Chinese families ‘have lost everything’ says Solomons group

By RNZ.co.nz

A group representing Chinese people in Solomon Islands says many Chinese families have lost everything and been left homeless following the widespread looting and torching of shops and properties.

A protest last Wednesday calling for Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare to step down lapsed into major unrest and three days of rioting.

The Solomon Islands Chinese Association (SICA) has condemned the events which it says has endangered innocent lives.

Chinatown in Honiara, where buildings were torched

Chinatown in Honiara, where buildings were torched Photo: Georgina Kekea

SICA is encouraging all Chinese owned and operated businesses to continue operating in an ethical and fair manner; respecting and abiding by the laws of the country.

It said the Chinese community remains confident in a brighter Solomon Islands despite the violence, which it blamed on a small minority.

The Mayor of Honiara Eddie Siapu has appealled for help to clean up the city with Chinatown and eastern Honiara in particularly bad shape.

“I would like to make a call, an appeal, to my good people of Honiara City to come forward and assist the City Council with a majoro voluntary cleanup in the city. Following the riot and looting in the capital I appeal to the business houses, NGOs, stakeholders, commnity leaders, church leaders and other groups for assistance,” he said.

External help vital in regaining control

Papua New Guinea’s police chief said the deployment of its forces to Solomon Islands helped quell the unrest.

PNG’s deployment of 37 police and correctional services personnel to Honiara followed Australia’s move to deploy over a hundred military and police forces last week.

Police commissioner David Manning says his force was glad to help their Solomons counterparts.

“And our support was not only timely but very much critical to their ability to contain the situation in Honiara. It is very much Papua New Guinea’s intent to ensure not only that we enjoy domestic security but also regional security as well.”

Rioting has ceased in Honiara but security forces remain on high alert as parliament reconvenes.

Manning said PNG security forces could stay longer if needed.

He said the deployment of 37 police and correctional services personnel was critical to their local counterparts being able to contain the situation.

“The deployment marks the beginning of a three to four week deployment for this contingent. There is a coimmitment to support further, depending on the situation in Honiara.”

Australia has also deployed over 100 military and police forces to Honiara.

Meanwhile, the European Union is monitoring the situation.

The EU’s Ambassador for the Pacific Sujiro Seam said they are greatly concerned by what has taken place in Honiara.

“We call on all parties involved to enable a return to peace, calm, stability and security after days of riots, looting and fire,” he said.

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