Tutu launches Solomon Islands truth and reconciliation body

Tutu launches Solomon Islands truth and reconciliation body

By agency reporter
29 Apr 2009

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has flown to the Solomon Islands to launch a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, modelled on the body he chaired in South Africa to tackle crimes and injustices under the former the apartheid regime.

The Solomon Islands dissolved into chaos and violence from 1997 to 2003, chiefly as a result of conflict between gangs from the islands of Malaita and Guadalcanal.

Over 100 people were killed and 20,000 displaced in the fighting, reports The Australian (http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/). Given the size of the Islands, these figures are highly significant.

The Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, led by Australia, then intervened at the invitation of the under-pressure Solomons' government.

Archbishop Tutu, described as "a sprightly 77", launches the commission today in front of thousands of people crowded into the Lawson Tama stadium.

Dr Tutu, a Nobel Peace prize winner will speak at the launch conference, entitled 'Winds of Change' - the phrase late mid-twentieth century British prime minister Harold Macmillian used in a speech seen as prefiguring the eventual collapse of apartheid South Africa.

The Solomon Islands conference will bring together former fighters from Malaita and Guadalcanal, the latter being the island of the capital, Honiara.

Speakers will also come from neighbouring Bougainville, where a fierce civil war raged in Papua New Guinea and from other countries.

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