An excellent article by Dana MacLean on Papua New Guinea’s witch-hunts was published on October 21, 2014 in the Asia-Pacific current-affairs magazine, The Diplomat. It is a great read for anyone concerned with modern witch hunts and the plight of the accused in foreign countries.
In the past decade in Papua New Guinea, hundreds of men, women and children have been accused of witchcraft or sorcery, and publicly tortured and murdered by vigilante mobs. Endemic fears of black magic haunt Pacific Island communities, fueling the violence.
“It is a public mob-mentality packed action. It is not just killing, but torturing, to try to get a confession out of them,” says Kate Scheutze, Amnesty International’s Pacific researcher.
In April 2014, six people – including two children – were murdered in Sasiko village in the Madang province on the northern coast of Papua New Guinea by marauding men from a neighboring village. Nearly one year earlier, a 20-year-old mother in Mount Hagen, in the Western Highlands, was burned to death after being accused of using sorcery against a 6-year-old boy who had died. These are just two examples of a widespread practice that targets men, women and children as a means to explain hardship and accidents, according to anthropologists. Papua New Guinea’s Constitutional and Law Reform Commission estimates that there are 150 sorcery-related deaths annually.