By Rachael Shisei – EM TV News, Madang
The controversial Pacific Marine Industrial Zone, PMIZ in short, is set to be officially launched by the Prime Minister on the 23rd of this month, which is next Monday.
Back in Madang on the ground, allegations against the PMIZ police are piling up, regarding claims of harsh treatments towards the locals, with the latest being just last week on a group of mothers at the Vidar market place.
The Vidar women said they hadn’t received any notice that they shouldn’t be marketing at the market, a place where they’ve been all their lives and said, they still didn’t understand after the PMIZ police reactions, as they were too harsh.
“They told us to pack up and leave and we were packing but one of them pulled out a post from the market shelter and started hitting our eskis, starting from the women before me. I had already packed but he came and hit mine as well and broke my drinks to sell,” said Theckla Tamol, one of the women.
Merolyn Kasa is another one of those women who said, they were moved around and was told by the RD Tuna Cannery that they can use that space to buy and sell, but were forced to leave by the PMIZ police.
“They make it seem like, I don’t belong here,” she said.
This didn’t seem like the first time, as the youths joined and gave their accounts of what happened to them.
“The PMIZ Police used a softball bat to hit me and I didn’t walk for three days, I didn’t do anything wrong I was just walking past to get home,” said Jerome Tuaken, one of the youths.
Adolf Futan, another youth, a RD Fishing worker said he was giving his back and walking to get to his canoe, but one of the PMIZ officers fired a shot towards him, almost getting his right leg.
Another youth, John Kasa reported that two of his sisters were ordered to sit down and when they did, guns were pointed at their heads.
“I go scared, jumped into the sea and started swimming with the other guys but one of my brothers was unfortunate. They caught him, hit him to the ground, held him down with their shoes and fired shots right beside his ear. He is now deaf,” said Kasa.
The PMIZ project’s official launching is set to eventuate on the 23rd which is next Monday, but with the trend of what’s happening as claimed by the locals, it is becoming a great concern for the village leaders and elders who feel, a clear explanation must be made sooner than later.
“I am not afraid. I am the government just as you are. Are you really here for a Marine Park or are you here to assault the people of this village,” said Joe Tuaken, a village leader.
Another village elder, Getrude Gileng, pleaded that the authorities should organise themselves and work together with the villagers, if they are really about a project for development.
“If otherwise you kill one of our children, are we suppose to just accept and continue living?” she questioned.
The people’s concerns now are gravely on what the project may mean to them given the treatments they have been getting, when the project hasn’t even started yet.
They are being forbidden to pass certain boundaries, both on the land and on the sea.