Fears for students still missing after PNG unrest

1:32 pm on 9 June 2016
Police stand at the students protests.

Police at the student protests. Photo: Twitter: @Mangiwantok

There are fears for the wellbeing of a number of students who remain missing after yesterday's unrest at the University of Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby.

This followed a day of unrest in the PNG capital, when police opened fire on students at the University of PNG ahead of a planned rally at parliament.

After police stopped students from leaving their campus and ordered them to disembark, tensions boiled over and some police started shooting.

Police said 23 people were reportedly injured from the unrest but said that no one was killed.

However, nearly 24 hours on, dozens of students are unaccounted for.

A student, Zacharia Yakap, described a scene of chaos with hundreds of students fleeing after police opened fire.

"The students went everywhere and since the police were even running into the campus looking for students, the students ran into nearby bushes where the police also followed through and shot them," he said.

"So at this moment we're not really sure where whoever is. It's like they've just shot where ever they were. So those that we could find and those that could make their way towards public help made it to the hospital and we're not certain of where the others are."

UPNG students meet on campus.

UPNG students meet on campus. Photo: UPNG4PNG

Meanwhile, Papua New Guinea's capital is in partial shutdown mode today following yesterday's unrest.

Reports emerging from Port Moresby today indicate that many public transport vehicles are not running this morning, and that businesses are closed.

Police say calm was restored after yesterday's unrest.

However citizens have expressed outrage at the police response to a peaceful student crowd, and student reps have not ruled out more mass mobilisations in coming days.

Police are also on high alert in the cities of Mt Hagen or Lae where students have rallied to express opposition to the police actions in the capital as well, as their continued call for the prime minister, Peter O'Neill, to stand down.

Patients from Manus moved away

The care of injured students in Port Moresby has delayed the treatment of 17 Manus Island detainees taken to the capital for medical attention.

A detainee still on Manus Island said two of the 17 have inflicted self-harm while Australia's Refugee Action Coalition said three others had gone on a hunger strike in protest at the lack of care.

The coalition's Ian Rintoul said the security situation in Port Moresby was also causing the 17 anxiety.

"Yesterday there were a couple of people in the hospital for appointments and they were very quickly evacuated as the injured started coming from the demonstration into the hospital. At the moment those 17 are being held in a hotel quite close to the hospital. The latest word I had last night was that they were quite safe, but they're obviously extremely anxious about their security now as well as whether they're going to get the health treatment that they actually need."

Ian Rintoul said conditions had deteriorated inside the Manus Island processing centre where there were frequent power cuts and a shortage of food.