Ex-soldiers ask govt to reinstate them

Main Stories, National

The Nationl, Monday 3rd September, 2012

A GROUP of Papua New Guinea Defence Force soldiers jailed for mutiny in 2002 are calling on the O’Neill government to reinstate them.
The 31 privates and corporals from Moem Barracks, Wewak, East Sepik, said they wanted to be treated like last year’s mutineers.
Early this year, soldiers from Murray Barracks in Port Moresby mutinied to try to depose the commander at the height of the political impasse but were later pardoned and retained in the force.  
Former private Simon Konga expressed concern at their suspension and jailing for 15 years, while colleagues were asked to stay in the force.
“Our side is the same as last year, but we were jailed and suspended from the force”.
“ A mutiny took place this year but no one was arrested or charged,” he said.
 He said in 2002 there was no bloodshed and arms were returned peacefully but they were sentenced to 15 years in jail.
“What we were doing was for the good of nation and it was the politicians who interfered to use this situation,” he said.
“We did not demand the resignation of former prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta; that was politicians who were playing politics but our side is clear as we were fighting for the good of the nation.”
He said their stand was clear on issues regarding the downsizing of the military, land privatisation and for the change of name of the Queensland gas pipeline to the PNG gas pipeline or Kumul gas pipeline.
“We did took the action for the good of the people and the country, if it wasn’t done then politicians would have taken over the pride of our beautiful nation,”
He said they were released from the jail because their appeal to the Supreme Court was pending.
Konga said they had appealed to Defence Minister Fabian Pok, Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Kerenga Kua and Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to reinstate them.