Locals want respect from highlanders

National, Normal

The National, Wednesday, June 8th 2011

HIGHLANDERS must have greater respect for Morobeans, a local leader says.
Kabwum Welfare Association chairman Stephen Boipe said Morobean missionaries, who took the Word of God to the highlands many years ago, did not teach people to be unfriendly, kill, fight, be prostitutes, pick-pockets, be aggressive, steal, be disrespectful or demand compensation.
Boipe said yesterday the people from Hagen should refrain from referring to God’s work in man-made problems.
Boipe, who is a distant relative of the Kabwum youth whose death last Thursday at Mambu Market on the Busu Back Road triggered an ethnic clash that saw trade stores and houses belonging to Hageners being burnt and looted, said Morobeans should get more respect from the highlanders than any other group.
“We brought the Gospel to you and what do we get in return?” Boipe asked.
“We allow them to come and settle with us and create businesses for themselves, marry our daughters and give them land to settle,” he said.
He said highlanders, especially the Hageners, seemed to invade Lae with all kinds of businesses and in doing so, brought with them unwanted people who made things hard for everyone.
Boipe said it Hageners who were involved in a clash with Morobeans at West Taraka a few years ago, then at Four Mile at the end of last year and now the most recent ethnic clash.
“We have never seen Hageners living in harmony with us or help the churches in any activities to show their appreciation,” he said.
Boipe, who was accompanied by KWA secretary Silas Porongi yesterday said there were a few Highland leaders  – Worinu Koi from Ogulbeng in Mt Hagen, Nathaniel Poiye from Southern Highlands and Engan businessman Jacob Luke – who had fit in very well with Morobeans.  
He said Luke had shown his appreciation for the Lutheran Church by buying a brand new tractor and donating it to the Martin Luther Seminary.
He said Poiye and Koi had helped the church in many ways over the years.
Boipe said the other Hageners or Highlanders who shut businesses operations like shops, kai bars, petrol stations, PMV busesc, in Lae because of the recent ethnic clash, “may as well pack up and return to their provinces”.
“We’d rather have a few businesses and a city free of petty crimes and criminal activities than a city clad with businesses and riddled with social issues,” Boipe said. 
He said if the Hageners were going to petition Morobe Governor Luther Wenge and his administration and send copies of the petition to all politicians from the five Highlands provinces, “then they should check themselves out thoroughly before doing so because they are the ones who caused problems for themselves”.
Unconfirmed reports yesterday said the youth who died was selling a mobile phone to three men, two Hageners and one was of a mixed Hagen and Sepik parentage.
After the transaction, the seller was set upon by the three men and a scuffle led to the boy’s death.
Police are still investigating.