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Old 05-07-2005, 09:29 AM
little little is offline
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gun summit notes

A big stir caused yesterday afternoon at the gun summit by a small arms survey report from Philip Alpers* on the Southern Highlands (a landlocked province, so tracking gun movement in and out of there opens up gun movements nationally). There is no evidence that guns are smuggled into the country – contrary to what politicians, police and the defence force claim. The most common guns you find are SLRs (self-loading rifles; Australian made) and M16s (American) – both from the PNG defence force stocks (serial numbers also match them there).

More: most of the high-powered guns are deployed by people running in elections, sitting MPs, and their supporters: to impress and intimidate. An August 2004 audit of PNGDF small arms that revealed 16% were unaccounted for; after this, apparently, the Office of the Minister of Defence ordered that this audit be revised.

(will this be publicised? The chief editor of one of the daily newspapers is on the gun control board; he’s published several front pages on the border issue. He’s here in the front row.)

(there’s a lot more: http://www.smallarmssurvey.org/publications/special.htm)
After Alpers there’s a panel of government security high fliers. And they are all spinning from what has just been heard. The Defence Force Commander (Peter Ilau) is furious, so much so that he becomes incoherent. “Don’t let history influence the way you lead” he rails, whatever this means. On the firearms audit, he threatens: “That was a leak and I am going to find out who is responsible and hold them accountable. That is not public information!”. You worry about the fall out; he is raving mad. “Cause and effect does not equal time and space!” he shouts. It’s so good he shouts it again.

The other responses aren’t so crazy, but they still insist on pushing the border protection line. It’s worrying: the whole point of this summit is surely about internal security, but none of the govt security agencies look willing to talk about it – let alone do something about it. Aside from border control, the other big theme is whinging about Waigani and failures in leadership. (Somare isn’t named, but he isn’t popular.) A round of applause is almost guaranteed if you say “Waigani runs the country by remote control!”. It’s easy to forget that so many of the people in the room are the leaders.
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