On Friday 16 May I had the privilege of attending the final program of a training workshop, facilitated by the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace. The workshop’s aim was to create a culture of just peace in East, Central and West Honiara Constituencies.
The workshop had brought together a large group of youths and adults from all across Honiara.
I was impressed by the obvious commitment of the speakers, many of whom were young people, who were determined to take up the torch and become peacemakers within their communities.
Unfortunately, the same evening, another group took to the streets in an unnecessary and violent display, which resulted in looting of property and arson, and rocking of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and RAMSI police and vehicles.
Whatever the grievance may be, under no circumstances is it acceptable for individuals to take the law into their own hands. This is the type of behavior, which has destabilized Solomon Islands in the past and is an obstacle to its progress to a better and peaceful future. No one wishes to see a return of 2006 or the dark days of the Tensions. Solomon Islands has come too far for that.
The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and RAMSI police have been working around the clock in recent days, responding to reports of disturbances, maintaining order and making arrests. They are prepared and ready to take strong action against anyone found to be involved in further disturbances.
I commend the work of the RSIPF and the professionalism they have shown during these very difficult times. I also thank the members of the public who have come forward with information that has led to the arrests in connection with the disturbances.
I appeal to all Solomon Islanders in Honiara not to listen to those who may be advocating violence or further unrest. And I ask leaders, communities, churches and families to use all their available influence to urge restraint and calm.
As RAMSI Special Coordinator, I want to assure everyone that RAMSI is here supporting the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force and the Solomon Islands Government. We are doing everything possible to help the RSIPF maintain a strong security posture and to ensure that those involved in recent rioting will be brought to justice.
But the maintenance of peace and security in Solomon Islands cannot be achieved by the police alone: it is everyone’s responsibility.
This nation is at a cross roads now and Solomon Islanders need to make a choice of whether to go backwards or to move forward. To our Solomon Islands friends, I ask you all to stand up against those few who advocate for violence and criminality.
By Ms Justine Braithwaite