Exxon-Mobil police accused of reprisal attack in Hela province

hela-people

Hela Province Tribesmen Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

Radio New Zealand is reporting [see below] that a police mobile squad employed by Exxon Mobil as security for its LNG project, has carried out a reprisal attack on innocent villagers in Papua New Guinea’s Hela Province.

A local Red Cross field worker says the police burnt almost 200 houses and destroyed property and livestock in retaliation for an earlier attack on a VIP convey that resulted in one death.

“Then the next morning, LNG security police, hired by (the LNG project developer) ExxonMobil – because one of the policemen that was injured was LNG security police – so they came up and they went for a raid, burning all properties,” he said.

“They went extreme, and even innocent people’s properties (were burnt), not the warriors’ place only.”

A local police commander has admitted, but downplayed the incident. According to Michael Welly, Hela Provincial Police Commander,

“Obviously they went and everybody hid them, so obviously one or two houses were put up in flames, yeah.”

Police mobile squads areare notorious for their violence and human rights abuses PNG, in many cases these are connected with major resource extraction industries.

PNG mobile police squads are notorious for their violence and human rights abuses

Situation tense in PNG’s Hela after convoy attack

Radio New Zealand | 29 November 2016

The Komo region in Papua New Guinea’s Hela Province remains tense after a deadly ambush on a convoy carrying MPs last week, according to the provincial police commander.

The attack was related to a tribal conflict and represents a near miss for the Komo Magarima MP, Francis Potape, who is also the Hela Governor, and the Higher Education Minister Francis Marus.

Last Tuesday, their convoy came upon a blockade in the remote region and the MPs’ vehicle was eventually forced to turn around.

However, a man in another of the convoy’s vehicles was identified as an enemy by the tribesmen manning the blockade and was forced out of the vehicle and shot at point blank range.

Another man from Tari died in a subsequent shootout, said Michael Welly, the Hela provincial police commander.

Mr Welly said that the next day police went to Ligame, where the suspects are from, but were unable to capture the men.

“When police went in, they all ran away into the bush. As you can imagine, it’s very difficult running after someone in the bush,” he said. “They’re still at large, but we know who the main suspects are and hope to have them apprehended some time later. But for now the situation is still tense.”

Claim of police reprisal

Meanwhile, the police mobile unit has been accused of launching a reprisal in their pursuit of the perpetrators after the deadly attack.

A local Red Cross field worker, Isaac Pulupe, said the tribal warriors who conducted the ambush were from Ligame.

“Then the next morning, LNG security police, hired by (the LNG project developer) ExxonMobil – because one of the policemen that was injured was LNG security police – so they came up and they went for a raid, burning all properties,” he said.

“They went extreme, and even innocent people’s properties (were burnt), not the warriors’ place only.”

Isaac Pulupe said almost 200 houses in Ligame were burnt or destroyed along with much of the village’s property and livestock.

However, Mr Welly played down this suggestion, explaining that the police mobile squad was asked to go to Ligame to search for the suspects.

“Obviously they went and everybody hid them, so obviously one or two houses were put up in flames, yeah.”

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1 Comment

Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea

One response to “Exxon-Mobil police accused of reprisal attack in Hela province

  1. Pingback: Exxon denials of complicity in police abuses should not fool anyone | Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

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