UPNG reconciliation one-sided, say student leaders

Student leaders of the University of Papua New Guinea are concerned that today’s scheduled reconciliation ceremony will be a one-sided affair.

One of the leaders, Cameron Wari, told Loop PNG this morning that the purpose of a reconciliation is to forgive and forget.

“The student leaders are still terminated, which means the students are terminated.”

Another vocal leader of the UPNG Momase students, Yehingu Humungs, told his colleagues that the event today is not in the true spirit of forgiveness/reconciliation “as all our SRC leaders are implicated and sidelined on your behalf”.

He said today’s reconciliation ceremony will compromise the students’ values as individuals and agents of change.

The peace-making program, approved by the administration, includes the participation of the UPNG Tertiary Students Christian Fellowship (TSCF).

However, an executive of the group has distanced himself from the event, saying he was never consulted or given the opportunity to respond to the decision.

“We see from a more spiritual view of reconciliation (forgiveness). The reconciliation must be in line with Christian principles,” said the student leader.

“Both conflicting parties must be able to embrace each other, bury the past and look forward to the future. It is not in the interest of our Ministry in UPNG (Waigani) Campus.

“We have always taken the neutral stand to call for righteousness and justice to prevail.”

Nevertheless, acting chancellor Dr Nicholas Mann confirmed with Loop PNG that the event will proceed.

“The peace reconciliation must be between the students themselves; the different groups, the different factions, the pro-boycott and anti-boycott group and the different provinces,” Dr Mann recently said.

“Students themselves had gone in and harassed lecturers and those attending class.”

Included in the program is Dame Carol Kidu, Department of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology Secretary, Prof David Kavanamur, and UPNG vice-chancellor, Professor Albert Mellam.

(File picture of UPNG senior female students during their boycott in May.)

Carmella Gware