The National- Wednesday, January 12, 2011
“THE first casualty of war is innocence” is a famous catch-phrase from the 1986 Oliver Stone film, Platoon, which is about a young recruit in Vietnam who faces a moral crisis when confronted with the horrors of war and the duality of man.
Fast forward to 2011, in Papua New Guinea, and we see those words ringing true in just about every town and city, and even the rural areas, as we deal with ubiquitous ethnic violence.
We, in PNG, can rightfully paraphrase the above to “the first victim of ethnic violence is innocence”.
Innocent men, women and children are being needlessly affected by the wave of ethnic violence sweeping this country.
A new year, a new decade, but there seems to be no respite from this evil in a country which we like to preach of as “Christian”.
Even our VIPs are not exempted from this vicious never-ending circle of gloom, doom, despair and no hope brought about by ethnic violence.
Last Monday, a state minister’s high covenant family home at 4-Mile in Lae, Morobe, was burnt to ashes during an ethnic clash.
on Monday, in Port Moresby, the home of former Kiriwina-Goodenough MP William Ebenosi was razed in a fight between Goilalas and Taris, which he had nothing to do with.
Public Service Minister and Esa’ala MP Moses Maladina, who was born and raised in Lae, was not at home.
Maladina, his siblings and parents grew up in that humble abode and are very much a respected family in Lae, however, they were not spared in that moment of madness.
Police said the incident happened at about 3.30pm after they had contained a nasty gun battle that morning.
The two-hour gun battle, allegedly between settlers from Mt Hagen in Western Highlands and the Lufa people from Goroka, residing at 4-Mile, marred what had been a peaceful festive season in the Morobean capital.
In Port Moresby, two people are dead and two have been hospitalised after an ethnic clash erupted between the Goilalas of Central and Taris of Southern Highlands last Sunday which escalated into the early hours of Monday.
Tension in the area was high with traffic was diverted and motorists told to take the Freeway into downtown area with no access into the 2-Mile and Badili areas.
Police said the ethnic clash began between 2pm and 3pm last Sunday and continued into Monday morning.
They said a Goilala man was killed and, as a result, Goilala people in the Koki area retaliated and killed a Tari man on Monday morning.
Two casualties were bystanders who had parts of their limbs chopped off.
One was a Chimbu woman who had her left arm severed, and a male whose foot was completely chopped off.
A number of houses and properties were destroyed in the fight, including that of Ebenosi.
Last Saturday, many people including school children and mothers received injuries to their bodies at Waghi Bridge in Western Highlands’ North Waghi district when supporters of an MP and a former MP clashed.
The people of North Waghi reportedly turned up in a big numbers at Waghi Bridge last Saturday morning to welcome former MP Dr Fabian Pok to present prize money to winning teams of a local competition he sponsored during the festive period.
Suddenly, like the horsemen of the apocalypse, supporters, allegedly to be those of North Waghi MP Benjamin Mul, descended from Nondugl in a 10-seater Toyota landcruiser, stopped their vehicle at the market, chased the people and caused destructions to the market.
Another supporter and a local businessman went to the grandstand, built inside Kerepa Primary School, and attacked women in traditional dress with stones.
A youngster was reported to have received a deep cut on his head from a stone missile, just one of the many innocent women and children.
Opposing tribes were now on the verge of going to war because of last Saturday’s incident, which also does not bode well for the volatile highlands and all of Papua New Guinea for that matter, with the 2012 elections just around the corner.
Then, again, “the first casualty of war is innocence”.