Port Moseby: Human rights activist and sole Papua New Guinea (PNG) female elected parliamentarian Dame Carol Kidu was dragged by police Saturday while protesting the illegal eviction and partial demolition of Paga Hill Settlement, housing some 2,000 residents.
Dame Kidu went to the site to investigate claims of demolition and upon arrival was confronted by police. According to a statement from her daughter Dobi Kidu, the police, “told her she was obstructing justice and two policemen held her by the arms and started dragging her. She told them to let her go as they were hurting her only to be shouted at that she was resisting arrest.”
Development plans have been in the works by Paga Hill Holdings, who has been been said to claim a commercial title to the land. According to activists, PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had earlier said the government would not remove residents there, stating, “I am now informed these portions of land were obtained fraudulently including the fringe of land next to the wharf.” Settlement tenants include the government-owned National Housing Corporation, the Police Legacy, National Parks, and Kikori settlers, original residents of land in southern PNG.
APWLD is concerned both about the infringements on the right to housing and livelihood of those living there, many of whom are women and children, as well as the attacks on human rights defenders. The incident follows similar attacks in Kathmandu, Nepal earlier this week with a demolition of a housing settlement. “These attacks and infringements on the right to housing and property are attacks on the poor,” said Kate Lappin, Regional Coordinator of APWLD. “Too often governments are discarding the rights of the poor, most of whom are women, in favour of the interests of corporations”.
A court order filed by residents has been successful in suspending the demolition; however nearly half of the houses and community buildings of the settlement have already been destroyed.
APWLD is calling on the government to guarantee that the residents will be provided with housing, services and the enjoyment of their economic and social rights, including compensation. We also expect to see an investigation into the incident including the assault on Dame Carol Kidu, the settlers and journalists. The matter will be brought to the attention of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing.