Zero tolerance on sorcery

Editorial, Normal

The National, Wednesday, May 25, 2011

THE late member for Kundiawa-Gembogl, Joe Mek Teine, was investigating the deep-rooted belief and practice of sorcery when he died on Easter Monday.
On the same day, another well known senior Chimbu personality, Joseph Dorpar, also succumbed to an apparent heart attack in his hotel room in Port Moresby and was declared dead on arrival at the Port Moresby International Hospital.
Two days after Dorpar’s burial, a Kerowagi villager “confessed” under duress to using sorcery to kill the former administrator.
The villager, who was badly beaten up by a mob, said eight other “sorcerers had collaborated” with him to cast their death wish on Dorpar.
The confession was elicited in a crowd of angry villagers who convened a kangaroo court to find out who was responsible for the death.
And, so, whatever the medical certificate will state for all and sundry to see, in that village where Dorpar hailed from and in surrounding areas, the prognosis for death would be sorcery.
A glasman, who is supposedly able to confirm “beyond any reasonable doubt” those who were involved, will, in time, determine whether the villager did use sorcery to kill the leader and whether he had the assistance of those he had named as having assisted him.
Retribution will be harsh and swift upon those so accused.
One more sorcery death avenged and in the minds of the majority of people educated and not-so-educated that is that.
PNG accepts sorcery and it will be a long time before it is removed the people’s psyche.
But, consider the story we run today.
The story of a seven-year-old boy who was stoned by his elementary schoolmates on Monday afternoon in Jiwaka’s Kudjip town for nothing other than the fact that his parents had been chased out of the village for allegedly practising sorcery.
The boy was on his way home from elementary school when his friends teased him and accused him of being the child of parents who practised sorcery.
This had been ongoing for some time but, on Monday, he was chased from school by a group of screaming pupils and beaten up.
He received a huge cut to his forehead.
The boy, from Banz in North Waghi, was living with a caretaker in Kudjip after his parents, who were accused of practising sorcery, were driven away from their village.
The boy’s mother had been accused of using sorcery to kill a man in 2008 and had been captured by angry relatives of the deceased, and tortured many times, during the funeral, in order for her to admit that she was a sorcerer.
She was in the later stages of her pregnancy at the time and, when she refused to admit that she was a sorcerer, the villagers hanged her.
While she was hanging from the rope, she gave birth to her second child, a daughter. Her husband and other relatives freed her but she lost her daughter.
Can we blame the little children who chased their fellow classmate and beat him up?
No, we cannot.
This is the kind of society in which we have raised our kids. They were only doing what they had been raised to do, to believe that one such as themselves is guilty of sorcery by
association because that is exactly how their parents would believe and would react.
And, so, one more child is ostracised from the community because he is guilty by association.
Until and unless Papua New Guinea wakes up and drives the demon in our midst, which will have us believe in sorcery and which will drive us by fear to inflict such terrible and harsh punishments on others because of an innate, primeval fear, then we are lost as a society.
The Constitutional Review Committee, which Teine once headed, must continue the noble task he started to take a good hard look at sorcery with a view to amending the existing laws.
We also support initiatives such as that of the Foundation for Humanitarian Advocacy Association which is attempting to outlaw and eradicate these beliefs.
The government must seriously look into sorcery because its effects on society are very damaging.