Thought for the day….”The moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice.” Martin Luther King
“Keep your face to the sunshine and you will not see the shadows”
What would you do if you were on holiday and you were violently attacked and robbed? An interesting question, and worth thinking about. It just happened to me, and it is interesting to think about what happened, and what followed. A few days ago I was in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. As there was no flying that day, I took the chance to go for a walk in the villages. PNG is dangerous, and I had read about the walks NOT to do, and opted to remain on a busy path between the villages. I walked passed villagers every few hundred metres, so for a lot of the time I was always near other people. A lovely summer day, cool up in the highlands so it was perfect for walking. It was also great for me to see from ground level some of the areas in the hills that I had been flying over. The villagers were friendly, and many of them stopped to talk, rural Papua New Guinea. After a few hours I headed back to the main road, wanting to be back in the main town before it got too hot. Even on the way back, I was passing many villagers heading to and from their homes in the hills. Children playing in the yards, village people selling produce from small huts, and men and women walking back to their houses to rest. All very quiet and peaceful. As usual, I took lots of photos, especially early on when the light was perfect.
Almost back to the main road, and in good time too. I crossed the final wooden bridge before the last stretch to the main road. Walked up the hill the other side then started the descent towards the main road. Suddenly behind me I heard a man shout. I turned and then was attacked by a raskol (the local name for a bandit or criminal) who was using a bush knife (the blade was about 30-40cm long, with a long handle). What was particularly surprising was that the bandit was so violent. Normally when you are attacked then the advice is not to resist, but this time I had no chance to offer money, watch etc. The bandit was intent on slicing me with the bushknife. Using the daybag as a shield on my side, I deflected the slashes with my right arm. Strangely enough, at the time I did not feel the cuts, and it was only afterwards that I saw all the blood. It was a natural reaction for me to put my right arm up as defense. Not that an arm is much resistance against a bush knife used by a violent bandit. The bandit hacked the camera off me, then ran off. For a moment, I thought about chasing him, but then thought that he was too violent and that he had already been trying to cut me up. Despite being a fast and well-trained runner, I thought that it was better to let the camera disappear.
The bandit had been lucky. About 100m before the attack there were people sitting and about the same distance in front of me there were 2 people as well. So that is perhaps why he ran off when he got the camera. He could have got more but the camera seemed to have satisfied him.
The attack was only about 700m from the police post on the main road. After a visit to the local medical centre to get the right arm seen to, I visited the police station to report all the details. One thing that I have learned about PNG is that many people are fearful of reprisals from the raskols, and fear attacks on their families. So this means that even those people who saw the attacker will not describe him or reveal his name. He will probably continue to do the same thing against others. Violence is common in PNG, often involving neighbouring villages and groups. Law and order has broken down, and in many areas, it is the locals who sort things out, sometimes violently.
A couple of photos from before the camera was stolen…
And another photo, again from PNG,
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