Allan Mogerema, human rights defender and Paga Hill community leader stated: “Today, I am making a stand in solidarity with both the rightful customary landowners of Paga Hill in Port Moresby, Gekone clan of Motu Koita (the Dirona family), and my Paga Hill community, against all types of land grabbing.
“The PNG and Australian governments and two Australian corporations are complicit in the human rights abuses inflicted on my community. Justice must be served!
“We were illegally evicted, and our homes demolished to make way for the international APEC summit happening at the end of this week.
“PNG's economy is already in crisis, the only people that will benefit will be the political elite while the rest of PNG will bear the brunt, like my community already has.”
The Paga Hill Community campaign, #Justice4Paga, has been running since 2012 with international support from the International State Crime Initiative, Human Rights Law Centre, Aid/WATCH, Jubilee Australia and The Opposition team. Paga Hill Community partner, AID/WATCH is calling for global summits like APEC 2018 to not be bankrolled by development aid.
Natalie Lowrey, AID/WATCH coordinator, stated: “Australian public money has ensured that APEC could take place on the controversial Paga Hill land grabbing project. At least $75m has been committed, $50m of this being ‘development assistance’ towards security for APEC,” she stated.
“This does not mesh with Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) priorities which should rightly be focused on health and education – nearly every PNG public health facility is currently facing medicine shortages. This is a gross misuse of precious aid money.
“Holding the APEC 2018 summit at Paga Hill only further rewards and enriches the land grabbers. APEC 2018, like so many APEC’s gone, only legitimises the flagrant disregard of fundamental human rights for local communities.”
Mogerema continued: “We have used all the mechanisms – justice system, peaceful protest, research, art and awareness, and international solidarity to protect our basic human rights and to stop my community from being illegally demolished. Our voices were ignored.
“No matter how long it takes our community will get justice.”
Allan Mogerema is touring the east coast of Australia with internationally acclaimed investigative documentary, The Opposition, a film about the Paga Hill community’s fight for justice from the illegal eviction and demolition of their homes in downtown Port Moresby. He will be speaking at an AID/WATCH event at USYD this Thursday and at the Australian Corporate Accountability Network’s symposium this Friday.
(File picture of the 2012 demolition site by International State Crime Initiative)