This week, marks three years since UPNG students were shot at a public gathering.
Days leading up to the shootings. They were belittled, scorned and told that their opinions did not matter. They coined the hashtag #UPNG4PNG. Girls dressed in black extended the campaign on social media. Many, were uncertain about the outcome. Many were unsure if what they were doing was the right thing by their parents, their families and their country.
The ‘adults’ mocked them. The public servants told them to go back to school and forget about politics because they were ‘not qualified’ to talk about what happened in the seat of power.
UPNG President, Kenneth Rapa, and other student leaders called for the resignation of the Prime Minister. Hercules Palme Jim, travelled with a group of students to the Highlands in a campaign that challenged the status quo when everyone was too afraid to speak out.
On June 8, police shot into the crowd of students injuring some of them. Students were chased and teargassed. NBC journalist Rose Amos was assaulted by police.
The UPNG administration later penalized students for being part of the protest while their comrades lay injured in hospital. Some were told they would not graduate that year.
This is what they campaigned for:
- Greater transparency in government
- A stop to the overseas borrowing
- Resignation of the Prime Minister
They stood up for a democracy when everyone else was too afraid.