Papua New Guinea anti-WB/ IMF protest - Government killing protesters (June 2001)

Condemn PNG Government killing of protesters

Dear Comrades,

On Tuesday June 26 the Papua New Guinea government shot dead three students and wounded 17 others who were protesting against the IMF and World Bank, which is forcing a harsh privatisation regime on the country.

This is a further escalation of the violence against anti-globalisation protesters that we we saw in Gothenburg, and demands an immediate response from progressive forces around the world.

Attached below is a protest statement being circulated by the socialist youth organisation Resistance condemning the killings, and demanding action from the Howard government.

Please sign and circulate this statement, and return it to Resistance. Solidarity pickets are being held in several Australian cities over the next few days, and the statement will be distributed there and presented to the Australian government and PNG Embassy.

Please make your anger at this action known to the World Bank and the IMF, and to the PNG Government and the PNG Consulate or Embassy in your country.

Comradely greetings,

John Percy
National Secretary
Democratic Socialist Party


Protest to:

PNG Prime Minister
Sir Mekere Morauta

The World Bank
1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433 U.S.A.
tel: (202) 477-1234
fax: (202) 477-6391

International Monetary Fund,
700 19th Street, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20431
Tel: (202) 623-7000
Fax: (202) 623-4661

IMF Center
Tel: (202) 623-6869
Fax: (202) 623-6562

Support anti-IMF and World Bank protestors in Papua New Guinea

On the early morning of Tuesday 26 of June 2001, PNG police teargassed and opened fire on students protesting against the IMF and World Bank, resulting in 3 dead and 17 wounded. The violence followed a five day peaceful sit-in by up to 3000 University of PNG students, workers, and unemployed outside the office of Prime Minister of PNG, Mekere Morauta in Waigani, about 10 km from central Port Moresby. The demonstrators presented a petition to the Government calling for:

  • Suspend the entire privatisation scheme
  • Completely sever ties with the World Bank and IMF
  • Scrap the customary land registration scheme and
  • If the above are not implemented, the Prime Minister should resign or face a more serious protest with detrimental consequences.

The protestors had remained in order to get a response from the government. After the crowd had dwindled to several hundred, police closed in and told them to disperse. When they refused, tear gas was used and shotguns and automatic weapons fired.

By first light when news of the shooting spread people streamed into Waigana, looting, burning and stoning as they went.

Shops, schools and government offices were closed for the day, and the streets of the capital were deserted except for some students and police. Trade unions issued a call for Morauta to step down. They also threatened to close ports, shut down the national flag carrier Air Niugini and disrupt power supplies.

The following day, Port Moresby University campus was surrounded by police, in order to keep most of the students contained.

This comes as a result of the IMF and World Banks' instruction to the government of PNG to sell off the Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation which is the only bank owned by the government, and to be followed by the privatisation of the national airline, Air Niugini. Over the past three years PNG's water supplies and electricity have been sold off in a hope to bail the country out of the economic crisis. However the economy of the country has continued to deteriorate.

These protests follow on from ones earlier this year when students marched to Murray barracks to support troops who had seized weapons and were also demanding that the World Bank should leave PNG, along with the government's Australian advisers.

Alexander Downer, Australian Foreign Affairs minister has not condemned the PNG police for the shootings and he has reaffirmed the Australian government's total support for the privatisation program.

These protests are a clear sign of the rejection of the influence of the IMF and World Bank into PNG. As supporters of the fight against these international financial institutions, protests have been initiated across Australia to actively build solidarity with the PNG activists struggle against the IMF and World Bank, and the lethal tactics used by police to disperse protestors, resulting in 3 dead and 17 wounded.

We demand:

  • IMF and World Bank out of PNG
  • End privatisation
  • Abolish the IMF, WTO and World Bank
  • That the Australian government condemns the violence against protestors in PNG
  • That the Australian government gives massively increased unconditional aid for development in PNG

Endorsed by:

Please send e-mails to Resistance: to add your name to the statement. For information on when protests will be happening call (02) 9690 1230.

Papua New Guinea anti WB/ IMF Struggles | WB/ IMF Asia | WB/ IMF Struggles

Eyewitness reports: MANY DEATHS in Papua New Guinea

...though unconfirmed by me - i take no responsibility for accuracy...

You may have seen and heard from media, but here are the facts on the situation at the moment in PNG. Bro. our war becomes more complicated as things began to unfold to us . We are not just figthing the IMF..WB, it is now apparent that we are also figthing our own government who has willingly avail itself to be used by these vampires to carry out their evils. Anyway, the prime minister stepped out and recieved the petition from the students but with hidden motives which none of us students knew. Upon receiving our petition he ordered shot-out arround 3am in the early hours of the morning today (26/06/2001). Beginning around that early hours of the morning till the dawn of the day (~5hrs) there was a confrontation between students and 60 fully armed policemen sponsored by the government and the WB who had flown in from Mt Hagen (one of the higlands provinces). Two students died instantly and several others were in critical conditions. A mother and her child were also shot dead and many more who are non-students but had taken part in the demonstration were also reported dead but we do not confirm it simply because police are everywhere at the moment shooting at anybody moving about.

Bro. Like I said media may report their views but this is the first hand information I'm sending you. OUR FIGHT IS NOT OVER!! We planned a dignified burial on those students who died from this protest. They died a hero and their names will surely go down in the history of our country and their memories will linger. Tommorrow (27/06/2001) will be the mourning day.

The economic activity today comes to a standstill. No cars moving arround. As a result of the confrontation students burnt down a resturant that was partly owned by the prime minister. Several government vehicels were also burnt down by the students and the general public. Bro. it's the entire population against the government and the IMF..WB. Media may have their own story to tell and as usual may spread their propaganda against us, but bro. this is what's happening right here in PNG.

Papua New Guinea anti WB/ IMF Struggles | WB/ IMF Asia | WB/ IMF Struggles

Up to 6 Anti-IMF/WB protestors killed by police in PNG

Sydney Morning Herald, 28 Jun 01

Troops march as capital grinds to halt

By Craig Skehan, Foreign Affairs Correspondent

A group of Papua New Guinean soldiers marched yesterday to mourn student protesters killed by riot squad police as a dusk-to-dawn curfew was imposed in the capital, Port Moresby.

Against the backdrop of serious military unrest in March, the symbolic gesture added to pressure on the Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta. However, the Australian Government warned Sir Mekere against giving in to demonstrations against privatisation and land ownership reforms.

"If Papua New Guinea stumbles and the reform program is abandoned it will be a disaster for the economy, and it will be a disaster for the people of PNG," the Foreign Minister, Mr Downer, said.

There were reports yesterday that the death toll from three days of disturbances had risen to six. Four deaths, including three students, had already been confirmed.

The country's main ports remained idle because of industrial action, public transport in Port Moresby virtually ground to a halt and most businesses were closed.

The country's trade unions said they were trying to organise a national strike.

Sir Mekere called for an end to violence and for all citizens to observe the 7pm to 5am curfew.

More than 2,000 protesters gathered yesterday outside Port Moresby General Hospital, where the bodies of three students shot by police are in a morgue.

There were arguments, including scuffles, over attempts by angry students to obtain the bodies and take them to the Prime Minister's office at the national parliament. Heavily armed police blocked the proposed route.

Speakers at the protest called for the expulsion of representatives of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, which support privatisation and changes to ownership laws covering tribal lands.

Yesterday morning about 60 military personnel marched with heads bowed to express remorse over the deaths of student protesters. The defence force commander, Brigadier-General Carl Malpo, later called on soldiers not to be drawn into the protests.

In March a group of soldiers seized dozens of weapons and staged a 12-day revolt over government plans to downsize the defence force.

Acting Police Commissioner Joseph Kupo said yesterday that deployment of the army was 'inevitable if the situation escalates".

It is unclear whether such a move would split the armed forces.

Student leaders have called on the military to withdraw support from Sir Mekere's Government. There are fears that the funerals of at least three Highlanders killed by police could spark rioting in provincial centres such as Mount Hagen.

Groups of civilians, many smeared with ash as a sign of mourning, walked yesterday with their hands on their heads, alluding to claims that the students who died had raised their hands to show they were not armed. The Government has maintained that the riot squad was responding to criminal acts, including the burning of a police barracks. However, the general-secretary of the PNG Trade Union Congress, Mr John Paska, said the killings were an over-reaction.

"It was completely unprovoked. They were just a bunch of thugs chasing unarmed students in their own yard and shooting them like hunters."

SMH Copyright.

Australian ABC News, 28 Jun 01

PNG students identify police accused of killings

Students at the University of Papua New Guinea have identified police they accuse of killing three student protesters during clashes on Tuesday morning.

Leaders of the university student representative council say mobile squad police, flown in from the western highlands, stormed the university campus shooting out lights and knocking down fences.

They accuse the police of using high powered weapons and opening fire on students as they were retreating or lying on the ground.

The vice-president of PNG's National Union of Students, Paul-John Orthas, says the police action was unjustified.

"Police came in full war gear, they came with...M-16s, tear gas," he said.

"Students were harmless...they [the police] even followed the students into the campus and no police are allowed to enter the campus... and the students were shot dead there in the campus."


University students have called for an independent inquiry, as some senior police are denying responsibility for the shootings.

The PNG Prime Minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, has said that a commission of inquiry will be announced tomorrow and headed by a senior judge.

In an interview with the ABC, he expressed his regret over the incident.

"It's very tense and you know we've lost three university students, it's a terrible thing to have happened and I personally am very saddened by it," he said.

PNG's Police Minister, Jimson Sauk, has also promised an inquiry into the shootings and the circumstances that triggered a series of violent clashes after police broke up what had been a peaceful protest.


On the early morning of Tuesday 26 of June 2001, PNG police teargassed and opened fire on students protesting against the IMF and World Bank, resulting in 3 dead and 17 wounded. The violence followed a five day peaceful sit-in by up to 3000 University of PNG students, workers, and unemployed outside the office of Prime Minister of PNG, Mekere Morauta in Waigani, about 10 km from central Port Moresby. The demonstrators presented a petition to the Government calling for

  • suspend the entire privatisation scheme
  • completely severe ties with the World Bank and IMF
  • Scrap the customary land registration scheme and
  • If the above are not implemented, the Prime Minister should resign or face a more serious protest with detrimental consequences.

Papua New Guinea anti WB/ IMF Struggles | WB/ IMF Asia | WB/ IMF Struggles

Papua New Guinea privatisation update

News from Papua New Guinea, where anti-IMF protests recently left several dead:

from The National, Port Moresby, 4 July

Court ruling may halt entire privatisation process


WITH the nation's eyes riveted on the University protest and the related tragic events of last week, few may have taken notice of the court decisions relating to the Privatisation Commission.

The implications of these decisions on the Government's privatisation program, a subject at the centre of the protests, are substantial.

They may go as far as halting the entire process of privatisation, a cornerstone policy of the Morauta Government.

The National Court last month decided that the liabilities of the State-owned Papua New Guinea Banking Corporation were transferred, together with its assets to the Privatisation Commission, which is the agent preparing the bank for eventual privatisation.

In the process of preparing the bank for privatisation, the Government had initially organised for the transfer of only the bank's assets to the Privatisation Commission and left behind the liabilities with the bank.

In the case of Kenneth Bromley vs the Privatisation Commission, the former bank employee contested that contractual obligations owing to him to the tune of K1.6 million plus interest were now the responsibility of the Privatisation Commission, arguing that the liabilities of the bank were now inherited by the Privatisation Commission. The National Court agreed this was so and ruled in his favour.

The Privatisation Commission last week failed in its bid to stay the court order and on Friday paid K1.7 million into the National Court registry to stop itself from being placed under receivership.

The payment removes the injunction on the sale of PNGBC but the entire privatisation process may now be halted because of the precedent this decision sets.

Every other State-owned enterprise earmarked for privatisation will now transfer both assets and liabilities to the Privatisation Commission and some of those liabilities are in the millions of kina.

The Commission has neither the budget and manpower nor the mandate to deal with the liabilities of these entities.

As an example, the National Court ruled on Monday, July 2 that the Motor Vehicles Insurance Limited is responsible for damages and liabilities incurred while it was operating under a trust. The court further ruled that all its liabilities and damages claims amounting to millions of kina are the responsibility of the PNGBC, which owns MVIL through its holding company. This clearly means that the MVIL liabilities at over K100 million might also be transferred to the Privatisation Commission.

The deed of Settlement and Indemnity signed between the liquidator and MVIL makes it absolutely clear and inescapable for the bank to meet all MVIL liabilities. If it were to dispose of MVIL liabilities, MVIL would be left with assets totalling a mere K4.971 million.

Such is the magnitude of the decision that the privatisation process might never get under way.

This is an area where even the World Bank and IMF cannot intrude unless they want to fund the massive liabilities of all the statutory organisations.

In the first place, it was farcical to even contemplate that you can separate the assets of a company and dispose of it and leave the liabilities alone.

The University student protest may not now even be an issue as the central tenet of their contention may be halted as a matter of course.

It is also as good a time and as divine an opportunity as any for the Government to use this court case to review the privatisation program under its present format.

Papua New Guinea anti WB/ IMF Struggles | WB/ IMF Asia | WB/ IMF Struggles