Oh the irony! Students breaking the law to insist on the rule of law.

By PNG Echo.

Let’s be blunt: the students – or the militant minority, have got exactly what they want.

Page four of yesterday’s Post Courier foretold it all:

Kenneth Rapa - President of the Students' Representative Council
Kenneth Rapa – President of the Students’ Representative Council

According to reporter Nellie Setapano, an illegal forum had been overseen by Students’ Representative Council President, Kenneth Rapa and attended by less than 300 students where a strategy was formed to deliberately defy and provoke police.

The stated aim of the militant ones was to get themselves arrested in order to gain public attention, sympathy and support.

But even with this pitifully poor turnout, it was reported that a large number of the attendees were less than enthusiastic anyway – but it did not stop their stated “life or death” strategy from going ahead.

Then, after the mêlée, it is thought that agitators had subsequently and knowingly spread false reports of resultant deaths of students killed by police to international media outlets in a bid for overseas support and the attendant condemnation leading to the international embarrassment of the PNG government.

The Minister for Police, Robert Atiyafa, condemned the Australian Broadcasting Corporation who falsely reported that there had been four deaths after buying the maliciously spread propaganda.  He said:

The ABC should get out and report the facts, not just repeat what they read on Facebook [where a plethora of misinformation was transmitted by those who should have known better – and probably did].

Law-breaking students.

Police try to stop students leaving the campus
Police try to stop students leaving the campus

The students were warned not to go outside the campus, yesterday, yet they did.

They provoked the police by throwing stones, they refused to allow the police to carry out their orders and arrest Kenneth Rapa. They were violently provocative.

What did they expect would happen?

And while police, arguably, should have used more restraint and less gun power – they’re not exactly known for restraint – something of which Rapa would have been well-aware when he formulated his callous plan.

Everything they did was illegal and against the rule of law.

Yet their catch cry is for the Prime Minister to step down and submit to the rule of law – what a pity Rapa didn’t do likewise, if he’d submitted to arrest,  perhaps those few who were seriously hurt (and I believe none of them critically) may not have been.

Honestly, has the irony of their stance been completely lost on them?

There has been much talk in the PNG parliament lately of intelligence and who’s got what amount – judging by the poor decisions of this militant minority of students, the combined IQ here would be countable of the fingers of not too many hands – either that or they are dastardly manipulative.

Because surely, the leading protagonists are aware of who’s funding them – and make no mistake, someone is (I mean, what student can afford to hire buses to be on stand-by for transportation – which they reportedly were) and unless they are really as stupid as they are presenting themselves to be then they’d understand the motivations behind their financiers and even have a few motivations of their own.

It is the leaders of the students who are using their fellows as cannon fodder for someone’s base political motives.

Anyway, the gauntlet has been thrown down by the militant students and it has been picked by the authorities who have started an investigation into who is leveraging, influencing and funding them. The investigation will also include looking at the culpability of social media.

I guess these young people are about to get a timely lesson in consequences – a lesson the injured are well on their way to learning already.

It’s political – of course it is.

The protests have been clearly political and someone in opposition is odds-on favourite for being behind this – and it’s despicable.

The students voiced their concerns, the Prime Minister answered them – and the silence from the students in response to the PMs statement has been absolute, indicating acceptance.

Therefore, the students have no more issues – and the majority have accepted that.

It is clear that it is not the rule of law that concerns this militant remainder of student protestors as they go about deliberately breaking any and every law they but up against. No, it’s someone else’s political agenda and I could fathom a guess as to whose – you whistle, I’ll point.

Yes, Mr Rapa and his cohorts got exactly what they wanted yesterday, exactly what they asked for, in fact, I’d say they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams – they just need to keep off the moral high ground, it doesn’t belong to them.

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21 thoughts on “Oh the irony! Students breaking the law to insist on the rule of law.

  1. Also an irony that a person who came from militant south wales can complain about agitators, demonstrators, militants etc.

    Who do you now admire Margaret Thatcher or Nye Bevan?

    • It’s neither actually…and I’m not against demonstrating – but I am against these students being used to effect someone’s political agenda that can’t make the grade at the polls. If the demand had been something else other than vacating his seat for the scavengers to devour, it would have been different. They’re not fighting corruption – that’s the problem. They are cannon fodder. It was lucky someone didn’t die – the RPNGC are not known for their measured approach.

      • I share the same sentiments with Dr. Merrell through and through. Yes, I don’t support the way Police reacted to the student’s ignorance of their directives not to proceed with the march and yes on the part of the students handling the issue, it was obviously provoked and financed by somebody within the Opposition ranks. We have an independent vibrant court system in PNG which we pray that it will determine the outcome of the allegations leveled at the PM whether he is guilty or not and this hopefully is done sooner rather than later. As for Mr Rapa and his cohorts, my heart bleed for you because although your cry was GENUINE and I mean very genuine, the financiers of the whole operation had other motives to be in power and used your team as scapegoats. From yesterday’s event, my assessment on the main players is; PM O’Neill 0/10, Belden Namah 1/10, Don Polye 1/10, Garry Juffa 4/10, Sam Basil 5/10 , Geri Baki 2/10, Police 0/10, Mr Rapa 6/10 and the real genuine winners are the UPNG students with a rating of 9/10. Tinting blo mi tasol…….

  2. Whether or not Mr raps and his cohorts planned the whole thing the point is people got hurt and to just blame the students is pathetic. The police open fired on unarmed civilians
    That is a crime of the highest order. The PMs response is too partial and unfair and inadequate. In order to vindicate himself if he is innocent is to allow the law to question and investigate him too. That is democracy. He must to some extent take responsibility for what happened. Politics is not just about legalized leadership,..its about servanthood. The more focused we become in pointng fngers and looking for evidence we lose sight of what it means to be human.

    • I for one disagree with this article. It is unreasonable to say ‘the students – or the militant minority, have got exactly what they want(ed)’.They were UNARMED for goodness sake. There was no threat at hand. The undoubted fact is that the force exercised by the police was highly unproportional to the gravity of the events at hand. Therefore, it is irrational to say the students got exactly what they deserved.

  3. what may be said maybe true, but the acts of the police force of PNG cannot go unseen..They opened fire on innocent civilians who had der hands on der heads…We do not know whether it was intentional that Mr Rapa was a papet playing to a politician tune but one things for sure we should not accuse,if der is relavent and notable evidence that he was dan its a mistake dat da students followed him into battle..But from wer i am dey shud be regarded as heros to da public.. Please dont judge a book by its cover, we must not belive ol we read on media its fictionative writing like dis dat makes us loose hope when we should be really trying to hold on..

  4. Students are the future leaders and their rights to express should not be suppress for so long, police should not have open fire to this unarmed citizen. Can prime minister simply come out in person and address the petition instead of addressing it in media, please respect your people and come out in person and address to the students and public, your people.

  5. Majority rules,those elites of the future of the country should have thought about the consequences of the strike.Every young Papua New Guineans who goes through the PNG education curriculum have the right to achieve that last stage of the education process before getting into work force. We need the young ones to take over from the older workforce. The government changes leadership from the way I think won’t make any difference to the country’s economy cause of the obvious reason which every educated and uneducated Papua New Guineans know.

  6. So you asking PNGeans to kiss goodbye democracy and welcome dictatorship?… you cannot point fingers to the students, to keep away from the political issues…they are doing it for the silent population in PNG… If PM is truly innocent, he should have gone in for questioning and get investigated. He is still the PM and we respect that, after investigations and questioning, he will still resume his duty as the PM if found not guilty… his disinclinations cost all these chaos in the country.

  7. It’s unbecoming of the UPNG SRC for continuing their cause and boycotting classes. How long will they continue to defy the authorities pursuing agendas that has already compromised individuals at the campus?
    If anything spills out of control that will affect the students and Papua New Guineans as a whole, the current SRC should be accountable for that.
    They don’t even represent the bulk of the population of Papua New Guinea so who’s interest are they pursuing? Who gave them the mandate to represent the people?
    Being at a university doesn’t warrant people to represent folks back at the rural places as the SRC is now claiming.
    So for the stability of the country, it’s so simple, Resume Classes and let experience people do their jobs. Not inexperienced so called intellectuals who are yet to complete their education.

  8. Shame on ABC news! They should be held responsible for spreading lies that created a rippling effect of violence throughout the nation yesterday!! No student died! And well done PNG Echo for telling the facts here! I agree with you!

  9. I am a Papua New Guinean, the motives of the students were NOT politically motivated. It is a democratic right for peaceful protest. The police shot into an unarmed group of student. As for the person who wrote this crap, where is the evidence that the students threw stones. We have not seen any rocks or damage done to police officers or their vehicles. Nor have there been any pictures showing any rocks or stones around the area where the protest was held.

  10. SPIRIT OF GREED is the cause of everything. The current leaders of government and opposition once been together and can be ally in future. I don’t trust all these leaders and their system of. Government. All they want is to fill their own pockects. Even the new leaders are appointed or elected and the system is unchange, the people will still suffer. I PREDICT THAT IN 20 YEARS TIME PNG WILL GO INTO SYSTEM REVOLUTION WHERE PEOPLE WILL BENEFIT MORE AND NOT THE INDIVIDUAL PEOPLE.

  11. I was there and I saw it with my own eyes. Students had their hands high up, showing the Police that they were unarmed.

    The way I see, the Police got orders to shoot and injure students to put a stop to the protest.

    Where is Democracy???? Why shooting at unarmed students????

    PM than approved a Commision of Enquiry into the Protest when it shoud have been the shooting.

    • Susan, I have just one question for you. With all the accusations levelled at the PM, including the fraudulent payments amounting to millions of kina and the subsequent events that followed (which I might add were flimsy efforts to stem investigations and a blatant abuse of power and position), coupled with the ineffective opposition whilst members of the current coalition are fearful of rocking the boat that feeds them, what with elections around the corner, and whilst you are at it, why don’t you throw in the fact that almost all protest gatherings against the government of the day have being deemed illegal, citing public safety like a broken record ., and off course the current economic woes facing the country which are being acutely felt by all PNGans (granted it may not all be P O’Neil ‘s doing, but nevertheless, still under his watch ….and now the shooting of unarmed students….. . With all these and more, how long do you think an Australian MP would resist the call to step aside or do the honourable thing by voluntarily stepping aside to let investigations clear him/her? Answer that and you’ll know the level of frustration on the ground.
      Granted no one should be verbally abused the way you were. But your analysis of the sensitive situation with out providing proper facts is not helping the situation on the ground. The fact that students marched knowing fully well that they would be stopped was just their way of protesting against the arbitrary actions against freedom of expression exercised time and again by this regime.

  12. Papua New Guinea is a democratic country and people have the freedom of movement, speech and demonstrations. The police has the responsibility to ensure public safety. The students in their moral conscience speak out what they think is right in democracy. The police had the responsibility to safeguard the students who are the citizens of this country as well as the other city residents and property. The police ought to escort the student protest to parliament ensuring public safety which is their moral duty. Preventing protest and shooting at them is suppression of democratic rights and is paving way for dictatorship.
    On the matter of funding, it is not the responsibility of the government to point fingers and play the blame game which it is so good at. The matter of importance is to clear allegations against yourself (Pm). The students did this out of their own moral conscience, they are not kindergarten kids to be easily manipulated. The students are neutral in politics and opposes corruption.
    My questions to the author Sussan Murrell are:
    1.As a doctor what you speak ought to be evidence based. Prove the allegations of students involved politicians in opposition for funding. (from what I see in pom students have been pushing wheelbarrow in the streets of NCD for public donations since May).
    2. As you said 300 students are a minority, the full force of police where deployed to the university. In your understanding of policing responsibility is preventing protest and shooting the students the right approach and the only option available or is there any other thing the police can do instead of shooting?
    3. You believe the Prime Minister is innocent. Do you think the Prime minister as a responsible leader has moral duty to step aside and clear his name in the impartial law of our land?

    • Firstly, the name is Merrell – not difficult: two ‘e’s’ two ‘r’s and two ‘l’s’ (one ‘M’).
      The students do have a right to protest. Was it a well-thought-out protest? Where did you find special ‘rules’ for people who are doctors? I’ve never seen them. Do they give them out at graduation in PNG because they don’t where I got my degrees. I am not a court of law, I do not have to prove anything “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Shooting the students was not the greatest idea of the RPNGC – in fact it was really bloody stupid- for many reasons. I do not believe that the PM should stand down – in fact, I think it would be irresponsible given the calibre and the expertise of those who would want to replace him. It would create chaos. There are elections next year, remove him then, if you can. I don’t know if the PM is innocent, do you? That’s, once again, something that I do not have to decide or prove. The fact is, the crime to which the PM is accused of being an accessory has not yet been estabished by the investgating officers and won’t be unless they start concentrating on corruption and stop playing politics instead. Paul Paraka is the person that needs to be investigated and he’s still walking around – let’s establish if he has been the beneficiary of corrupt monies before we bring down a government on the chance that he may be.

  13. Video footage later showed no provocation by students.

    Funding was done by collection of donation through the streets,
    even one person can single handedly hire a bus, you don’t need a hundred thousand dollar for that!

    Regardless, everyone has the right to freedom of speech. Even if it were a very violent protest, Police do not have ANY RIGHT to stop them.
    Open firing on UNarmed civilians is just way out of line!!!

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