WWII relics in trouble - Solomon Star News

WWII relics in trouble

25 February 2020

WAR RELICS in the far Western Province is in danger of being sold off if authorities are not attentive about the matter and economic alternatives are not made possible for the people of Shortland Islands.

Bernard Otuana a reigning chiefly representative residing in Gizo and a member of the Fauru, Mono and Alu (FAMOA) Council of Chiefs, spoke about recent attempts by locals to sell a number of war relics located in the Shortlands but were fortunately unsuccessful.

He said as far as the selling of relics goes, the recent attempt and failure was just a lucky break and that in the past successful sales have happened.

He said the short term benefit gained from the sales of items remaining from the World War II Japanese occupation in the Shortland Islands is continuing and though there is an understanding about the long term benefits, the lack of its development return led many to the old habit of relic selling.

“A recent press release made by the Provincial Secretary of Western Province spoke of the Munda airport developing into a domestic connection service terminal is one we truly are excited to see happen.

 “We urge both national and provincial government to look into making it happen so the tourism industry in far-reaching islands can also benefit from such an integral step forward.

“It is our greatest hope to have some assistance from Japan in dealing with the relics left behind by its bloody war history and help us create a positive outcome for the better,” he said. 

Having approached the Japanese Embassy last year, Otuana looks forward to some tangible action in partnership with the Japanese Government and the people of FAMOA.

Otuana explained that war relics are state-owned properties according to his understanding of Solomon Islands law.

The issue reported to have occurred in the islands of Shortland and Balalae is a part of the FAMOA island group and owned by a large number of descendants who rightfully can claim heritage over the land and its resources.

“With this in mind it is clear that no one person or minority group can or should be allowed to make such decisions to sell war relics to any other person or party, without the absolute consultation of other clan and tribal representatives,” explained the well known Gizo resident.

It has been reported that two individuals said to be chiefs had made the failed sales attempt, but Otuana stressed that dealings with chiefs are most definitely more than a couple of persons and venturing companies should evade such people to avoid disappointment.