University students from Papua New Guinea started a widespread boycott of their classes last May in protest at Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s handling of corruption allegations. The University of Papua New Guinea’s Waigani campus is considered the epicentre of the protest. The government and the university administration have been urging students to return to class to salvage the remaining months in the school year but the students demand one thing: the Prime Minister’s resignation.
Earlier this month, police opened fire on student protesters marching at an anti-corruption rally in their campus, which injured 17 people and sparked riots in the capital Port Moresby. There are conflicting reports of the number of injured, with an opposition member reportedly claiming that four people were killed.
More violence stemmed from this incident, while looting and rioting have been reported in several parts of Papua New Guinea since the unrest began. The students, who now harbor tremendous distrust towards authorities, demand for the university administration to apologise and guarantee their safety before they relent to go back to campus. After seven weeks of boycott, many students reportedly want to resume classes, but they are not confident they will be safe. The unrest has exposed deeper problems of Papua New Guinea.
Today, there are hopes that there will be reconciliation between the students and leading university officials. Let us continue to intercede for our Every Nation church, missionaries and local contacts in this culturally diverse nation. It is truly a test of faith, boldness, and obedience for our incoming missionaries as they prepare to preach the gospel in this country despite the dangers they may face. We are in faith that God is sovereign in Papua New Guinea and that miracles and transformed lives will continue to unfold.