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Journalist Duran Angiki's Statement

Many groups, including Amnesty International, Reporters Sans Frontieres and Pacific Media Watch, have reported the alleged threats against independent Solomon Islands journalist Duran Angiki, 32, and a deadline of one week for an "apology". On 2 October 2000, Malaita Eagle Force spokesman Andrew Nori called a media conference in Honiara to deny threats to Duran's family. The following is the text of a "clarification" media statement issued by Angiki yesterday to the editors of the Solomon Star and the state-run Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation.:

Recently Andrew Nori issued a media statement, which stated that since the ANU/ SICHE Update Forum, held earlier this year at Panatina, he considered me as someone who is not neutral in my reporting about the conflict in Honiara. And he branded me for waging an "anti-Nori, anti-Malaita, anti-MEF" etc campaign against him. It is rather sad that ethnicity has been used to stir up emotions and hatred. What the article fails to clarify to the public is - why and how Nori arrived at his conclusion? As such, I am obliged to shed some light and clarify the real cause of what Nori claimed as my "anti" campaign.

Andrew Nori presented a paper about the "unconstitutional" existence of the Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM). And strongly questioned the former Bartholomew Ulufa'alu-led government for paying compensation demands and entertaining a group that existed outside of the country's legal framework. Besides Nori's consistent blemishing of the IFM leadership, he blamed leaders of Guadalcanal for the economic and social hardships and mess the country had gone through at that time.

He quoted Bible texts to support his argument, while stressing the need for "forgiveness" as one of the only ways of solving the ethnic conflict and healing the pain that afflicted by the IFM against innocent Malaitans. Nori also blamed Guadalcanal leaders and IFM for miscalculating the extent of the tension to the whole nation. He revealed feeding, on a weekly basis, hundreds of Guadalcanal displaced people.

Just towards the end of his presentation, Nori revealed the existence of the "Malaita Eagle Force" (MEF) - a group at that time only heard of on the radio. For the first time in public, Nori announced its formation and revealed that he was the spokesman. From then on he issued what I would say is the threat that weeks later he fulfilled (coup on June 5). He warned Guadalcanal leaders and people that MEF would use all its resources "locally and overseas" to counter the Isatabu Freedom Movement propaganda. Nori told the forum that the MEF would deal appropriately with people who engaged in the propagation of the IFM.

Following his presentation (knowingly well that the forum is an academic meet that allows for comments and questions) I waited for a while for the most senior academics, politicians and national leaders to comment but none dare to speak. I stood up and made a brief comment. I stated that obviously the paper is very pro-Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) and I am wondering how he (Nori) reconciles the concept of "forgiveness" and his threat that MEF will fight within all its "resources" to bring justice to the situation of displaced Malaitans. I later asked Nori whether or not the establishment of MEF is within the legal framework of our country's legal system as he earlier alluded to in the case of IFM. Nori avoided answering my questions in a more tactful way.

My comments and questions were raised within the rationale of the academic world and its principles. Secondly I made the statement and asked the questions on the grounds that if the people in the forum fail to raise the questions then who else besides a journalist would be in a position to ask clarification questions? In my honest view, working under an extremely abnormal time in the Solomons history, I'm not in anyway out to tarnish or wage a campaign against any individual or the MEF, Malaitans in general or my good friend Andrew Nori. I wish to assure the good people of this country I've no hidden agenda against anyone. I have to accept that some section of our community will dislike my reporting but that is the nature of our profession. We are not going please every single person.

Duran Angiki

Gizo, Western Solomons.

+++niuswire


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