Independent Office supports Seleso’s call

Rolland Seleso

THE Office of the Leader of the Independent Group in Parliament has supported the call made by Hon. RollenSeleso, the Provincial Member for Vatukulau Ward.
Seleson urged the Government to pay compensation to the children, women and men of South Guadalcanal who came under fire from the patrol boat owned by the government between 2001 and 2002.
Hon. Seleso made this call in a statement which appeared in the local media last week.
The Office of the Leader of the Independent Group has supported the call because it understands that in 2001, a state-owned patrol boat was used to shell villages in Vatukulau, Duidui and Talise Wards in South Guadalcanal.
“At that time, three people were killed at Vatukulau, and 2 people were killed at Taupada village in the Malagheti area. Also during another separate attack in 2001, the patrol boat shelled surrounding villages at Sughu Anchorage in Talise Ward.
“In 2002, two more shelling operations of villages in the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal were launched by the government patrol boat.
“The first one was at Ghorabau Village, and on a separate occasion at Savuna and Komate Villages in Duidui Ward. At Ghorabau village, the shelling went on non-stop for more than an hour and an estimated eighteen people lost their lives.
“The next day, members of the Joint-Operation’s ground troop landed at Ghorabau Village and burnt down all the houses. After burning down the houses and destroying property, they marched survivors at gun-point to Biti Village where members of the Joint-Operation were stationed,” the office said.
Altogether, unconfirmed reports estimated a total of 23 deaths during the 2001 and 2002 patrol boat attacks on the Weathercoast, South Guadalcanal, the statement said.
“According to reliable sources, the patrol boat shelling was focussed mainly within an area that was marked in red ink between Cape Hunter and Vatuloki Village in Duidui Ward in the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal.
“Apparently, these atrocities were committed after the signing of the Townsville Peace Agreement (TPA) on 15th October 2000.
“The TPA brought an end to the hostilities between the MEF and the IFM and for the restoration of peace and harmony in Solomon Islands.
“Therefore, it is generally assumed that the immunity of the perpetrators of the killings, looting and burning of property, rape and other atrocities prior to 15th October 2000 may come under the provisions of the TPA.”
“Clearly, the government-owned patrol boat shelling of villages in the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal happened after the TPA was signed, and the perpetrators may be liable for prosecution, the statement said.
“Furthermore, an International Peace Monitoring Team (IPMT) was already present and at work to bring about peace in the Country at the time.
“Indeed, the demand made by Hon. Seleso for the government to reveal who signed the order for the patrol boat to be dispatched to South Guadalcanal and to carry out what could be best described as ‘genocide’ or ‘crimes against humanity’ ought to be properly investigated so that all those who are responsible are brought to justice.
“Any such investigation must first of all look at the question of who was responsible for the weakening of state institutions such as the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF). Was the Commander-in Chief or the Commissioner of Police in full control of the RSIPF or somebody else at the time?
“This question will link closely and take us back to the question of who was responsible for breaking into the Rove Police Armoury as well as the question of who masterminded the June 2000 Coup?
“Of course, the incumbent PM who was the Prime Minister and those in Government at the time of the Weathercoast patrol boat attacks also need to be questioned as they will obviously be “close to the action” as it were. The current Deputy Prime Minister may know a thing or two as well about who was in the patrol boat during the various attacks during 2001 and 2002 in South Guadalcanal.
“As with all other killings, loss of property, rape and other atrocities committed against women, girls and children during the ethnic crisis, the DCC Government must not resort to band-aid solutions in addressing the Weathercoast patrol boat attacks in 2001 and 2002.
“Already, the DCC Government is seen by many concerned and well-meaning Solomon Islanders as trying to hide something by steam-rolling its National Apology, Healing and Reconciliation Programme prior to this year’s independence anniversary.
“That was a total waste of more than $7million of taxpayers money as no one was healed, whilst cash payments is being paid to the perpetrators and not a single cent to the victims as yet!
“We are now at a stage where our Country is still crying out for the truth. If we hide the truth, Solomon Islands cannot prosper. Without the truth, we cannot reconcile. Forgiveness is the key but we will never get over the sad events of the ethnic crisis if the truth, and nothing but the real truth is revealed. Otherwise, all our people who are affected will be victims for the rest of their lives.
“Political leaders in Solomon Islands today ought to know that the essence of politics is good communication and accountability. All our people are asking is for us to tell the truth, and be prepared to admit that we have made a mistake when we have done something wrong,” the statement said.
The Office of the Leader of the Leader of the Independent Group in Parliament is aware that aggrieved parties of the Weathercoast patrol boat attacks in 2001 and 2002 are looking at this issue very closely and are seeking avenues to bring those responsible to answer for their crimes.