1987: Paga Hill declared a national park. However, the government department charged with its maintenance was disbanded.
1988: A developer named Paga Hill Land Holding Company (PHLHC) submits an expression of interest in developing the site (2)
1997: With Ministerial support, PHLHC is granted a five-year Urban Development Leaseto develop the site. At the time the Lease was issued, the land was still zonedopen space. PHLHC was owned by Rex Paki, Felix Leyagon and Fidelity Management Pty Ltd. The latter was owned by Gudmundur Fridriksson (see below) and Byron Patching.
2000: Registration of a new company, the Paga Hill Development Company, entirely owned by Fidelity Management Pty Ltd.
2000: PHDC granted a 99-year lease for a prescribed rent. The CEO of both companies is Gudmundur Fridriksson.
2000: The rent for Paga Hill under the 2000 Urban Development Lease is K250,000per year with an improvement covenant of K10 million3 and a hand written amendment reducing the rent to K50,000 per year.
2009: PHDC negotiates a revised 99-year business lease. The annual rent is reduced officially to K50,000 and the improvement covenant to K5 million.
2012: On 16 February, an eviction order is made by the District Court of PapuaNew Guinea and on 4 April, an ultimatum is delivered to the community giving them three options for leaving the settlement. This includes moving to Six Mile,the site of a large decommissioned dump and a 17,000 person settlement.4
In pursuit of justice, community organisers enlisted the support of a wide range of international organisations. One of these is the International StateCrime Initiative, ‘a multi-disciplinary, cross-institutional and international initiative designed to gather, collate, analyse and disseminate research-based knowledge about criminal state practices, and resistance to these practices’.
2012: May 2 - The police come to Paga Hill to prepare for the eviction and tell the community that an eviction order has already been granted by the courts.The community organised to stay the order and this was denied by the court on 11 May with the community being given until 18 May to move out.The community led by resident Joe Moses took action for a stay on humanitarian grounds to halt the demolition. The appeal by the community was to be heard on May 12.
2012: May 12 - Despite the court hearing on the 12th, the police come with bulldozers and begin to tear down houses, beginning with Joe Moses’ and his neighbours’ houses. The then-Leader of the Opposition in the PNG Parliament, Dame Carol Kidu, who is a strong supporter of the community’s rights, objects and comes to Paga Hill in an attempt to prevent the threatened eviction. Dame Carol Kidu is taken away by the police but later released by the police without charge.
THE OPPOSITION CLIP 01: DEMOLITION
The stay is granted by the court and once Joe Moses arrives at Paga Hill community, the police stop the demolition.
In 2012, ISCI documented the demolition of the Paga Hill community housing in a report, The Demolition of Paga Hill:
“On 12 May 2012, one hundred police officers descended on the prominent Port Moresby landmark, Paga Hill. Armed with assault rifles, machetes and sticks, they had come to demolish one of the city’s oldest settlements. This forced eviction would make way for the Paga Hill Estate, an “exclusive” property development that promises to turn the 13.7 hectare site into “the icon of the new progressive Papua New Guinea”.
2013: Joe, the community, their lawyers and their alliance collect evidence and prepare their case.
2014: 29 January – The National Court rules in favour of the Paga Hill Development Company stating that Portion 1597 boundaries went from the summit of Paga Hill to the waterfront.5 The community appeals to the Supreme Court.
THE OPPOSITION CLIP 02: EVIDENCE COLLECTING
2014: 29 May – Two policemen come to Joe Moses’ reconstructed home in Paga Hill Settlement and attempt to arrest him without an official arrest warrant. Tear gas canisters were deployed within the community and shots were fired in the air. Joe refused to leave with the police officers when they failed to produce a warrant. He insisted on accompanying the officers to the police station to verify if there was an official arrest warrant against him. Upon arrival to the police station, both in downtown Port Moresby and in Boroko, Joe found that there was no arrest warrant against him. Outside the police station, officers attempted once again to arrest him, but were unsuccessful. Due to the ongoing police surveillance, harassment and threats, Joe went into hiding to avoid arbitrary arrest.
2014: 3 June - The police issue a press release entitled ‘NCD Police on hunt for Joe Moses for unlawful discharge of firearm’. The statement claims that Joe had escaped from custody, and is the subject of a manhunt. It is also alleged that Joe owned a firearm, without a license. However, he did not own a firearm, and no official arrest warrant was issued against him.
2014: 1 July - Because of new evidence including a new land survey, the Supreme Court rules in favour of the Paga Hill community stating that Portion 1597 was a separate area of land from the piece of land near the south of Paga Hill and towards Paga Point described as reclaimed land.
2014: 21 July - Another demolition takes place in the Paga Hill community by the police.
2014: 25 July - The Royal Papua New Guinean Constabulary’s Chief Superintendent Nicholas Miviri issues a letter to the General Manager of Curtain Bros PNG Ltd stating:
“This office has been advised that you are alleged to be unlawfully causing destruction to structures and evicting persons living at Paga Hill in the National Capital District. We have been served copies of the Supreme Court Orders dates 1st July 2014 and which has been verified at the Supreme Court Registry to be correct.”
“... You are instructed to cease all forms of demolition or eviction until Police are fully satisfied that your activities are lawful based on our investigations.”
2014: September - Mr Moses receives threatening messages, including drawings and death threats at his office at the University of Papua New Guinea.
2014: 1 October - The official handover date of the Six Mile Resettlement, now called ‘Tagoa Community’, where 200 families were given ‘Land User Agreements’ to reside on the land. This does not give the community security of tenure as the land remains customary land.
THE OPPOSITION CLIP 03: JOE ARRESTED AND IN HIDING
2014: 10 October - The final demolition and forced eviction of the Paga Hill community. The police burn the school, the church and the houses, bash women and children at gunpoint and flatten the community until they are forced to leave.
2017: 11 June - Human Rights investigators report that the majority of settlers evicted from Paga Hill have been “simply abandoned”, with some now sleeping rough. Of the estimated 400 people at Six Mile Resettlement, most remain in temporary accommodation – tents under a steel shed roof – because they can’t afford to enter into the “land use agreements” that were offered. In a news article in the Sydney Morning Herald, a Paga Hill Development Company spokesman said: “PHDC cannot be held responsible for the relocation site almost three years after it was formally handed over in October 2014 to UN acclaim.”
However, Roy Trivedy, the United Nations’ resident co-ordinator in PNG, said he attended one meeting where he was impressed with written plans for the resettlement but has not been involved in anything to do with Paga Hill since. He said he had asked the company to stop using his name to endorse something he hasn’t seen.