Concerning False Accusations of Sanguma

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False Accusations of Sanguma Need to Stop
A dreadful practice has now come into Enga province: the practice of making false accusations of sanguma against people and then burning and killing them. In times past, our ancestors did not engage in this awful practice. But now, some Enga people are engaging in this terrible practice. For that reason, we, the representative of all the Christians churches in Enga, who have studied the Bible and are translating it into Enga, are sharing this message with you.

When a person dies or becomes sick, some people are claiming that a person has taken and eaten that person's heart. So in order to find out who it is that has taken the heart and eaten it, the people go ask a glass man. Then the glass man, who doesn't speak the truth but pretends to do magic, tricks people and makes false accusations against someone. The person accused by the glass man is then taken and interrogated to find out where he or she has put the heart. When the accused says that she does not know know what they are talking about, they threaten, torture, and burn her, saying, “Say that you ate the heart!” Then when she sees that they are going to torture and kill her, wishing to put an end to the torture, she lies and says that she has eaten the heart. After she says that, they continue torturing her and burning her, asking, “Are you the only one who ate the heart or did you give some of it to someone else to eat?” They do that until the accused is killed. There are also many other terrible things that they are doing as well, making false accusations and then torturing and killing people.

The people who are being accused have done nothing wrong. The glass men and the people who listen to the glass men and act according to their lies are those ones who are doing wrong; they are doing Satan's work. Some people say that, by accusing people of sanguma and then torturing and killing them, they are putting an end to Satan's work. But they are not putting an end to Satan's work. They are actually following Satan's ways and causing Satan's work to increase. The result is that Satan is glorified and his work is increased because the people are taking part in Satan's work.

Glass men do not know anything. They just trick the people and tell lies so that they can get money. You should not listen to what the glass men say. And let's stop calling them “glass men” ; instead let's call them “men who tell lies to get money.”

We are telling you the truth, so listen to what we say! People do not take the hearts of other people out of their bodies and eat them. Rather, without knowing what they are talking about, people are just falsely accusing others of practicing sanguma. And when other people hear those false accusations, they assume that they are true, and so they start to believe that the accused is indeed practicing sanguma. This is a terrible thing that is happening. If a person says that another person is practicing sanguma, don't believe him. And if you say that another person is practicing sanguma, you are giving that person a death sentence. So don't accuse anyone of practicing sanguma, because it is not true. It could even be that later people might also accuse you. If you accuse someone of practicing sanguma and that person is killed, you have broken the law in PNG, you have done wrong by killing another person, and also the blame will be upon you when God judges the world.

In Napotesa village, there is a three-year-old girl who has epilepsy. Her mother takes her to the hospital often, and the nurses have documented her epilepsy many times.

Once when this girl suffered an epileptic seizure, she became unresponsive and appeared to be dead. So the people there cut down a banana tree and then cut off a part of the base of the banana tree and placed it on the girl's chest to try to save her life. When that didn't work, they decided that they would pour some pig blood on her chest instead. The girl's mother said that there was a small pig at her father's house and that they should go to the house and kill it. After they killed and cooked the pig, one of the people said, “They say that there is a glass man around here.” So the people went to get the glass man. When the glass man came, he said to the people, “Somebody has practiced sanguma on this little girl.” When he said that, the people started asking each other, saying, “Who was around when the girl had a seizure?” They eventually named a particular woman who had been around, and the glass man accused that woman of taking the child's heart and eating it. Based on what the glass man said, they went and got that woman in the middle of the night, when she was sleeping in her house, and brought her back and interrogated her, asking her where she had put the heart and who she had been with. Then the woman told them that she had given another woman five avocados to sell for her, but that she had given her one to eat. Based on the fact that she said that she had given the other woman an avocado to eat, the people concluded that she had given her a part of the child's heart and that they had both eaten the child's heart. So they burned the first woman to death. Then they went and got the other woman, whom the first woman had named, and they bound her hands behind her back and began burning her as well. As she was nearing the point of death, she prayed to Jesus, and somehow her hands came forward in front of her, even though they had been tied behind her back. Then she chewed through the ropes and escaped. Now she is alive, although she has many burn marks all over her body. Because the glass man told lies, one of the two women is dead and the other has burn marks all over her body but is still alive. Because the glass man told lies with the result that one woman was killed and another badly burned, the police arrested the glass man and threw him in jail. And the men who burned the two women, having realized that they burned them based on lies, have now fled from the village and are living in hiding.

The girl who suffers from epilepsy simply had an epileptic seizure. She is alive and well. Therefore, when a person dies or becomes sick, do not go to see a glass man. Glass men just tell lies to get money. Nothing they say turns out to be true.

This sort of thing is not happening only in Napotesa. There are many places in Enga where people are falsely accusing women of sanguma and then burning them to death. And they have also accused some men of sanguma and killed them as well.

The Bible says that Satan is the father of lies. Talk of sanguma is spreading throughout Papua New Guinea. In the same way, as Satan tricks the people here in Enga, false accusations of people practicing sanguma are also spreading.

If someone were to accuse you of sanguma, you would know that they were telling a lie. So if someone accuses someone else of sanguma, don't believe it. Rather, recognize that it is also a lie, and then speak up in defense of that person.

If someone accuses someone else of sanguma and says that the person ate someone's heart, you ask the person who tells you that, “Did you with your own eyes see that person take the other person's heart? And did you see that person eat the other person's heart?” When you ask them that, they will tell you that they did not see it with their own eyes, but that somebody told them. So ask them who told them and then go to that person and ask the same questions. That person will also say that they did not see it with their own eyes but that they heard it from someone else. In fact you will soon find out that nobody has seen anything with their own eyes but that it is all just rumors, so don't believe what they are saying.

When a person is shot with a gun, you can see the bullet wound. When a person is hacked with a machete, you can see that wound as well. In fact you can look at the wound and see whether the person was shot with a gun or hacked with a machete. In the same way, if a person were to take another person's heart out of their body, you would clearly see the marks of such activity on the person's chest. So if someone accuses another person of sanguma saying that the person took someone's heart out of their body and ate it, go look at the person's body to see if there are any marks on their chest. When you see that there are no marks, you should realize that the accusations are false. Also, a person's heart cannot be removed from their body by magic or by a spirit. And those things also cannot put a person's heart back into their body.

When a person dies or becomes sick, some people make up stories and present them as truth. They say things like this: “As I was carrying a chicken to go cook it, somebody looked at me with an evil eye. And after my family and I ate the chicken and went to sleep, my child just died for no reason. Therefore, that person who looked at me with an evil eye has apparently taken my child's heart and eaten it, and so I am accusing that person of sanguma.” If you were to investigate such false accusations, you would see that they cannot be verified; don't believe people who say things like that.

When people threaten and torture a person, and that person confesses to taking a person's heart and eating it, don't believe that the confession is true. If someone were to accuse you of sanguma and then burn you, you know that you would also confess to eating someone's heart just so that you could put an end to the torture. Would your confession be true? Or would you make a false confession just to stop the torture? You would make a false confession just to stop the torture. Therefore, if a person confesses to taking someone's heart and eating it, you should realize that they have made a false confession because of the pain that they are experiencing and to avoid further torture.

The Causes of Sickness and Death
Sickness and death do not come about because of sanguma. Men and women who have gone to school to become doctors and nurses are very well educated in the causes of sickness and death. Often germs called viruses and bacteria enter into our bodies and make us sick or cause us to die. There are many sicknesses like AIDS and TB that come about in that way. Doctors can see germs like viruses and bacteria by looking through a microscope. When they look through a microscope they can discover what is causing a particular sickness.

There are other kinds of sicknesses that appear to kill people quickly. Heart attacks kill people at once. That particular illness comes about like this: The fat from eating meat from pigs, sheep, and cows little by little begins to block the flow of blood in people's veins. As that happens, the person does not appear to be sick, but is just living a normal life. But when the flow of blood is completely blocked, the person dies suddenly. In the same way, when the flow of blood is blocked in a person's brain, the person dies instantly. And there are other similar illnesses.

When doctors look at a patient and give them medicine, some bad germs die quickly, and the person becomes well again. But at other times the sickness is too strong and the person dies quickly. Only doctors can discern the cause. Regular people like us should not pretend that we understand the causes of sickness and death and conclude that it is the result of sanguma. Glass men are not doctors, so they do not understand the causes of sickness and death. They are also not able to bring dead people back to life. They simply tell lies in order to get money.

Most of us do not understand well the causes of sickness and death, so don't just say that sickness and death is the result of sanguma. When a person dies or becomes sick, don't do things like putting the base of a banana tree or pig blood on the person's chest to try to save him or her. And don't go get a glass man. Such things are not able to help a person get better. Such things cannot bring a person back to life. Rather, take sick people to the hospital so that the doctors can examine the person and identify the sickness. The doctor will tell you what the real sickness is. Then take only the medicine that the doctor tells you to take. When sick people do not go to the doctor right away, their sicknesses can grow worse to the point that the doctors and nurses are unable to help. But just because doctors cannot help in some cases, don't accuse someone of sanguma.

A Word for the Christians
Now we are speaking to the Christians. We Christians need to speak out and say that this practice of falsely accusing people of sanguma is wrong and violently torturing people is wrong. When we Christians see such false accusations taking place, we should not hide, but rather we need to say that they are false. If we say that sanguma is real and we do not oppose those who make false accusations, we are fake Christians. If some people accuse someone of sanguma, the church should help the person who is being accused. Jesus did not falsely accuse people or threaten them or torture them or kill them. When people were accusing others and threatening to kill them, he showed compassion on the accused and helped them. So if someone accuses another person of sanguma, you as a Christian should help that person and comes to his or her defense. If you do not do so, you are denying Jesus Christ. And if you deny Jesus Christ here on earth, he will deny you before Father God, so watch out.

Some Christians are confused and afraid regarding this talk of sanguma. And so they are just pretending that they know what it is all about. Some people think that because God truly exists and Satan truly exists then talk of sanguma must also be true. The people who think that are wrong. Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Some people take this Scripture and use it to say that people should accuse others of sanguma and then burn and kill them. The fact that they say that shows that they don't really understand that text. They people who say that are ruining not only God's reputation but also their own reputations. This is the true meaning of Ephesians 6:12; listen: The text is telling Christians to look out for Satan's sly and deceitful ways. It is telling us that we need to be vigilant because Satan will try to trick us so that we kill others, hurt others, become jealous of others, be greedy, be fearful, and think that lies are true. So if someone is accused of sanguma in the area where we live and is being tortured, we can't just stand there looking; we have to be insistent that the accusation of sanguma is false.

Remember the story of the good Samaritan. Jesus said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’”

The Pharisee and the Levite saw the man lying half-dead on the road and they just passed by on the other side. We Christians should not do as the Pharisee and Levite did. We should do as the Samaritan did who helped the man who was lying half-dead on the road. When people accuse a person of sanguma and/or when they are torturing someone, we need to be insistent that the accusation of sanguma is false. And if they don't listen, we need to get the police and save the person who is being accused or tortured.

Sanguma is not real, so don't be afraid. Satan is tricking people, and so they are afraid, thinking that sanguma is real. But sanguma is not real, so don't be afraid. These Bible verses will help you, so listen!

1 John 4:4 says, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” Therefore we should stand up strong, knowing that God lives in the hearts of us Christians. God has not give power to Satan and other evil spirits to go into a person and make them remove a person's heart and eat it.

1 John 4:18 says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” Therefore, when the love of God is upon you, there is nothing that you need to be afraid of.

In Matthew 16:25, Jesus says, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Therefore, when hear about people accusing someone of sanguma, if you are afraid that they might accuse you too and do not help that person and say that the accusation is false, you will forfeit your eternal life. But if you help that person by saying that it is a false accusation, you will find your eternal life.

In Matthew 10:28, Jesus says, “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Some Christian think that the one who can destroy both body and soul in hell is Satan. But they are wrong. Only God can destroy a person's body and soul. Therefore, do not be afraid of the people of this world or of Satan. Rather fear only God who is in heaven above.

The Christian Faith
This is what Christians believe: God created both men and women equally in his own image. But by the sin of our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, all of their offspring are subject to pain, death, and sin. God sent his son to save us. He became human and saved us by giving his life. By dying on the cross and rising from the grave, he overcame the power of the evil one and set us free. People who have been baptized and given their lives to Christ are not bound by Satan's power but live as new Christians. Christians who say that sanguma is true are not really Christians but have completely thrown out and disregarded their belief in Jesus Christ.

If you trust in Jesus, you should not fear Satan, sanguma, or anything like that. If you do not trust in Jesus, learn about the good news and trust in Jesus. This is the good news; listen:

Every one of us has disregarded God's word and sinned. By doing that we became imprisoned in Satan's kingdom. As we lay imprisoned, we also became prisoners to our sinful ways and we were unable to save ourselves. But Jesus took pity upon us and ransomed us with his life, taking our place. And although Jesus took our place and died, he did not remain imprisoned. Rather he overcame the power of sin, death, and Satan, and rose from the dead. After he rose from the dead, God took him up to heaven. Now Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God and ruling over God's kingdom. If a person trusts in Jesus and repents, saying that he will no longer commit the sins that he commits, Jesus will save him out of Satan's kingdom, wipe away his sins, and bring him into God's kingdom. Then if that person faithfully follows Jesus's words, on judgment day he will go to heaven and live forever. But if a person does not trust in Jesus but just continues living his life as a workman of Satan, on judgment day he will go to hell, where the fire never goes out. In that place people will be weeping and angrily gnashing their teeth. Jesus is calling out to you to come into God's kingdom, so will you come? Or will you just remain in Satan's kingdom?

The Law of Papua New Guinea
The practice of accusing people of sanguma and then torturing and burning them is giving Enga Province and the country of Papua New Guinea a bad reputation in other parts of the world. The government of Papua New Guinea, the government of Enga, and the chief police officers in Enga Province, are all strongly saying No to this practice of accusing someone of sanguma and then torturing and burning them.

People who commit sorcery accusation related violence, including torture, may be prosecuted for a number of Criminal Code offenses, including:
  • Willful murder (s299) and Murder (s300) 
  • Grievous bodily harm (s319) and Assault (s335) 
  • Unlawful assembly and riot (ss64 and 65) 
  • Threats to use violence (ss243 and 293) 
There is no defense that the perpetrator of violence believed the victim had practiced sorcery. In fact, this may lead to increased penalties. The average sentence for willful murder in these cases is 18 years imprisonment and many of these involve hard labour.

In addition, section 299A of the Criminal Code Act provides that any person who intentionally kills another person on account of an accusation of sorcery is guilty of willful murder, for which the penalty is death.

Under the Criminal Code, people who order, encourage and assist others to conduct sorcery accusation related violence may also be prosecuted and sent to prison.

Torture is illegal in PNG and confessions obtained through the use of force are not regarded as reliable evidence in any court of law. Only evidence of what people have directly seen with their own eyes and heard with their own ears is accepted in courts.

People such as glasman who trick people by pretending to identify individuals as being sorcerers may also be charged under the Criminal Code.

Many acts of sorcery-accusation-related violence also breach the human rights provisions in the Constitution, such as the right to life (section 35), right to freedom from inhuman treatment (section 36), protection of the law (section 37), and right to freedom (section 32). Cases claiming such breach of rights can be brought before the National Court under the Human Rights Rules and Constitutional provisions by anyone whose rights have been breached or by someone acting on their behalf.

People who accuse others with no proof may also breach section 11 of the Summary Offenses Act which says it is a crime to spread false or willfully misleading reports tending to cause trouble. This may be punished with a fine or a term of imprisonment.

The Village Courts have jurisdiction to deal with a limited range of offenses that concern people who pretend to practice sorcery or threaten others with sorcery or try to pay someone to perform acts of sorcery. The Village Courts also have a mediation function and are well positioned to assist in dealing with concerns people have about possible acts of sorcery committed against them in a non-violent manner. They can also issue preventative orders (section 51 Village Courts Act 1989) to stop community members acting violently against those accused of practicing sorcery.