Settler dies during alleged forced Madang eviction

Settlers at Handy Mart settlement in Madang are mourning the death of another settler who died during the alleged forced eviction on the morning of April 9.

This was a spill over from the protest by locals over being bullied in their own land.

The deceased, who was quite sick at that time, tried to escape when he heard police gunshots, but fell down a steep slope and died instantly.

They said on April 9 police came into the settlement, ordering everyone to pack up and get ready to board PMVs that would take them to their province of origin, mostly in the highlands region.

The settlers said police told them the order had come from the Madang MP, and they had to be ready in 3 hours.

“Bryan Kramer came and told us to pack up and wait for PMVs to take us back,” one of the settlers told this newsroom.

“We packed but he didn’t return with the PMVs. Instead, the mobile squad came and burnt down our home.”

A week later, settlers at Handy Mart settlement remain gravely concerned that they may be told to move out, in spite of Governor Peter Yama’s call that evicting settlers was not the best option.

While their relative lies in the morgue at the Modilon General Hospital, they are pleading for the provincial government to consider their plight and let them remain in Madang because a majority have been here most of their lives.

Most of the settlers are from Pangia, in the Southern Highlands Province.

Meantime, the local people of Madang District presented a petition to Governor Yama on Tuesday calling for the removal of settlers on both state and customary land.

(The charred remains of a building at the Handy Mart settlement)

Freddy Mou