Malaita Eagle Force members before Truth and Reconciliation Commission

A group of former members of the militants Malaita Eagle Force have been given the opportunity to appear before Solomon Islands Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was the first time Malaitans have been able to appear before the Commission set up to investigate the causes of the ethnic violence that gripped Solomon Islands between 1997 and 2003.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearing has received the backing of the government and the provincial government of Malaita. The Premier of Malaita Edwin Suibaea has praised the 19 former militants for taking the brave step in testifying before the TRC. “Especially our participating ex-combatants who responded positively to the call despite opposition from peer groups and other ex-combatants. As Premier of Malaita and the former chairman of the Malaitan Peace and Reconciliation Committee, it is an honour to be here today to congratulate you and encourage you to participate as best as you can in the public hearing to witness history in the making.”

Commission chair Father Sam Ata said the apology came as 19 combatants from the Malaita Eagle Force gave testimony. Ata says the militants told the hearing they’d retaliated after the government failed for 18 months to respond to their demands for compensation for the deeds of Guadalcanal forces.”They took up arms just purely out of revenge for what the Guadalcanal Revolutionary Army did to women and girls, they raped women, and also the girls and violently harassed the people from Malaita.” Father Ata says while the Malaitan militants were cautious about speaking about their own actions for fear of prosecution, the apology is an important part of the healing process.

Before their appearance, Dyke Angiki, Head of TRC Communication Unit said about 19 ex-MFE militants were members of the core group that had been provoked to pick up arms when the ethnic tension started in 1998. He said these former militants had stayed in touch with their rivals from Guadalcanal and would like to see this country move forward.”They went through screening twice before being selected for this hearing. They should go through the process of counselling with the local counsellors throughout this week until Monday.” Fr Maka and other counsellors are doing the counseling for them.

ABC  Pacific Beat Former Malaitan militants testify in Solomons TRC
Central Malaita Student Association
Radio New Zealand
Image: ICJT

News category: Asia Pacific.

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