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17 February 2013


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Sincere questions. Is witch hunting/burning a traditional thing in PNG? Can somebody tell me in which socities in PNG was witch hunting/burning practised before the arrival of the white man?

We need to identify these groups of people to deal with.

Where I was born and grew up in the central highlands of PNG there was never such a thing as witch hunting and burning.

Definitely warriors but not 'witch hunters & burners'.

I agree that burning of so-called witches should be totally banned because it is taking an innocent life.

Those who kill suspected sorcerers should be held and dealt with under the law of PNG.

Jocabeth - Many evil things that used to be part of traditional cultures have become crimes due to societies' understanding that there are some basic moral absolutes which take precedence over 'tradition'. For example slavery, Suttee, female genital mutilation, cannibalism.

A start might be if the PNG government showed that it was serious about implementing the universal declaration of human rights. It dates from 1948 and is a pretty impressive document.

Papua New Guinea is known to be the land of the unexpected.

What's new about killing of people due to sorcery.

Our ancestors have practised it and it's passed on from generation to generation. People cannot change overnight.

However, we are in the 21st century and our attitudes should change as well.

For the majority of us Papua New Guineans, we have attitude problems and functionless brains that make people from all over the world amazed and disgusted at what we do to each other in terms of voilence and killings.

We ought to be ashamed of what our fellow citizens are doing and spoiling the name of our home PNG.

Every day innocent lifes are lost because of sorcery. People who accuse other people for the practise of sorcery, do they ever stop and think for a second what they are about to do?

How cruel can they be on someone. It is a sad fact that women in PNG are the main targets.

For the minority of Papua New Guineans that go against sorcery I urge you all to at least make a difference in your community.

Save a life and make a change for our future generation.

I hate to say this but witch burning is an ongoing thing in PNG.

I've heard of it and even seen people, especially males, torturing the witches.

Maybe some places don't practice it but it is happening in most places of the Highlands. It occurs mostly in the rural areas. All or most deaths that occur, people blame sorcery.

People believe in sorcery and it has become part of their culture. According to human rights, witch burning is wrong.

However ethically this is right according to the ethical theory of cultural relativism which states that when someone says or does something bad, it is correct according to their culture.

How can witch burning be stopped if people are following their culture. It is sad but we have no control over it.

For several years Leo Igwe has been a tireless opponent of deadly forms of superstition. He is now studying the phenomenon of witchcraft-related crimes as a scholar in Germany.

Moreover, Leo has long been a foe of narrow-minded cultural relativism, in his nation of Nigeria and every other country. A bad practice is a bad practice,regardless of its country or culture of origin.

Let's all join Leo in fighting against deadly forms of superstition all over the globe.

So all deaths in PNG are caused by witchcraft and sorcery? I don’t think so.

It may be common in your village up in EHP and ARB but not all Papua New Guineans practice and believe in that.

Lifestyle and communicable diseases are very common killer in PNG and other developing countries that we all know.

As far as I know from media (national and local news) there are few incidents reported on witch killing in PNG.

Apart from global media, national and local news which reported the same incidents please link me to where I could find the rest of your argument.

I support Leo's call for international agencies and countries to help eradicate those few that are practicing black magic or witchcraft.

Papua New Guinea is moving with rest of the world and those that still practice witchcraft may stop it now.

The national government must draft tough laws and impose higher penalties on those who practice witchcraft.

I think the collaborative efforts from the government and the international agencies or countries may eradicate those few people who practice it.

I love my country and my people as I know we are better in many ways than other developing countries in the world.

To say sorcery killing in not common in PNG is a lie. I can't count the number of times this happended in my home province - Eastern Highlands.

I have heard of witch burnings and killings growing up and now I am in my 30s.

Please, don't try to deny this evil happen in PNG when these acts have been making headlines of our news outlets over the last decade...don't we think these as are recent as they could ever be?

Joe Wasia, curb your unnecessary burst of indignant patriotism. It does not help this sad chapter we are addressing with Attitude.

Let's try a survey of experiences from PNGians; I have seen a witch hunt victim at Ten Mile Lae in 2006 and heard of another that happened at Nine Mile in 2010, just before I arrived at the market; and there have been two other sorcery related killings near Four Mile in the last few years. Other people may corroborate this.

Apart from many other anecdotal stories I have heard from around the country, in my village the people claim to recognise and fear at least two witches alive today; my relatives have killed a witch and my direct ancestor was known to have killed witches (he was a warrior and lived on his own in the bush for fear that the spirits of his slain enemies would haunt his family).

I myself was for some time ordered not to go to my village for fear of witches and advised on precautions to take against sorcery.

My fiancé is from Finschhafen and has related weird tales of the occult practices there in the past and today.

To me reading a horrendous 'witch killing' in the daily newspaper every odd year or so is one time too often. That I believe may be a good definition of 'common', and may be a wake-up call for people who share Joe's sentiments.

Like I said before we need to put up our hand for help, at the right time and place. Despite what may believe there is respect for sovereignty. Ingwe and the UN won't come charging in!

But I'm eager to have some feedback from other Attituders. Please share your own experiences with witch hunts and slaying.

I support Leo because in my corner of Bougainville, witch killing is on-going. Every death in my area is always witch-created.

It is a problem that now need a tooth-for-a-tooth approach in getting rid of it. Quickly introduce the legal killing of criminals.

The issue need external support because PNG is clear today that it cannot function as a state. it has no capability to provide security to its citizens.

Good piece, Leo.

Leo- I want to remind you that sorcery killing is not common here in Papua New Guinea as pointed out in your article. We don't believe every death being caused through sorcery and witchcraft.

I think the torturing and witch-burning that recently took place in one of the towns is the first or second time in PNG's history.

Papua New Guinea is a Christian country and we don't believe in witches and black magic.

Out of 7.5 million people very very few people believe in sorcery and black magic. And I believe its same in many other countries in the world.

Your article paint bad picture on the whole country. We believe in God The Creator and not in witchcraft or sorcery.

You cannot conclude everything just by one or two incidents.

I support your call for the international agencies, organisations and countries to help completely weed out few people who still practice and believe in witchcraft.

I know, in many ways, PNG is better than many of those African, South American, South-east and Asian countries.

Leo Igwe is obviously a person who understands well the present problems facing PNG concerning the appearance of cases of "witch burning".

I can imagine the reaction if he was to be brought to PNG and given the opportunity to address the people who have been involved with the recent killings.

The people would say, "Here is a fellow black-skinned man who is one of us and understand this problem. Let's listen to him and try to understand what he is saying."

He mentions a role for UN Women. Maybe Justice Catherine Davani could be called in to help as well. She is soon to address meetings of leading UN Women in Australia.

I know she has had plenty of experience of PNG's occult beliefs and would be heart-broken to see what is happening to these poor PNG women mixed up in this present "witch-hunting" business.

Although there is obviously a major role for the PNG churches in stopping these problems I think the International groups involved with Human Rights around the world can play an important part as well.

Witch burning is still occuring in other parts of the world. With modern communications the world has grown smaller and the whole world can hear of these dreadful happenings soon after they have occurred.

Let us hope that modern communications can be used to promote socio-cultural and religious reformation and achieve an Enlightenment in the dark places of PNG.

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