THE University of PNG Student Representative Council has welcomed a Government decision to have a commission of inquiry investigate the ongoing students’ protest, but says their boycotting of classes will continue.
Council president Kenneth Rapa in a statement released on social media last Saturday said they welcomed the inquiry but it must be conducted by an independent and impartial body, and to have broader terms.
“It must not be a Government organisation, or an organisation that is affiliated with any institution of the Government,” Rapa said.
He suggested that the inquiry be headed by either the Catholic Bishop Conference of PNG and Solomon Islands, the Commonwealth, or the United Nations.
He said the terms must be broad to include investigation into:
- Why the referendum was not conducted;
- all the decisions by the UPNG Senate and Council relating to the issue since day one;
- who ordered the police shooting; and,
- Whether the Government had breached human rights under the PNG Constitution and the United Nations Charter on Human Rights.
He said the university students had brought the fight this far.
“We have sacrificed our education and boycotted classes to address this national issue. After what transpired on Wednesday June 8, 2016, the students are exhausted,” he said.
Rapa said the call by the UPNG administration for students to return to classes today was “unrealistic and non-pragmatic”.
He said students were traumatised and were still recovering from last Wednesday’s event.
Chief Secretary Issac Lupari last Thursday said the Government would investigate how students at UPNG had been paying for travel costs and other expenses during their uprising in Port Moresby.
This is apart from the inquiry announced by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in Parliament last week to determine “the underlying reasons for continued student unrest promoted by individuals outside the student body”.
Lupari said the investigation would find out where the students were receiving funding from to move around in vehicles and buy airline tickets to travel to centres outside Port Moresby.
Trouble flared last Wednesday when students who were attempting to stage a march to Parliament clashed with armed police. Shots were fired resulting in injuries to at least 16 people. Some properties in campus and in Port Moresby were damaged. The violence sparked off riots in Lae and Mt Hagen.