New Brunswick Tribune

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

After violent protests in the Solomon Islands, police discovered 3 bodies

Key takeaways:

  • Fears about the Pacific nation’s developing links with China fueled the violence this week.
  • The Solomon Islands are located around 1,500 kilometers (1,000 miles) northeast of Australia and have a population of about 700,000 people.

In this week’s violence, which was spurred by fears about the Pacific nation’s growing ties with China, police discovered three deaths in a burned-out structure and arrested more than 100 individuals.

After rioting and protests died down, the remains were recovered late Friday, according to Australian media. There were no other specifics provided.

Following the completion of a 36-hour lockdown ordered by embattled Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare on Friday, authorities enforced a curfew in Honiara.

Sogavare charged foreign involvement for encouraging the protesters calling for his resignation, with a thinly veiled reference to Taiwan and the United States.

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Leaders of the country’s most populous island, Malaita, have chastised Sogavare for his choice in 2019 to sever strategic ties with Taiwan in favor of mainland China. Beijing claims Taiwan, a self-governing island, as part of its territory.

Meanwhile, his government has expressed dissatisfaction with millions of dollars in US help promised directly to Malaita instead of through the central government on Guadacanal’s main island, where Honiara is located. For decades, the two islands have been competitors.

China’s efforts to gain diplomatic recognition from the Solomon Islands are part of a rivalry for regional dominance with the U. S. and its ally, Australia, according to Andrew Yang, a professor at Taiwan’s National Sun Yat-sen University and former deputy defense minister.

The Solomon Islands, which have about 700,000 people, is located about 1,500 kilometers (1,000 miles) northeast of Australia. 

They are best remembered for the terrible battle that took place there between the United States and Japan during World War II.

On Wednesday, riots and looting erupted in Hoinara’s Chinatown and downtown neighborhoods, following a calm Malaita rally in the capital.

Solomon Islands police find 3 bodies after violent protests - ABC News

Demonstrators set fire to the National Parliament, a police headquarters, and other buildings, prompting police to use tear gas and rubber bullets to extinguish the fires.

Complaints about a lack of govt services and accountability and corruption, and Chinese corporations hiring foreigners rather than locals have been criticized by critics.

With the emergence of the COVID-19 outbreak shortly after Taiwan switched allegiance to China in 2019, Beijing was expected to invest heavily in infrastructure — locally believed to be in the region of US$500 million — but none of that has happened.

Malaita threatened to hold an independence referendum over the issue, but Sogavare’s government vetoed it.

Australian jet-carrying police and diplomats have arrived in Honiara to assist local police in restoring order. Following a request by Sogavare under a bilateral treaty with Australia, up to 50 extra Australian police and 43 defense force, men were also deployed.

Even though it was a small force, the presence of an independent force just seems to help alleviate some of the violence.

The protests have been followed by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “with worry,” according to his deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq.

“(Guterres) urges for a stop to violence and the safeguarding of hard-won peacebuilding achievements. He advocates for communication and peaceful measures of resolving disagreements. “In a statement released on Friday, Haq said.

Source: CTV News

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