In Papua New Guinea’s Sorcery Wars, A Peacemaker Takes On Her Toughest Case

Source: NPR

BY DURRIE BOUSCAREN

Things were going terribly wrong. Ato Boropi could feel it.

Dozens of villagers had squeezed next to each other on the floor of a one-room church perched on a mountain in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Several more huddled along the walls outside, as rain pummeled the corrugated metal roof.

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Boropi had helped to arrange the meeting. Leaders of two clans had promised her they would formally end the violence between them that had forced 160 people into hiding, fearing for their lives. In the church, she prayed they would keep their promise. A police order to formalize the peace agreement had not yet been issued.

Boropi’s unease deepened as she noticed clusters of young men in heated conversations on the periphery. Most alarmingly, members of a third clan not involved in the initial violence were there as allies of the group that perpetrated the attack. Some of them were her relatives by marriage.

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