After the Era of Westernization: Papua New Guinea Holds Witch Hunts

There is a world of information out there. A person who regularly checks the news and reads articles can always find some kind new information and be fascinated by either an atrocity or humble act of human kind.

I recently came across an article on twitter – the conveyor of information – about witch hunts in Papua New Guinea and how its participants post the acts on social media as a form of boasting. This particular article is more like a series consisting of five chapters where a writer, Kent Russel, tell the story of his visit in order to research the then viral witch hunts.

For 16 years of my life, i had been completely oblivious to the possibility of there being a country in this day and age so backwards and barbarian; I though witch hunts and witch trials had been left in Salem more than 300 years ago.

In communities like Warakum, PNG, women are hunted down on the belief that their use of sorcery caused death or sickness for another member of the community, including their own children. Women are stripped of their clothes, tied, and blindfolded as men strap them to a log over a pile of refuse. With a combination of fuel and fire, the members of the community watch the woman burn. When all that is left is a burnt figure only slightly resembling a human being, men run their truck tires over the supposed “witch” and the rest (including local officers) stare intently, without a flinch.

According to Russel’s recount, fishing decapitated women out of a local river isn’t cause of awe – it’s as usual as fishing for fish.

The world became aware of this cultural ritual about two years ago when a particular “witch’s” story became viral.


The witch was a 20-year-old mother of two who had been blamed for the death of a 6-year-old neighbor boy in her Papua New Guinean shantytown in 2013. Based on his symptoms, the cause of the boy’s death was most likely rheumatic fever. But in PNG, any death that cannot be chalked up to simple old age is believed to have a malevolent agent behind it.

A group of 50 or so of the dead boy’s relatives apprehended the young mother, stripped her, tortured her and burned her alive in the settlement’s landfill, just outside the city of Mount Hagen. A number of bystanders were uniformed police officers who helped turn back a fire engine when it whined to the scene.

This particular witch killing splashed across the homepages of international tabloids because members of the crowd had snapped photos and shared them proudly on social media. Journalists descended, ascertaining a few grisly details as well as the woman’s identity (which cannot be said for many victims of sorcery-related violence in PNG): Her name was Kepari Leniata.


I’ve only just become aware of this and after further research, found that these occurrences aren’t only happening in PNG but also in some parts of the Middle East.

The entirety of Kent Russel’s story is on the following link. Read it if the topic interested/surprised you as much as it did me.

http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/they-burn-witches-here/

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Taking Photos of Strangers in Public (or Street Photography)

IMG_4559All of these photos were taken at the Hollywood Beach boardwalk on a Saturday night. Though there is nightlife, it revolves mainly around whatever act is performing on the main stage that night.

The scene has changed though: there is a new resort right where there used to be a playground and it has utterly changed the vibe. IMG_4492There are more drunken adults laying poolside and less kids monkeying around on the bars.

But old habits die hard. The couple pictured dancing has been going to Hollywood beach ever since i can remember. Every Saturday my family IMG_4639and I would spend at the beach swimming in the ocean was every Saturday that couple would spend dancing in front of the stage.

Throughout the rest of the boardwalk, that is where the young hang out. The most popular spots are the ice cream parlors – there are possibly hundreds IMG_4535of them – the pizza places and the wall diving the boardwalk and the sand (either licking ice cream or biting pizza.)

There is also the unavoidable four wheeled bicycle which is the definition of forced family time for every child aged 9 – 17. Though there IMG_4647is a “vehicles” lane on the boardwalk, there is no such thing as being too careful. Little three wheeled tricycle/chair thingamajigs are always zipping by with disregard for pedestrians.

The Hollywood beach boardwalk is a place where people go to dance, eat, IMG_4642drink, bike, roller-skate, skateboard, (the new and still mysterious) hoverboard, and run. It’s ideal for a first date and a workout session – there’s no other place like it.

MLEC Principal James Parker Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

The Harbinger

By Daniela Morales

James Parker along with Jose Bueno and other Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Rosy Calvo. James Parker along with Jose Bueno and other Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Rosy Calvo.

The annual State of the Town address was held yesterday at Miami Lakes’ Town Hall. Aside from discussing the major accomplishments and occurrences of the town, Mayor Michael A. Pizzi Jr. also honored its outstanding citizens.

MLEC’s very own top Jaguar, James V. Parker – who will be retiring in 2016 – was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award.

For Mr. Parker, a night that started out with enthusiasm and anticipation quickly became a reality.

“I rarely get nervous, I was more excited because I did know I was accepting an award,” said Mr. Parker about his special night.     

Mayor Pizzi then began introducing Mr. Parker, Miami Lakes Educational Center’s principal of 12 years, and his works.

“Seven years an A school…with not only phenomenal educational programs but also vocational programs,” said Mayor…

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Cecil the Lion’s Killer Gets Away Scot-Free

Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer has recently become known for killing renowned Cecil the Lion. Cecil was beloved and his death was felt deeply in the international community. Cecil, who died at 13 years old, was beloved because over time he had become to accustomed to humans that he would allow vehicles to come up to 30 feet short of him, which made photographing and research an easier task.

Visitors to Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park acknowledge that this lion stood out from the rest.

“Cecil was the ultimate lion,” said Brent Stapelkamp, a field researcher with Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) to National Geographic. He knew Cecil perhaps better than anyone else. “He was everything that a lion represents to us as humans,” Stapelkamp said. “He was large, powerful, but regal at the same time.”

And now Palmer, who claims to not have noticed the collar under his mane, will not be charged. The Zimbabwe conservation task force reported Cecil was lured out of the park and shot with a compound bow. 40 hours later the hunters shot, skinned, and beheaded him

The hunters also tried to destroy the GPS collar that Cecil was wearing as part of a research project backed by Oxford University.

Two Zimbabweans have been charged in the case but Palmer has yet to be contacted by anyone in the investigation.

Sergio Bustos Visits The Harbinger Staff Writers

The Harbinger

By Juanita Cardona

“To become a good journalist you need to write and read, read and write,” said Sergio Bustos.

Sergio Bustos, a political journalist for The Associated Press, is the son of Chilean immigrant parents and an immigrant himself. He attended The Virginia Commonwealth University where he received his Bachelor of Science, and Mass Communication/Media Studies, as well as attending The University of Southern California.

Being born a Hispanic has provided him with advantages in the political world but has made him been perceived as a foreigner while growing up. This, however, never held him back since he considered himself a journalist first.

Bustos started off his career as a writer for The Daily News Leader in Staunton, Virginia, where he eventually moved on to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Bustos then became an editor for The Miami Herald, where he worked for 10 years. Three months ago, he was hired…

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