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RSIPF apologise to communities on Guadalcanal’s Weathercoast

The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force has apologized to the people in the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal for the RSIPF Joint Operation carried out in their communities in 2002 and called for forgiveness and cooperation from the chiefs and people in the area.

The apology was delivered by the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Walter Kola during a traditional solovisu or calling back ceremony held at Ngalito village on 4 February. It was attended by several hundred people from the villages from Pite to Savuna.

The solovisu at Ngalito village, the second one this week, with the first one held at Duidui village on 3 February, was also attended by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of National Unity, Reconciliation and Peace, Lennis Rukale, the Deputy Special Coordinator of RAMSI, Richard Griffith and RAMSI Participating Police Force representative, Superintendent, Ged Byers.

“The operation by the Police at the time was not intended to affect the people in the area. The operation was intended to arrest the fugitive Harold Keke. The Police is sorry for what had happened. We want to ask for your forgiveness. Let us forget what had happened and work together,” said Mr Kola.

“I want to thank the chiefs in this area for their cooperation that led to the recent arrest of two prison escapees. There are some prison escapees still at large. I want to salute the chiefs and elders of communities in the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal for working with the Police. Police can only work better with the community.

Deputy Police Commissioner, Mr Kola revealed during the ceremony that the RSIPF is planning to build a police post at the nearby Komate Village.

Speaking at the same ceremony, Permanent Secretary Rukale told the gathering that the solovisu was only the beginning of the reconciliation process.

“After the solovisu the Government will organize trauma counseling for the communities on the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal. Already we have trained 200 people in trauma counseling support work and we want people to respect and cooperate with the trauma counselors when they come down to your villages,” said Mr Rukale.

Mr Rukale said the Solomon Islands Government has not forgotten its people in the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal “that is why we want to continue with the process of reconciliation and peace in the area.”

“Enough is enough. Let us put aside hostility and conflict. The future of our children are in our hands. If we choose conflict, what will happen to our children?, Mr Rukale said.

During the ceremony at Ngalito village representatives of the chiefs, youth, women and church leaders thanked the Government, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands and the Royal Solomon Islands Police for facilitating the reconciliation process.

The representatives also spoke of their experiences during the RSIPF Joint Operation on the Weathercoast and called on the Government to address the Bona-fide demands of the Guadalcanal people

“We understand and fully acknowledge that the solovisu program has a lot of challenges and cost the Government and our communities time and money. But it must be done in order to mend our broken relationship which were broken by the RSIPF Joint Military Operation in November 2002,” said Mrs Beverlyn Israel, who spoke on behalf of the women in the area.

“This solovisu program is a new chapter in the rural life of women within the communities of Duidui Ward. The women and children of our communities have been displaced in many ways in the last 12 years. We thank the Government of Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo for this ceremony,” said Mrs Israel.

Youth representative, Joseph Piriniu told the ceremony that the rights of the young people in the area were denied during the social unrest.

“We were mentally, physically, socially and spiritually affected. Remember, we are the future leaders of Guadalcanal. Please do not forget us,” Mr Piriniu said. He thanked the Solomon Islands Government and RAMSI for making it possible for the reconciliation process to take place.

As part of the solovisu, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Mr Kola presented a string of traditional shell money and both local and imported food stuff to each of the chiefs

representing villages from Pite to Savuna. In return a representative of the chiefs presented Mr Kola with local and imported food. There will be two more solovisu’s in the Wanderer Bay area.

ENDS

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