meet needs, including those of persons affected in remote and difficult-to- access communities.

Missionary sounds alarm, leaders respond

Post Courier, October 06, 2015

CHILDREN on the remote Biem Island in Wewak, East Sepik Province, are wailing openly for food because they have not eaten anything for a day or two. That is the reality that is gripping the islanders for the past few days. Many people have grown skinny and are suffering from dehydration but by God’s grace, no one has starved yet. Several have collapsed and lost consciousness while the old people are just sleeping in their houses, waiting for death to come. All food gardens have been harvested or have dried up in the intense heat and water sources, including tanks, had run dry.

A New Tribes Mission missionary based on the island raised the alarm last Wednesday after realising that the people have become so helpless and discouraged about the current food and water situation.

“The people are down to nothing and are asking for any assistance we can give them. Without assistance from the outside, they are becoming more and more helpless each day,” missionary Thomas Depner wrote. “In an effort to relieve some of the immediate hunger, we brought in a boatload of 28 bales of rice which we sold for K3.50 each. The rice was selling very slowly because most people did not have at least K3.50 to buy a packet. “In my estimation, the most urgent need is food relief as soon as possible, second would be drinking water and third medicine. We do not have an outbreak yet but that is bound to happen as the situation keeps worsening each day,” the missionary said. Wewak MP Jim Simatab and administrator Ricky Wobar responded immediately after receiving the report from the missionary and dispatched nine boats filled with 250 bales of rice and more than 300 litres of water containers last Friday. All other Schoutern Islands of Koil, Wei, Ruprup and Kadawar are also affected by the prolonged dry spell.

El-Nino Affected Islanders Survive On Coconut Water

The National, 15th October, 2015

Manus MP Ronny Knight says most islands in the province are hard hit by the drought and have resorted to coconut water to drink. Knight said the islanders would badly need help if the dry period continued. “Basically, all our islands are hard hit. In all the north coast islands of Rambutyo, Pak, Tong, Nauna, Baluan, Lou, the Ninigo Group and Wuvulu and Aua Island, people are surviving on kulau water to cook and drink. They also use well water. Some scattered rainfall occurs but not enough to fill the tanks. The crops are all dying, the ground has dried up and the top soil blown away. It’s much worse than 1997 with the heat much stronger. Our people will need help for months after the drought before normalcy returns. We are waiting for the District Development Authority to be set up early next week where we will budget K2 million for relief supplies and water tanks, including a portable desalination plant,” he said. Knight appealed to authorities and non-government organisations to assist the electorate’s efforts in helping the people.

Christians must show compassion: Bishop

The National, Tuesday October 13th, 2015

A Catholic bishop says Christians are challenged by faith and humanity to show compassion towards those suffering as a result of disasters. Bishop of Alotau Sideia Rolando Santos said: “Many of you are aware of the El Nino phenomenon which is affecting the lives of children and families across the country and the Pacific. “The continuous dry spell was affecting the supply of garden food and drinking water in many districts of Milne Bay. “This phenomenon is expected to continue up to the end of the year and even up to March of next year. “As Christians and as brothers and sisters, we are challenged by our faith and our common humanity to act and show compassion towards those who are affected by the drought. “As our Lord said to his disciples after seeing the need of the multitude, “You yourselves give them something to eat.” (Luke 9:13). “Like the young boy who handed over to Jesus his five loaves and two fish, let us share with others what have and trust the Lord that he will take care of the rest.” Santos appealed for generosity.

“Go to your community and find out who are affected by the drought and report this to your parish priest, the parish Caritas coordinator and to Sister Paola Orfano and the diocesan Caritas coordinator.

Santos said give your donation no later than November 15. He said they should pray to the Lord  to help spare them from this calamity so that families can stay together.

Church awaits State subsidy

The National, Monday September 28th, 2015

THE Government is yet to pay the Catholic Health Services subsidies from July to September, upsetting its budget and payment of salaries, an official says. Justine McMahon of the Catholic Health Office said the delay in the payment by the Government was making it difficult for the office to operate and pay its workers. She said provincial secretaries had to draw from funds allocated for other programmes, such as the maintenance and purchase of new equipment. No comment could be obtained from the Health Department yesterday. McMahon said most of the church’s health services were located in remote and rural areas and the delay in funding meant the health centres could not provide services to the people. She said the health centres had not closed down “although it has been seriously considered as an option due to lack of funds”. “The health staff members have other expenses as well, paying for education, communication, transportation, clothing and other necessary things.  “We are aware of some staff looking for other employment but cannot confirm how many have left.” She said some local communities, such as in Mingende, Chimbu, were providing health workers with food. “Health is critical to PNG and we appeal to the Government to treat this issue as a matter of urgency so that our staff can be paid on time,” McMahon said.

SABL final report set to go before Cabinet

Post Courier, October 05, 2015

CHIEF Secretary to Government Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc has applauded the Special Agriculture & Business Leases (SABL) Implementation Taskforce, for the outstanding report to implement the recommendations found during the Commission of Inquiry into SABLs. Sir Manasupe said that in 2011 the Government set up a commission of inquiry into SABLs, which found that many leases needed to be revoked. He said the Government then referred the matter to a ministerial committee to implement the findings of that particular inquiry. “However, the ministerial committee could not progress much for various reasons,” Sir Manasupe said. He said towards the end of 2014, Cabinet set up a special taskforce – SABL Implementation Taskforce, under the Chief Secretary, to look at how to effectively implement the COI findings. “Currently, the laws are complicated and ineffective to revoke these leases, therefore amendments to the legislation will be considered. “From the report provided by this special taskforce, the Government now has a clear way to implement the revocation of non-genuine leases. “Out of the 75 SABLs, only 42 SABL reports were provided by two members of the commission Nicholas Mirou and John Numapo. They had recommended that 30 should be cancelled, 11 suspended and that only one SABL was in order. “The other 30 SABL reports, however, have not been received by the Government, hence the Government is now pursuing other actions to obtain them,” Sir Manasupe said. “In the not too distant future, the Government hopes that some of the land will be returned to landowners,” Sir Manasupe said.’

Violent crime hits peaceful Madang

Post Courier, October 05, 2015

A SENIOR rural development worker has come out to comment on the dangerous increase in violent crimes in Madang Province. Vice-Chairman of Luaben Road Construction Services Mr Donald Apekal told Post-Courier recently that Madang had changed drastically from a once peacefully and safe place to probably the most dangerous place in Papua New Guinea. According to Mr Apekal who has lived and worked in Madang for the past 40 years, the same places where tourists and local visitors alike could take walks without fear or thought are now hell holes. He said that everywhere you go in Madang especially around the town area; a drunk criminal who is willing and capable of doing anything can be seen prowling the streets looking for his next victim. He added that it was uncanny how men carrying knives sticking out of their shirts or holding them in public view was something of a norm these days in Madang. “Stepping outside your home gate, you are more likely than not to be accosted or meet with some form of violence. “I love Madang and it will always be home, but at present, I would not recommend it as a place to live to my worst enemy. Mr Apekal who has worked in rural Madang for most of his working life, told Post-Courier Online that he believed the main reason for the gross increase in crime is the unfiltered influx of outsiders from other provinces who have come into the province without any clear cut means of survival. He said that the more idle people that come into the town, the more natives of Madang become hostile to the outsiders. The increase in tension between Madang folk and outsider squatters then causes infighting and ripple effect retaliation. He said that many people who knew have succumbed to the recent heightened violence, most recently being his wife who was threatened with a knife in town and robbed of her bilum on Monday.

Our society needs responsible fathers: a key to gutpela sindaun

August Berita.

There are millions of people worldwide who have graduated with degrees and doctorates. There have been thousands of books and articles written on how to combat social problems. Government after government has come to power and public and private organisations have been established to solve our dilemmas and show us the way and trillions of dollars have been applied.

In Papua New Guinea, many people are turning to Christianity hoping that a theocratic government is the solution. All done with the hope that we might create a society which can live in peace and harmony. People today seem to blame government as the cause of the problems. We blame the government for poverty, crime, poor education, inadequate health services, impassable roads, and the rest. Yet we do not realise that government is not responsible for the causes and solutions to most of our problems. But what if we suggest that men are probably the cause of many problems in society today? We have to admit that the moral standards of men have fallen and we no longer have enough responsible men in society. One of the possible solutions in bringing gutpela sindaun to our society is to help our men become responsible fathers. PNG needs responsible fathers. We have great men who have contributed a lot to our nation in different ways. Yet we cannot ignore that our society is full of irresponsible husbands and fathers. Having responsible fathers is crucial in the process of achieving peace and harmony; whether it be a monogamous or polygamous family. In male dominated society, if you try to empower women and children to fight social injustice against men, you will always have retaliation.

Men do not want to lose face or be directly confronted with the truth that they are wrong because we live in a shame culture. But if we positively empower men to think responsibly without affecting their status in society, it might be possible for them to adapt and change. A lot of men in a male dominated society don’t want to be led by women. It is much easier for women to follow a responsible father than for an irresponsible father to follow a responsible wife. If men are empowered to become responsible fathers, it’s possible that in the next twenty years, we will have gutpela sindaun in our society. Families are the main pillar of our society and fathers need to be responsible for building good family foundations. The moral foundation of any group of people is not shaped by the constitution of a country. It is not based on the wealth, economy or religious status of a country. The foundation of a nation begins with the family unit.

Our society does not need more men. It simply needs responsible fathers. We have fathers who are great leaders in government, religion, community and business, but if they are not leading in their homes they have neglected their primary responsibility. They have time for other things and yet do not have time for the children they fathered. How can men change the next generation, if they do not shape the very foundation of the generation they have in their hands.

A lot of single men feel they want to get married but it is one thing to feel you are ready for marriage and another to be prepared for marriage.  When the hormones in your body change and makes you feel like a man, that does not mean you are ready for marriage. You are not yet ready to be a husband and a father unless you are prepared to be a responsible husband and father.

Being a committed Christian in the church or having a good job does not guarantee you will be a good husband or promise you a good marriage. Marriage is not an event for the day nor is it a partner for the day. It is a lifetime duty of a responsible husband and father.In traditional society our fathers taught us that men have to be prepared before taking up their role as husbands and fathers. Sadly today it is no longer the case. We need responsible fathers who can influence the destiny of their children.

Hagen ‘market taxis’ offer an important lesson to our country

August Berita. 06 October 2015

OVER the last few years there has been an increase in the number of boys who roam in and out of Mt Hagen’s town market, some from as far as Southern Highlands and Enga. They are not men who wander around looking for opportunities to rob people, nor are they street vendors. They do not carry knives to threaten people; just a roll of string and a needle. They are known as ‘market taxis’ and they assist people to carry or sew their market bags. In return, people pay them between 50 toea and two kina. Some people generously give a bit extra. After helping you, the market taxis just wait around without demanding compensation. They do not quarrel if they are not paid. Instead they say simply, “Em orait, mi helpim yu tasol” (it’s OK. I’m just helping you) and walk away. They aren’t bothered what people think of them but they are enthusiastic and focused on what they are doing. They never went to business school to learn techniques of good salesmanship, but their customer service is much better than some of the shop assistants in Mt Hagen. These boys are smarter than the men who hang around the shopfronts, the bus stops and the public parks waiting to snatch wallets and handbags.

I was curious to know more about these friendly boys and asked them to tell their story.

Their parents are poor and some live in the squatter settlements around town. Their parents don’t have a regular income and don’t earn enough money to support the boys. Since they have nothing else to do, they come to the market to work. They say they earn good money from the services they provide.

Some of them go to school in the morning and, in their free time after school and at weekends and holidays, come to the market to work.

If we are to overcome poverty, we must take personal responsibility and use our time productively. The taxi boys never went to college. They don’t blame their parents. They took responsibility for their own lives. When we talk about poverty, we tend to think in terms of wealth. But there are different aspects of poverty; physical, spiritual, psychological, social and economic. The main aspect of poverty in PNG is poverty of the mind. There is no greater poverty and it is often expressed in phrases like ‘I can’t’ or ‘it’s impossible’.  It is amazing how the average Papua New Guinean does not expect to succeed. Instead of saying, ‘I cannot afford it’ these little taxi boys asked ‘How can I afford it?’  The statement lets you off the hook, while the question forces you to think. When you say, I can’t afford it, your brain stops working.  By asking how can I afford it? the brain is put to work. PNG is a rich nation and we are a resourceful people. Yet, I’m struck by our widespread pessimism. The worrying aspect is that pessimistic people spread their ideas that others are the cause of their poverty.

If we change our thinking, life will get better.  When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change. Sadly, our current education system no longer prepares young people to mind their own business. Instead it prepares them to look to others to give them a job and a hope in life.


Forgotten prisoners

Post Courier, October 08, 2015

THEY were initially sent to the Laloki Psychiatric Hospital in Port Moresby for treatment, but have ended up as remandees at Bomana jail. Some have been there for as long as three years, “forgotten” with their papers “lost” in the system. The plight of these 14 prisoners, including two women, was brought to the attention National Court judge Justice Panuel Mogish after fellow detainees at Bomana jail, whose cases were before the court, raised the alarm. Justice Mogish yesterday summoned lawyers from the Public Solicitor’s Office and Public Prosecutors officers to court to review their long overdue cases. The 14 prisoners, who were charged with a wide range of offences, were sent to Laloki from nine different provinces for psychiatric treatment. Justice Mogish said that a medical report, called psychiatric patients discharge summary, of the 14 prisoners stated that they were either treated or were mentally fit enough to be returned to their respective jails. However, they remained “forgotten” at Bomana, their papers “lost in the system”. Some have been in Bomana for as long as three years after Laloki medicated, reviewed and discharged them, the judge said. Justice Mogish blamed the CS officers for the oversight, adding that if finance was a problem, he was sure the court would have found ways to repatriate the 14 to their provinces.

Callan will go online

Post Courier, October 08, 2015

CALLAN Services of PNG, the largest health facility for persons with disabilities, is going online soon. Its 19 workers are currently in Port Moresby, attending a workshop on how to write stories and take pictures for a website that they will be creating for the organisation. As part of their training, the workshop participants were taken on tour of Post-Courier newsroom in Konedobu yesterday to see for themselves how the daily newspaper is put together. Callan Services development officer Patrick Hikin said the 19 people were mostly teachers who graduated from the different teachers colleges in the country where they took special education to teach at the special education centres. He said they would now not only be teachers, but would be expected to collect information, write them down and send them to the Callan Services headquarters in Wewak, which would put the stories on the organisation’s website for its network.

It’s working in partnership with the Government through the National Education Department, which is supporting Callan Services by paying the salaries of its teachers. A couple of its resource centres are also getting the Government’s Tuition Free Fee subsidies, but the majority of the organisation’s funding comes from international donor agencies. Mr Hikin said the national office takes care of funding, finance and research while its resource centres in the provinces cater for the actual needs of the people with disabilities, including providing equipment such as hearing aids for those with hearing problems and eye-glasses for those with hearing impairments. It also provides education, especially for the younger children until they are able to go to the mainstream schools.

Young Jeremiah passes on

Post Courier, October 07,2015, 05:13 pm

Beaten with sticks, stones and iron, young 17 year old Jeremiah Yinu was a victim of soldiers’ brutality that led him to be in a coma for three months before he passed away yesterday afternoon at 1pm. He had been assaulted by soldiers who retaliated after two of their own were attacked by students who were on their way to celebrate the Kilakila Secondary Students Cultural Show on Saturday July 25 of this year. The students had taken offence when two soldiers under the influence of alcohol assaulted a fellow student and had overpowered the two soldiers leaving both receiving wounds. Described by his father as a hard working boy who was respectful and would not hurt anyone, the student from the Koki Salvation Army Secondary School is missed by his family.

Unity is key says Momis as Bougainville mulls referendum

7 October 2015 7 October 2015 Anthony Kaybing

BOUGAINVILLE president Dr John Momis has once again signalled unity as the key ingredient in successfully holding a referendum on independence in the autonomous province. Dr Momis said that to progress towards self-determination and eventual independence, should it choose that road, the Autonomous Bougainville Government must unite all Bougainvilleans. “My department is planning a region-wide patrol to visit all districts to discuss government policies and programs but more importantly to hear what our communities are saying,” he said. “Sometimes our communities cry foul because we have not given them the opportunity to be heard and participate. We need to take heed of the adage ‘united we stand, divided we fall’,” he cautioned.

Dr Momis said the greatest threat to a progressive and vibrant Bougainville is that the people remain polarised in different groups like Mekamui, Kingdom of Papala and Ex-Combatants. “My appeal is for the people of Bougainville to come under the legally constituted entity – the Autonomous Bougainville Government,” he said. A positive way forward was shown by the pledge of Mekamui government leaders from Panguna who have started to realign with the ABG. An event at Panguna late last month witnessed a declaration by Meekamui strongman Moses Pipiro that Panguna will become a weapons–free zone in which all arms will be collected and secured. “I would like to congratulate the leaders from Panguna and Mekamui, Philip Miriori and his deputy Philip Takaung, for taking the creative initiative to join the ABG and the rest of Bougainville in preparing our people for the referendum,” Dr Momis said. The president called on other factions of the Mekamui, the Konnou Group and U-Vistract Group to take the same decision and join the ABG.

Gruesome video online shows torture of women accused of witchcraft

The footage, reportedly taken in a village of the Enga province, shows four women who have been stripped, tied up, burned and beaten. Several men prod the women threateningly with machetes while hurling questions at them. According to a local Lutheran missionary, Anton Lutz, the video was first shared by local high school students on their mobile phones before it appeared on social media.

Ruth Kissam, an anti-sorcery-violence activist and youth coordinator for PNG’s Western Highlands provincial government, says that the time has come for the government to take decisive action.

“It is a national crisis and it calls for aggressive action by the government right now,” she said.

Last December the Catholic Bishop of Wabag, Arnold Orowae, launched a campaign against the persecution of so-called witches, threatening any Catholics who get involved in sorcery-related attacks with excommunication. In an interview, Bishop Orowae expressed his disgust with people who call themselves Christians and yet spread dissension linking innocent persons to sorcery. He also said that the Catholic Church would fight against these witch hunters together with the police. “The unethical and unlawful killing of women alleged to be witches must and will be stopped in 2015,” the bishop said. The Bishops’ Conference of Papua New Guinea published an open letter in the two major Papuan dailies, condemning the persecution of pseudo-witches.

In the most recent case, the four women were accused of witchcraft after a young man became ill and later died in a village in Enga province in August. Reports on social media claim that the women were accused of “invisibly” taking out the man’s heart. Some have gone so far as to assert that the women put the heart back after they were tortured, so confirming their guilt. “There’s no real way they can prove themselves innocent,” one local source told Guardian Australia. “Once they’re suspected they’re basically done for, they’ll be tortured and maybe killed as well.” According to an online translation of the video, the women deny having done anything wrong, and plead for mercy. “My son, stop it!” says one of the women, cowering on the ground. “Talk out, where did you put it?” replies the voice of one of her attackers, referring to the young man’s heart. “Burn her with the wire.”

“I’ve got nothing to do with it,” says another of the women. “I am a mother with five children.”

Forensics reveals truth about sorcery deaths

Post Courier, October 09, 2015

SCIENCE will always find a reasonable explanation for death, even if it is believed to be sorcery-related, says the nation’s chief pathologist Dr Seth Fose. “Of the 150 to 200 post mortems that I do in a year, less than five are unexplainable.” Dr Fose, one of only five Papua New Guineans specialising in forensic pathology, says that unexplainable deaths are usually caused by lack of information and not sorcery. “The first thing to do in a post mortem is to read the information given by the police so you know what to look for.” Sometimes when that information is insufficient, the cause of death is missed. However, most times the cause of death is easy to find.

Dr Fose said heart attack was one disease that was often confused with sorcery. “Heart attacks are unexpected. So when someone normal gets a heart attack, people make connections with recent happenings and trips and assume its sorcery related, when in reality, it was just a heart attack.”

Tuberculosis, bleeding in the brain, kidney problems and other diseases that take a while to be detected, can also cause confusion. “Sometimes, family members do not know that their relatives are sick.” He said to quell confusion, he usually invites relatives of the dead to view the body. “I tell them this is what a normal heart looks like, and this is what the sick heart looks like. If you don’t believe me, use Google or some medical text book to make sense of what you see.

PNG Supplementary Budget – too much, too late?

By Paul Flanagan on October 2, 2015

The Supplementary Budget is an important accountability mechanism for ensuring that the Parliament makes the key decisions on how to reduce their earlier appropriations. But it should have come out in the first quarter of 2015 or, at the latest, at the same time as the MYEFO. Especially given its lateness, the savings sought should be modest. The really important document for now is a 2016 Budget Strategy that sets out a credible medium-term path for avoiding a fiscal crisis. [See the url above for the full article.


Critical commentary on the LNG story.

[See the url above]


Also see:

The six billion kina answer

By Graeme Smith on October 8, 2015

In attempting to trace the origin of the loan, it became apparent that the central ministries meant to oversee PNG’s development finance were in the dark. At the Department of National Planning and Monitoring, tasked with coordinating donors, officials offered that they did their best to guide loans, but ‘it just goes beyond us … China and Japan respond to politicians because of the absence of a clear aid policy. China prefers to work the way it does, they make agreements outside the normal process, and then after everything is agreed, they bring it to our budget process.

[For the full article, see the url above]

Govt to reconsider death penalty

Post Courier, October 14, 2015

THE Government is reconsidering its decision on the death penalty. But yesterday, the office of the Justice and Attorney-General advised Post-Courier that an official statement on the Government’s position will be made “at a later date.” Papua New Guinea has 11 inmates on death row, and in recent months the lobby against the death penalty has been mounting, spearheaded by the Catholic church and its agencies.The Justice and Attorney-General officials said yesterday that a different approach will be undertaken by the Government, but there were major issues that needed to be addressed before any announcement is made.

Statement on Climate Change. Catholic Bishops’ Conference (28 Sept, 2015)

 We, the Bishops of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands gathered together in Port Moresby, are deeply concerned about climate change and its effects in our region. We address this letter to the Political leaders of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, of the world and especially the participants of Conference of Parties 21.

Pope Francis, in his recent encyclical Laudato Si’, urges the entire global human family to see our planet and its peoples as our common home that needs care now and for future generations.

Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands are affected by climate change. We experience it in changed weather patterns, reduced access to clean water, diseases affecting plants, animals and humans, sea level rise, eroding coastlines, and sea-water invading the water lens and food plots. Fires affect the atmosphere. These changes mean that many people are forced to migrate and relocate to live elsewhere.

The protection of the atmosphere, the land and the oceans require political and economic decisions so that we do our part to care for the land, sea, forests and air entrusted to us and our future generations. We need to evaluate the consequences of our current policies. This means far-sighted governance shaped by the principles of justice and fairness that reflect and protect the environment for the benefit of our entire common home.

We commit to encouraging our own people, civic leaders included, to do their part to foster sustainable and equitable developmental and economic policies in PNG and SI. And we strongly urge those from Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands at international meetings such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (30 Nov- 11 Dec 2015) not to be swayed solely by self-interest and to be courageous in making decisions that will reverse global inequality and degradation in favour of the common good.

We count on your solidarity and action, and we pray for wise and ambitious decisions to be agreed by political leaders that recognize people’s needs and everybody’s personal contribution in reducing harmful Green House Gas emissions.

The world community has the means to change course and to limit temperature rise to less than 1.5° degrees Celsius. It is our moral imperative to act now.

Bishop Arnold Orowae

On behalf of the Bishops of the CBC-PNG/SI


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