800 squatters evicted from 8-Mile settlement

National, Normal

The National – Wednesday, December 1, 2010

MORE than 800 people, mostly West Papuans residing on portion 2153 Granville state lease volume 2 folio 83 between 8-Mile and 9-Mile settlements, have been evicted from there.
The land is owned by former Maprik MP Sir Pita Lus, who wanted the settlers out so he could develop the land.
Following a court challenge, the court ordered last June that they be given ample time to move out.
Sir Pita believed he had given them ample time, and on Oct 1, got an order to force them out.
He ordered his men to go into the settlement on Monday and cut down all trees, including banana trees, under police supervision to pave way for new developments while the settlers were forced to vacate the land with their houses being demolished.
Yesterday, excavating machines were clearing the land under police presence while the people were pleading for Sir Pita to give ample time and look for alternative land somewhere as promised earlier.
A spokesman for Sir Pita said the settlers had to clear out to make way for them to develop the land.
Settlers’ spokesman Berry Kupar said the sudden bulldozing of food garden and houses was a surprise for them.
He said the settlers would move but they would be going back to court as the exercise was contradictory to the orders issued by the court.
Mother of five Rebecca Faruas said the West Papuans had been living on the land for many years.
She said they were assured by Sir Pita to occupy the land until such a time he tells them to move for development purposes and until he finds a place to resettle them.
There are about 80 houses on portion 2153 with more than 846 people likely to be affected in the exercise.