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University students seek mutual apologies

Thursday 23 June 2016 | Published in Regional

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PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Students of the University of Papua New Guinea have requested a formal reconciliation process with the institution’s administration before returning to class.

A spokesperson for the Student Council, Gerald Tulu Manu Peni, said students were prepared to apologise if the administration said sorry to students and condemned the actions of police on July 8.

On that day, police opened fire on students who had been boycotting classes for a month.

Four students where seriously injured while a further 19 required hospital treatment.

Manu Peni said the students have agreed to resume classes pending the reconciliation.

“The students agreed to go back to class next week, but this week there must be a formal reconciliation ceremony.”

“They must apologise to us and also condemn the actions of police before the students go back to class,” Manu Peni said.

He said the university had previously told students that the police action was a consequence of students not heeding the administration’s advice.

University administrators were due to meet to consider committing to the reconciliation process, Manu Peni said.

The Student Representative Council at the university has also launched legal action to nullify the reaffirmation forms that some students have been forced to sign.

Following the boycott, students returning to study were compelled to sign the forms by the university’s administration.

It is reported that all students at the university’s medical school resumed classes last week but the majority of students have yet to return.

Manu Peni said the forms deny students their right to protest.

“The reaffirmation notice is taking away our constitutional rights to free assembly and freedom of expression,” he said.

“It states that if we were to get involved in some form of unrest or boycott, we would be expelled on the spot.”

Manu Peni said the National Court in Port Moresby is due to hear the students’ application.

He said it is hoped the court action does not impede the reconciliation process.

- RNZI