The Guardian August 13, 2003


Let the people decide!

Statement from the Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (Suva, Fiji) 22nd 
July 2003

The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre (PCRC) is wary and gravely concerned 
about the deployment of 15 Australian military personnel in the sovereign 
state of the Solomon Islands to pave the way for the arrival of another 
2000 strong forces.

Australia has no justification for their intervention even if they say it 
was upon request by the Solomon Islands Prime Minister Allan Kamekeza. To 
our knowledge a public referendum has not been conducted in the Solomon 
Islands to justify the Prime Minister's drastic decision. In August 2000 a 
National Peace Conference organised by the Solomon Islands Christian 
Association (SICA) in Honiara, which was a collective effort by Solomon 
islanders at addressing a comprehensive peace process clearly pointed in 
the direction of "demilitarisation under international control", amongst 
other principles which they saw fundamental to the peace process and 
regaining stability.

A hundred and fifty (150) Solomon islanders from the island provinces, 
church delegates, women and youth organisations as well as the business 
sector and the traditional authorities such as the village elders and 
chiefs participated in this conference convened on board the New Zealand 
frigate Te Kaha off the coast of Honiara.

And it is for this reason that PCRC pleads with Solomon Islands leaders not 
to trade off their peoples' sovereignty, indigenous rights, cultural 
heritage and dignity. Moreover, PCRC challenges Solomon Islanders and other 
Pacific leaders including Australia to assist in providing a platform in 
which Solomon Islanders can determine for themselves the type of 
government, reconciliation and reconstruction needed in bringing about a 
sustainable future.

If Australia Government genuinely feels for the humanitarian dilemma 
Solomon Islanders are facing then they should reject the arrogant and neo-
colonial recommendations made by the much-publicised Australian Strategic 
Policy Institute (ASPI) stating that "the collapse of Solomon Islands is 
depriving Australia of business and investment opportunities".

PCRC is appalled at the alleged plans for an establishment of a "governing 
council of about 12 people led by a chief executive with a light infantry 
company on standby, a judicial team of 20, prison staff, a group of 
accountants and other financial managers to administer the economy".

This cheque-book diplomacy and military strategy of the Australian 
Government will not resolve the crisis. The further proposal by ASPI that 
"A constitutional review be held, with a form of federalism as an option" 
is even more preposterous.

There is no mention or consideration for Solomon Islanders to determine for 
themselves whether federalism is the most appropriate form of government in 
the country.

Clearly, the sovereignty of Solomon Islands is being flagrantly disregarded 
under this grand scheme. If this intervention by Australia is left 
unchallenged and unquestioned, the Pacific will be setting for itself a 
dangerous precedent.

To reiterate, Solomon Islanders have clearly outlined the foundation in 
which they want the rebuilding of their country to take shape and it will 
be opportune to fully exhaust the mechanisms within the United Nations 
first.

We urge the Solomon Islands Government and Pacific Governments to consider 
an internationally and UN backed approach as requested by civil society 
organisations in Solomon Islands three years ago. PCRC believes that an 
alternative to the current dominant military paradigm advocated by 
Australian Government for Solomon Islands is needed to resolve the 
situation of conflict and therein lies the challenge.

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For further information visit: http://www.PCRC.org.fj/

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