Woman leader disputes negative portrayal of Manus

It is upsetting that the peaceful people of Manus Province are being negatively portrayed by international media.

Woman leader Lucielle Paru expressed concern over the damaging image being showcased through the Manus asylum seekers situation.

“Within PNG, we know that we are wonderful people. But the way the international people keep stressing that Manus is full of violence and the asylum seekers are unsafe around Lorengau, or anywhere within Manus, is really, really bad,” says Paru.

Paru points out that though the asylum seekers do not have access to food and water at the detention centre, Manus locals have stepped in to help.

“Our international friends need to realise that our people are not violent!

“You talk about hospitality, you talk about food…these are beautiful people.”

She questions why we are letting people come into our country, paint a bad picture of us then display it to the rest of the world.

Furthermore, hasty generalisation is the main factor behind the spread of fear, hate and dissent in PNG as well as around the world.

For example, unverified, biased statements have led other countries to believe that the people of PNG are cannibals and violent. This in turn has angered Papua New Guineans.

The same principle can be applied to the asylum seekers, who are not terrorists, says the woman leader.

“We need to start understanding exactly where these people are from,” clarifies Paru.

“There are some that are from Pakistan, some from Iran…they are all from different places. They all have individual stories of where they came from, where they are trying to get to.

“They are trying to find happiness because their countries are in turmoil.

“It could easily happen here. It’s just like us saying a particular Highlander left the highlands because of tribal fighting.”

Meanwhile, Paru says Manus people are raising money to make sure the asylum seekers are fed.

(Lorengau, Manus Province)

Carmella Gware