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‘Emotional’ story telling starts today

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SIXTEEN people who were victims of the past ethnic crisis will reveal their stories today and tomorrow as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) commences the truth telling process.

Nine people will be called today to kick off the two-day public hearing.

The last seven will be called tomorrow.

The hearing is anticipated to be emotional as the victims will be called to reveal in detail the pain they have been through during the past crisis.

Most of the victims are from Guadalcanal and Malaita but some of them are from other provinces including Western and Choiseul.

The TRC is convinced that some of the major damages caused to these people had been, moral prejudice, dispossession of the dignity of many victims, the theft of dignity caused- first by the perpetrators of human rights violation, unacceptance abuses that seriously hurt dignity of human beings and such abuses compounded by the long indifference of the rest of the society to the suffering of the victims.

The TRC said the public hearings is one of the most significant activities of the work plan they have set to accomplish the mission they were assigned.

They said they public hearing will help victims because they give voice to those for years had to endure in silence, numerous abuses and crimes impossible to describe.

“TRC wishes to end this silence and make the whole country to give recognition to their sufferings and feel the tragedy which has long been denied.”

The TRC has developed a number of policies and rules which will guide the victims when they reveal their stories.

One such policy is that a victim will not name people but can name groups.

The two-day hearing will start at 10am today at the FFA conference centre.

A march from Lawson Tama up to the FFA headquarters will kick of the programs.

Guest of honours will be the Governor General who will give the keynote address, the Prime Minister, Chief Justice and Speaker of Parliament.

The hearings will not be staged where people will discuss what they hear or for people to compare versions.

The TRC will not deliver any judgments or reach a verdict on the cases presented to the public hearings.

TRC said the hearings are moments to listen with respect and compassion.

“Above all, it will help to restore the dignity of the victims, to retrieve the memory of those who were killed, and to hear the voice of those who were humiliated and abused in countless ways.”

The TRC is an independent body, comprising three national and two international commissioners.  

They are:  Sam Ata of Solomon Islands (Chair); Sofia Macher of Peru (Deputy Chair);  George Kejoa of Solomon Islands; Carolyn Laore of Solomon Islands; and Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi of Fiji.

The work of the TRC commenced on 15 January 2010, following its launch last year by former Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Financial and technical support for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has been provided by a number of contributors, including the Governments of Solomon Islands, Australia and New Zealand; the European Commission; the International Centre for Transitional Justice; the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and the United Nations Development Programme.