Violence needs to stop


THE plea for government assistance by those affected by tribal fights in the country should not be taken casually.
Reports of killings, destruction of properties and violence has been hitting the media in the past months especially in the Highlands region.
The culture of tribal fighting has long been present in that region, a strange preoccupation in an area of such breathtaking landscapes.
A naive approach for revenge often drags out conflict for years and generations, as the logic of peace is overlooked in favour of instability.
Tribal wars have horrific impacts on surrounding communities.
Now the UN Convention on the rights of the child states that children have the right to grow up without violence. That’s already a violation of human rights.
Nevertheless, it is estimated that 75 per cent of children in PNG experience violence at some point during their childhood.
Evidence shows that children who have witnessed violence often suffer severe psychological trauma that has devastating consequences on their mental and physical health.
A report compiled by Devpolicy blog in 2017 quotes Mark Kessler, head of ICRC (International Community of the Red Cross) Papua New Guinea: Tribal warfare in the Highlands has been due to three key factors.
First is the availability of guns.
Not only have guns become more ubiquitous, there are some who are acting as mercenaries, who are contracted by clans to fight against their enemies.
Mark also noted an interesting second factor that has helped to exacerbate conflict: the spread of mobile phone connectivity and greater mobility, which has meant that: the fights spread out faster and on a larger area.
It can also (mean) that people in a really different place [to where the main fighting is going on] just get attacked.
Mark was concerned that conflict has been worsened by an intergenerational struggle, where the young want to bypass more traditional routes to becoming a “big man”: the young people, they want guns.
So there you go, from bow and arrows to factory guns.
ICRC reports that in the Highlands, tribal fights is sparked by disputes over land, resources and other grievances which lead to dozens of deaths and thousands of displacements each year.
From reported cases, tribal fighting is ongoing in Sugu Valley, Southern Highlands, Western Highlands and Hela.
An influx of guns and a general breakdown in the traditional rules governing warfare are amplifying the effects of the violence.
Today, no one is spared from the ferocity of a fight.
Children, mothers, pastors, health-care workers – all have become targets.
Just last week, 16 women and two infants were killed in Karida village Hela in retaliation for the killing of six men at Munima.
The “an eye for an eye (and a tooth for a tooth)” approach
has become a standard form of solving problems. The principal meaning is that if you believe someone does something wrong, that person should be punished by having the same thing done to them.
A Biblical perspective is fixed in the principle of revenge: punishment is deserved in proportion to the seriousness of an offence.
We have come off the primitive and by now should lean towards allowing the law to take its course and let those who wrong feel the full brunt of it.
Punishment is a universal phenomenon.
No human society confronted with violations of its laws or customs leaves itself powerless to impose sanctions.
For all this accrued experience of dealing with offenders, punishment remains a problematic matter under constant debate.