July 10, 2018

RSIPF clarifies issue of West Papua flag at MACFest Melanesian Village in Solomon Islands

Following numerous postings on Social Media concerning an incident at the stall of the Melanesian Province of Indonesia at the Melanesia Village of the MSG Arts and Cultural Festival at Panatina yesterday, 7 July 2018, the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) wish to make the following clarifications:

The Solomon Islands Government has invited the Government of Indonesia to participate in the 6th Melanesian Art and Cultural Festival being held at various venues in Honiara from 1 – 10 July 2018.

With the mandate to protect law and order and provide security in Solomon Islands, the RSIPF put in place an operational order to provide security during the MSG Leaders’ Meeting, the MACFest and the 40th anniversary of independence.

The Order included:

•    Providing security presence at all MACFest venues and other locations based on a risk assessment;
•    Conduct traffic management during the events;
•    Detect and investigate offences during the course of the events;
•    Respond appropriately to any escalating security issues; and
•    The Operation will adopt a “zero tolerance” stance to any criminal activities.

As a result, the RSIPF put in place measures to ensure the safety of both members of the local community and visitor’s from other participating countries.

Based on daily reports including some drunken youth getting into the Indonesian stall and threatening to burn it down and some unknown people climbing the flag poles at the Panatina venue and removed the Indonesian Flag (still missing at the moment) the Police Post at the venue decided to deploy some of its officers to the Indonesian stall.

Yesterday, 7 July 2018 at about 4 pm, some local supporters of the West Papua Freedom Movement arrived at the Indonesian Stall at the Melanesian Village and pulled up the Movement’s flag in front of the stall. This drew a large crowd to the Indonesian stall.

The RSIPF officers at the Indonesian Stall took the flag away from the West Papua Supporters and led them to the Police Post at the venue to tell them that the MACFest is not a political event but an arts festival where people should go and enjoy in a safe environment. The officers took and led the leader of the local supporters of the West Papua Freedom movement into a police bus to get his contact details.

At no time did the RSIPF arrest the local leader of the West Papua supporters. The flag was taken away from them at the location to stop any provocation against the Indonesian delegation. The flag was returned to the owner yesterday.

RSIPF want to strongly advice members of our communities in and around Honiara to refrain from any activity that may cause harm to the peace of our nation.  Anyone who wants to disturb the peace will face the full force of the law.
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