The National, Tuesday, May 24, 2011
PAPUA New Guineans are all too familiar with the disruptive impact of ethnic violence.
Many major urban settings in PNG have become flashpoints of these murderous rampages.
Contrary to the popular saying that em problem namel blong ol yet (it’s their own problem), the fact is these acts of violence, perpetrated by a handful of people, directly impact on all Papua New Guineans.
We deserve to live in a secure environment – free from fear of these acts of violence.
The tribal mentality cannot be tolerated in our multi-cultural society.
To address this, the first issue in any national discussion on ethnic violence is the acknowledgement of the fact that PNG is a diverse society.
Those who turn to violence in the name of resolving their disagreements are definitely not from a particular group inhabiting this country.
PNG comprises of many ethnic and cultural groups with different value systems, conflict resolution methods and reputations.
This is the starting point to addressing the problem of ethnic violence.
To coexist, the good name and reputation of all Papua New Guineans matters.
Awareness messages should, therefore, seek to address the issue of ethnic violence in the context of PNG’s multi-cultural setting.
Perpetrators of ethnic violence must be made to look beyond their tribal and ethnic groups.
In an increasingly globalised world, the acts associated with ethnic violence merely perpetuate the image problem that PNG continues to have in the world.
Needless to say, all Papua New Guineans are stigmatised in the international press as prone to violence, even lawless by nature.
No respectable and honourable people deserve this kind of generalised stereotyping.
A workable area of intervention is the role of educated elites in carrying out awareness campaigns.
The moral responsibility of educated Papua New Guineans entails their role in educating their tribesmen about the society we live in.
Educated elites are role models in their tribes, clans and communities.
Their condemnation and role in educating their fellowmen about the impact of ethnic violence will play a decisive role.
Respect for other people is a basic tenet that all Melanesian societies teach.
Respect should be extended to include working to maintain the good name and image of all peace-loving Papua New Guineans.
Educated elites, who presumably want to see PNG in the “global village”, have a responsibility to teach their fellow tribesmen about living in such a diverse society.
Education should have civilizing effects on the behaviour all members of society.