Solomon Islands police find 3 bodies after violent protest
CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA – Solomon Islands police have found three bodies in a burned building and arrested more than 100 people in this week’s riots over concerns about the Pacific nation’s growing links to China.
Australian media reported the bodies were recovered late on Friday after the riots and protests subsided. No details have been given.
Authorities imposed a curfew in the capital, Honiara, after a 36-hour lockdown ordered by Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare ended on Friday.
Sogavare blamed outside interference for stirring up protests calling for his resignation, with references to Taiwan and the United States being covered up.
Sogavare has been widely criticized by the leaders of the country’s most populous island Malaita over its decision in 2019 to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of mainland China. Beijing claims the self-governing island of Taiwan as part of its territory.
His government, meanwhile, has been frustrated by millions of US aid promised directly to Malaita, rather than through the central government on the largest island of Guadacanal, home to Honiara. The two islands have been rivals for decades.
Andrew Yang, a professor at Taiwan’s national Sun Yat-sen University and a former deputy defense minister, said China’s effort to win diplomatic recognition from the Solomon Islands is part of a competition regional dominance with the United States and its ally, Australia.
The Solomon Islands, with a population of about 700,000, are about 1,500 km (1,000 mi) northeast of Australia. They are best known for the bloody fighting that took place there during the Second World War between the United States and Japan.
Riots and looting targeting Hoinara’s Chinatown and downtown areas broke out Wednesday after a peaceful protest in the capital by people from Malaita.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, who set fire to Parliament House, a police station and other buildings.
Critics also blame the unrest on complaints about a lack of government services and accountability, corruption and Chinese businesses giving jobs to foreigners instead of people. local people.
Since the change of allegiance from Taiwan to China in 2019, huge infrastructure investment from Beijing has been expected – rumored to be around US$500 million – but with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic soon after the change, none of that has yet to materialize.
Malaita threatened to hold an independence referendum on the issue, but that was quashed by Sogavare’s government.
A plane carrying Australian police and diplomats is in Honiara to help local police restore order. More than 50 Australian police and 43 defense force personnel were also deployed at Sogavare’s request under a bilateral treaty with Australia.
The presence of an independent force, though small, seems to help quell some of the violence.
Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq, said:
“(Guterres) calls for an end to violence and protection of hard-won peacebuilding achievements. He calls for dialogue and peaceful means to resolve differences,” Haq said in a statement. Dad on Friday.