POLICE Chief Matthew Varley is calling on citizens not to resort to political motivated violence following the decision of government to switch diplomatic ties from Taiwan to China.
Mr Varley made the appeal after noticing some online commentary and threats on various Facebook pages against businesses, Chinese shops, politicians and even against communities.
“I think I have seen some threats on Facebook where people have threatened to set fire to or burn down Chinese shops or China town,” Mr Varley told reporters at his weekly conference on Thursday.
Mr Varley added that they have seen those sorts of remarks and threats before and having seen the destructive nature that it has prompted him to make the appeal to people to help them get rid of that.
He said they do not want to see people resorting to political motivated violence or vented frustration or anger that takes away the good community spirit we worked so hard to build.
“Attacks of violence against community members whether they are Chinese or other races is not who the community in Solomon Islands is,” Mr Varley said.
“We are the happy Isle and the peaceful community that we build and we certainly don’t want to see attacks or violence carried out,” he added.
He further added that some key board warriors on line are making these sorts of threats thinking that they are anonymous or thinking that it’s easy to make these sorts of allegations on line.
“The point is that it can quite easily incite unlawful behaviour or could quite easily incite people to carry out threats of violence in the communities.
“And that is not what we want to see.
“I want make a clear point and that is there has been a lot of debate around the freedom of speech and democracy and fundamental rights that people have to express their views.
“And let me be very clear about this, the RSIPF absolutely supports the principles of democracy, we are a police force that upholds the law and we do not take sides in politics.”
The police chief said pointed out that expressions of views and political opinion are absolutely the foundations of strong democracy and that should be protected and upheld.
“But expressions or threats of violence or intimidation or even arson and criminal damage are not part of the democracy that we have built here in the Solomon Islands.
“So there is la big difference in terms of expressing political opinion, expressing political debates and debating the merits of politics in this country.
“We don’t want to see expression of violence or intimidation or threat of harm in other in our community being made on line in the press or in person in our community,” Mr Varley said.
“That is the fastest way for our community to become fragmented and to turn into something that we are not,” he also said.
He therefore appealed to community leaders, chiefs, church leaders, parents and all good people of Solomon Islands to remember the lessons of the past.
“Let us make sure our debate on these political issues is done constructively, peacefully and with good spirit and intentions.”
“…. and let us discourage these threats of violence or intimidation that are starting to appear in some segments of the online community or in the public,” the police chief said.
Mr Varley said so far at this point no one has been make any police report of harassment or threat made directly to them in the community.
By ASSUMPTA BUCHANAN