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