The Barola section of the Highlands Highway will remain closed until Friday when the community presents a petition containing their demands to the Eastern Highlands leaders.
A series of blockades were set up after a young Kainantu teacher was tortured and killed on a Lae bound PMV two days before Independence.
Yesterday, Eastern Highlands MPs including Governor, Julie Soso, met with the community expressing a call for the speedy implementation of the death penalty.
Yesterday, Police Minister Robert Atiyafa, Eastern Highlands Governor, Julie Soso, Kainantu MP, Johnson Tuke, led a high powered delegation to meet with the Barola people.
As they work to diffuse tensions that began on Saturday. Details of the killing that sparked this unrest are slowly coming to the fore.
Since Saturday, it has become clear Albert Gibson, father of a six month old baby, was murdered because of his ethnicity and because the bus he was traveling on was stoned near his town. His relatives are still coming to terms with his brutal death.
“How can someone endure that kind of torture,” said Vincent Aikebus who spoke at the gathering yesterday. “He wasn’t Jesus Christ. Why did they have to kill him for something another had done?”
Albert Gibson was the Coordinator of Kainantu’s newly opened distance learning center. His death has sparked widespread anger prompting both members of the public and Eastern Highlands governor Julie Soso to call for the quick implementation of the death penalty.
“We have felt enough pain. If we have to implement the death penalty, now is the time.”
Police Minister, Robert Atiyafa and the Kainantu MP, Johnson Tuke, say they too will back that call in Parliament.
“It was brutal and uncalled for,” said Atiafa.
Barola used to be a criminal hotspot. But about 12 years ago, things began to change as the criminals laid down their arms. Albert Gibson, many said, was a product of that period of change.
The murder has plunged Barola back to the bad old days. On Sunday night, a Hagen bound container vehicle was burned. As the EMTV Lae Bureau crew were filming, another vehicle was stopped. Within minutes, the situation deteriorated as tribesmen sought an avenue to vent their anger.
The rear windows hacked with knives and axes. The driver was ironically a teacher himself. Former DWU lecturer, Chris Papiali, was forced out of the vehicle, later took refuge in a police vehicle.
He escaped unhurt. His vehicle was destroyed and his property taken.
The people here say they do not want compensation for the death of the Albert Gibson. They want the murderers to be brought to justice and executed.
Eastern Highlands MPs will be meeting with the Western Highlands Governor and other Western Highlands MPs to discuss a way forward and hopefully, have the highway reopened by Friday