10 Mar 2010

Solomons Truth Commission advocates reconciliation

2:51 pm on 10 March 2010

The chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Solomon Islands says victims of the ethnic tensions are calling on their perpetrators to come forward so they can be reconciled.

The commission is holding its first hearing into the conflict which left about 100 people dead and 20,000 displaced between 1998 and 2003.

Amnesty International has called on the government to protect those who speak publicly because it says there is a danger of reprisals.

But the commission's chairman, the Reverend Sam Ata, says rather than expressing fear of reprisals, the victims so far have issued a powerful message of reconciliation to the perpetrators of violence

"That's the message they have put across to the country, that they are willing to forgive them and reconcile with them, so I don't know if there is a fear there after the victims have made a plea for these people to come forward, then that is something else."

The Reverend Ata says it is difficult to say whether there could be reprisals but it is a possibility.

He says the hearings will be open to everyone to speak, including perpetrators.