Students: They shot at us like criminals

Main Stories, National
The National,Thursday June 9th, 2016

STUDENTS at the University of Papua New Guinea claim that they were assaulted and shot at by police “like criminals” when trying to stage a peaceful march to Parliament yesterday.
Students Representative Council president Kenneth Rapa told The National yesterday that they were organising “a peaceful march to Parliament to demonstrate our concerns to the MPs who have been very ignorant on the national issues affecting PNG”.
He said a stay order the SRC obtained from the National Court last week stated that police were not supposed to stop students from holding any public forums or making public demonstrations”.
“(It said) police will have to support the students in ensuring that any public forums held should be peaceful – and we have followed that,” Rapa said.
“So when we try to walk out of the university campus to Parliament, police were at the gate preventing us.
“We haven’t done anything wrong and we are wondering why police tried to stop us. We argued for almost an hour and National Capital District Metropolitan Superintendent Benjamin Turi tried to arrest me for leading the students.”
He claimed that Turi came forward and grabbed his shirt to make the arrest, but the students pushed him back.
“His police officers immediately fired several gun shots and tear gas on the innocent students protesting,” he said.
“I was hit by a tear gas on my chest and I lost consciousness and was rushed to the dormitory. I don’t know what happened thereafter,” Rapa told The National yesterday.
He said police reacted “as if we are criminals trying to rob a bank or a shop”.  “Anywhere in the world where we have democracy, police have not reacted in such way to public demonstrations,” he said.
There are other ways they could have reacted to control the protesting students.”