Featured image: arson in Port Moresby at the beginning of the protests. Source: Femli Studio/Via Reuters
On Wednesday, 10th of January, large riots erupted in the streets of the main cities of Papua New Guinea, the capital Port Moresby and the city of Lae. During these events, numerous fires have been seen in the city, including stores, warehouses, etc. Also buildings of large pharmaceutical brands in the country were torched. The protest began due to an unexpected salary cut against the country’s public workers, including the police, about 100 dollars of their last wage, which would be equivalent to half of their monthly salary. Supposedly the cut is due to new fiscal charges. Public sector workers stopped working and took the streets, including the police. This led to a generalized protest of the people, that due to the lack of repressive forces in the streets took them completely.
The country’s Prime Minister, James Marape, has described what happened with the salary cut as an “anomaly” that will be solved in the next month and other high rank State officials have denied the new salary cut due to tax reasons and have said that they will investigate the facts. Additionally Marape has hurried to criminalize those who have protested, affirming that it is not the first time that they revolt and he has called the them to return to their duties. The government is organizing a new arrival of reinforcements from other parts of the country to reach Port Moresby. The reliability of the government’s version is questioned since in 2018 similar events occurred, with salary cuts against officials, what also caused great protests.
At the moment there are 22 dead people, 15 in Port Moresby and 7 in Lae. Additionally, state of emergency for 14 days has been declared, which grants full powers to the military and the police and protects them to suffer legal consequences. Also there is a new deployment of another 1,000 police officers who will go soon to the capital of the country. At the start of the protest 180 extra were sent, but it was totally insufficient. The country’s police chief has been dismissed and six members of Parliament who were part of the government have quit, deepening the country’s political crisis.
The country’s prime minister has been quick to ask for help from his imperialist masters, requesting a helicopter and materials for the police. This furthers the dynamics of subjugation of the country to imperialism, which has been seen with the previous military pacts that have been signed for the arrival of many troops of Yankee imperialism and Australian imperialism. The country’s subjugation to imperialism has led it to the most absolute poverty, resulting in a perfect situation for the anger of the masses and the clashes in the streets. Around 40 percent of the 9 million inhabitants of the country live below the poverty level despite the rich mineral resources of the country, and specifically the living conditions of the people in Port Moresby are one of the most miserable within the cities from the whole world. Of course, all this mineral wealth is being looted by imperialist monopolies, bringing the country and the masses to misery and poverty. And now the masses have rebelled once again against the ruling classes and their imperialist masters, bureaucratic capitalism, semi-colonial and semi-feudal subjection.