Church tries to help PNG sorcery accused before bush verdict

Church groups are among organisations saying they will mount a rescue after four people were accused of sorcery in a Papua New Guinea village.

The four were accused of witchcraft and allegedly tortured in the village of Kaiwe, following recent deaths in the community.

Human rights defenders, church groups and police were preparing to stage a rescue should a spiritualist, known as a “glass man”, be brought in and “confirm” the accusations.

The Guardian Australia reported that three of the four have been rescued by relatives but one woman was still being held hostage by the village while it tries to locate a “glass man”.

Sister Maggie Turwai, of the Mount Hagen based Catholic family life group, had been working on the case for days with human rights groups and local police.

Sr Turwai said her organisation had been trying to negotiate entry into the village, but said the situation was tense and people would not allow them to come in.

“The Church is working together to closely monitor the situation and if the glass man comes in and confirms sorcery has taken place, before anything happens we will go in and rescue them. The police are already alerted.”

Supernatural beliefs remain strong in the very traditional highland regions of PNG, and sorcery accusations against local men and women often follow unexpected deaths in communities.

Sr Turwai said customary belief is strong in the community.

“Slowly, slowly the Church is trying to teach them not to believe in sorcery but because it’s a cultural thing the mindset of people is hard to change.”

A PNG law which provided a defence to violence if it was done to “stop witchcraft” was only repealed in 2013.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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