The National, Friday July 19th, 2013
By MALUM NALU and MIRIAM MALAWA
MORE than 5,000 University PNG students and supporters staged a peaceful protest match to Waigani yesterday to present a petition to the Government on last weekend’s rampage at UPNG’s Medical Faculty by soldiers from Taurama Barracks.
The students, led by medical students and divided into provincial groups waving their respective flags and chanting “trained to serve, not to kill”, started marching from the Waigani campus at 11am and reached the National Library at 12.30pm where ministers, governors and other MPs met them.
Unarmed police were with the students all the way, and dissuading the public from joining for fear of opportunistic trouble as in many past protest marches.
The university’s security service, Uni-Force, also provided security for the protest march.
Students’ Representative Council (SRC) president Peter Numu said their petitions also concerned the proposed constitutional changes and new laws on tougher penalties for crimes such as murder and rape, including death penalty.
Numu said the first petition on the incident at the Medical Faculty comprised short-term and long-term conditions which they wanted addressed within 24 hours.
It is also understood that police chief of operations Supt Perou N’dranou took a gamble by allowing the students to march.
It would take at least seven days notice before any protest was allowed. Had there been any trouble, he would have been in trouble with his superiors.
N’dranou was with the students from the start, addressing them at the UPNG forum where they gathered yesterday morning.
He walked with them to Waigani, constantly reminding them to be “peaceful”.
When the march was over after 2pm, he was a relieved person.
“The guarantee they gave me of a peaceful march was exhibited today and I’m very happy about that,” N’dranou told The National.
“It (march) was illegal but it was a win-win situation.
“The march was done very well, was peaceful, and achieved its objectives,” he said.