Asians attacked as PNG violence flares

Foreign mining interests and perceived corruption have been blamed for a flaring of violence in Papua New Guinea, with Asians forced from their stores and homes.

Papua New Guinea villagers have once again looted and attacked Asian-owned stores, forcing their owners to flee town during a two-day rampage.

The violence occurred as PNG's Prime Minister Michael Somare reiterated strong support to major investment partners Malaysia and China.

PNG's Post Courier newspaper reported on Monday hundreds of youths went on a violent looting spree in Kainantu, Eastern Highland Province (EHP), attacking Asian-run shops on Friday and Saturday.

Extra police were deployed to the area while police on Friday had to provide an escort to fleeing shop owners who sought refuge in nearby EHP centre Goroka.

PNG's anti-Asian sentiment is tied to the widespread perception that systemic corruption and inequality is being fuelled by unscrupulous foreign business owners.

Police blamed "opportunists" for the recent attack but one unnamed source told Post Courier: "We are not happy with the way the government is running the country."

Last year anti-Asian violence and looting spread across the country after a series of public demonstrations called for a clampdown on illegal immigrants and government corruption.

On Friday PNG customs boss Gary Juffa blamed illegal foreigners for bringing contraband into the country and participating in criminal activities.

Some PNG citizens resent the influx of Asian immigrants now owning traditionally PNG-run businesses

There is anger too at PNG's elite allowing increasing Asian influence in the resource-rich country.

The controversial Chinese-run Ramu nickel mine in PNG's northeast has been a constant source of tension.

Meanwhile Sir Michael reaffirmed PNG's strong ties with Malaysia at a gala function celebrating its 53rd Independence Day in Port Moresby on Friday.

Then on Saturday Sir Michael received a red carpet welcome in China's capital Beijing, where he is to discuss increasing investment and trade relations, including a major liquefied natural
gas deal.

2 min read
Published 13 September 2010 at 2:56pm
Source: AAP