Expunge sorcery and tribal fights

Editorial, Normal

THERE can be no two disruptive traditional practices that have been carried into modern PNG with such chaotic consequences as are sorcery and tribal fights.
Instead of education and modernisation dispelling these two violent practices, they have become entrenched in today’s society and appear, for all intent and purpose to be growing.
The sooner these two practices are outlawed, the better Papua New Guinea will be.
Tribal fights flare up all over the five Highlands provinces. Businessmen, professionals and even MPs get involved in the conflicts.
The proliferation of guns has taken the conflicts to another level where there is now capacity for wholesale massacres.
Entire communities have been uprooted and dispersed to different parts of the country, perhaps never to return again.
The consequences upon the cultural practices and language of the dispersed community will no doubt suffer drastically.
Tribal fights can and will be contained once the Government has taken control of the gun problem in the country.
Gen (rtd) Jerry Singirok warned that guns posed a serious security threat to PNG. He would know. As the man who led the Guns Committee on a road show covering the country, Gen Singirok has a fair idea of the extent of the problem.
His Guns Committee Report has been with Government for five years without much interest or action shown.
The National has raised this matter of guns in this space perhaps more times than it has HIV/ AIDS.
The guns issue has the same gravity as that of HIV/AIDS with but one important difference.
The guns disease is curable.
Civil society and the public is at a loss as to why the Government will not move on the guns issue.
Might it have to do with the fact that up to 30 MPs in the current Parliament are known by the police to have their own illegal arms caches?
If this turns out to be fact, then PNG is in deep trouble.
The other nemesis of peace-loving Papua New Guineans is the paranoia over sorcery that seems to have gripped the community and particularly the associated violence.
PNG, having emerged from the Stone Age in the last century, is only just emerging into the dark ages in Europe when witches would be burnt at the stake.
Men, women and children are murdered in cold blood all over the country over sorcery claims.
In a sorcery-related killing, an old woman had her hair burnt, then shoved in a bag and thrown into the Waghi River with stones tied to the bag as weights.
For good measure, her nine-year-old niece was beheaded as she was returning from the garden.
Just outside Mt Hagen in a sorcery-related kangaroo court, a father and son was hung and burnt alive.
Police turned up but were forced back by villagers who seemed to have far superior firepower in guns.
The police reported the matter to HQ and did not pursue the case further.
Not only had a double murder been committed but police refused to mobilise to capture illegal high powered firearms.
The reactions by authorities are confused or confusing.
Following a sorcery-related fight in the Bamuna area in the Nondugl sub-district of Western Highlands province, which left seven men in critical condition, the police commander said anybody taking innocent lives would face the full brunt of the law.
Whatever that meant, police presence was reduced, not increased as the problem boiled over into a full-scale tribal war.
On many an occasion, when a person is alleged to have been killed by sorcery, authorities try to conduct a post-mortem to prove whether or not it is so.
One can understand the motive which is to prove that the person died of natural cause and not from sorcery because it is forever difficult to proof sorcery’s physical manifestation on a body.
Unwittingly, such an approach confirms to the sorcery believers that even the authorities are confirming sorcery by going through the motions of conducting a post-mortem.
It can never be proven. Believe in sorcery is archaic and has no place in modern society. It is repugnant and a putrid stench on the skin of society and must be expunged.