AS the president of the University of Papua New Guinea Student Representative Council and on behalf of the students of the UPNG whom have given me the mandate to be their leader, I salute the bravery and courage of each and every individual UPNG student, and students from other sister universities and secondary schools throughout the country, whom have given up their education and have stood up for what we all believe in.
Fighting for what is right and just is enforced by individual moral conscience. It is of a moral duty you and I as citizens owe to this God-given land of ours to protect and safeguard its tomorrow.
I again salute the UPNG students for not only giving me the mandate to lead them, but also for their correct moral judgement in standing firm with me since we first addressed the issue.
On behalf of the student body, I must remind the citizens of this country, the government and the international community that what transpired on Wednesday 8 June 2016 is a very sad and tragic event in the history of PNG.
The nation must not let such cruelty by the government towards its citizens and students go in to history for it will only set a bad precedence for future generations to come.
The public must be reminded that government’s power is for the people, by the people and of the people. We are the source of all power. The public has every right to question such abuse of power.
Shooting of peaceful and harmless students and wounding dozens of students with the intention of suppressing the exercise of fundamental human rights found in our Constitution, is an issue that the government must not use its resources to isolate and confine within the ambit of their power and influence.
The people deserve to know the truth. If people in power can suppress and deviate from the truth, only thing we can do is call on the international community and organizations to assist in enabling the truth to prevail. We are aware the government has crossed line which warrants the attention of the international community.
- SRC welcomes Fr Victor Roche of Catholic Bishops Conference of PNG and Solomon Island to mediate the issue
On behalf of the UPNG students, I welcome the initiative approach on behalf of the Catholic Church by Fr. Victor Roche of the Catholic Bishops Conference in Port Moresby to mediate the tension between the Government and the student body. PNG is a Christian country and their initiative is of paramount consideration.
- SRC welcomes government’s intention for commission of inquiry but on broader terms and conditions
On behalf of the UPNG Students, I embrace the decision of the government to form a commission of inquiry to investigate the issue. However, the government will be a party and subject to the investigation, therefore we will only and fully accept the decision on the following terms, but not restricted to any others:
(a) The Commission of Inquiry must be conducted by an independent and impartial body. It must not be a government organisation, or an organisation that is affiliated with any institution of the Government. It can be headed by any of the following organisations:
- The Catholic Bishop Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands,
- The Commonwealth
- The United Nations
(b) The terms of the inquiry must be broadened to include;
- An inquiry into why the referendum was not conducted
- An inquiry into all the UPNG Senate’s and Council’s decision relating this issue since day one
- An inquiry into who ordered the indiscriminate Police Shooting
- An inquiry to establish whether the O’Neill-led Government had breached human rights found in the National Constitution and the United Nations Charter on Human Rights
3. Student body appeals to UN and international community's intervention
Papua New Guinea is an independent State who is part of a greater international community. International community enjoys peace and harmony as result of mutual observance of some of the fundamental human rights such as those found in our Constitution.
These fundamental human rights found in our Constitution are derived from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UNHCR) which is charter of United Nation that deals with human rights.
Government actions on Wednesday amount to a breach of these rights found under UNCHR. PNG is member of United Nations; therefore we call on United Nations and the other Member States to intervene because these universal human rights have been violated.
In conclusion, the SRC on behalf of the student body wishes to inform the public that the university students have brought the fight this far. We have sacrificed our education and boycotted classes to address this national issue. After what transpired on Wednesday 8 June 2016, the students are exhausted.
The issue of returning to class Tuesday 14 June 2016, as prompt by the UPNG Administration is unrealistic and non-pragmatic because students are traumatised and are still recovering from what transpired on Wednesday.
Finally we still maintain our stance for prime minister Peter O’Neill to step down.