Union Federation Appalled at Police Action in PNG Shootings

The Maritime International Federation (MIF), which consists of regional transport unions, is disturbed by the heavy handed approach of police in Papua New Guinea in the wake of today’s shootings.

A union organiser from MIF affiliate - PNG Maritime and Transport Worker’s Union- was close to the scene when things erupted. He said at least two students in their early twenties had been killed and that approximately a dozen people were hospitalised, some of whom were in intensive care. The death toll may rise.

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MIF executive director Mick Doleman said the federation condemns the shooting and is calling for calm, to stop more people from being killed, or injured.

“The right to protest and strike is an issue close to our hearts in the union movement and students, like workers, should be able to engage in rallies without fear of injury, or death,” Mr Doleman said.

“We’re very disturbed that police would use fatal force when students were marching peacefully to end corruption.” 

The organiser reported that students had even gone so far as to legally register their protest, which was coinciding with a vote of no confidence being tabled in parliament today by the PNG opposition.

“Students are often at the forefront of social change, and for that they should be applauded, not shot,” Mr Doleman said referring to their role in the country’s independence in 1975.

“Today we stand in solidarity with the students and our sympathies are with the families of the students that have died.

“No more blood needs to be shed and we hope, as neighbours and close friends of the people of Papua New Guinea, a resolution on this incident can be achieved swiftly without further violence.”

MIF is made up of the Maritime Union of Australia, the Maritime Union of New Zealand and East Timorese union – SMETL, in addition to PNGMTWU