Police arrests 59 in Rendova over logging dispute

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Members of the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) this morning arrested approximately 59 people on Rendova Island, Western Province.

In a special press conference held this afternoon, the police commissioner Mathew Varley confirmed the arrests were in relation to an ongoing logging dispute which ended violently last week at Vasara logging camp.

“A group of about 60 villagers armed themselves with basic weapons and demanded the logging company to leave within 7 days.

“The 7 days’ notice lapsed yesterday.”

Mr Varley says the dispute resulted in a disturbance and exchanges that resulted in injuries and damaging of logging equipment.

He says during the initial stages of the dispute, police were deployed to negotiate and ensure peace is preserved.

“Last week and during the weekend, police deployed more numbers including those from the Police Response Team, to negotiate and preserve peace.

“When negotiations were unsuccessful, police moved in today and arrest majority of those allegedly involve in the disturbance.

“Police will transport the suspects to Gizo where they will face charges and appear in court in due process.”

Mr Varley says police moved in to enforce law and order after negotiations failed.

He says police are investigating the original incident.

“Our job is to preserve peace in the community. Whatever that is a problem on the logging issue is something for responsible authorities to look into.”

The Commissioner of Forest have been notified.

Police remind Solomon Islanders to always solve disputes by dialogue and within the bounds of the laws and not by taking laws into own hands.

By Solomon Fresh-Beat Online