Friday, February 8, 2013

Papa New Guinea Citizen Killed for Being Accused of Sorcery

On February 6th, 2013, Papa New Guinea citizen Kepari Leniata was killed after being accused of sorcery. Kepari was accused of using sorcery to kill a six-year-old boy, whose relatives were later the ones to burn her in front of a crowd in Mount Hagen, Papa New Guinea. Sadly, this is not the first of such attacks in New Guinea, but is a part of an emerging pattern of citizens being killed after being accused of sorcery. This case very much reminded me of the cases of the Salem Witch Trials that took place in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. Upon reading about the trials, it was hard to imagine that people were at one time actually accused of sorcery, and after reading this article, it was even harder to believe that such accusations are still made.
The United Nations human rights office urged the Papa New Guinea Government to take action against such crimes. Cécile Pouilly, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human rights asked Papa New Guinea to “bring perpetrators of attacks and killings to justice through thorough, prompt and impartial investigations in accordance with international law,” (UN News Centre). According to reports, police tried to intervene with Kepari Leniata’s murder but were unsuccessful. This story reminded me to consider the different conditions and customs that others are forced to live with. Things like the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, something so far in the past that it seems unreal, is happening today, in 2013, in Papa New Guinea. While many people living in the United States and other parts of the world, including myself, would laugh at an issue such as being accused of sorcery, others are forced to pay with their lives for such an allegation. This article allows us to see how problems facing other parts of the world are so vastly different from the ones that we face in our day to day lives.

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