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Solomon Islands: Why Are People Protesting?

Solomon Islands: Why Are People Protesting?
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Solomon Islands: Why Are People Protesting?

Solomon Islands: Why Are People Protesting?

MELBOURNE, Australia – Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Thursday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck. Police in riot gear stormed a rally on Thursday, removing hundreds of protesters by truck.

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets after protesters stormed the National Assembly on Wednesday and set fire to a police station and buildings in Chinatown. On Thursday, more buildings in Chinatown were engulfed in flames, local media reported.

Here is what we know about the protesters’ complaints.

According to officials and local news reports, several protesters marched from the island of Malata to the island of Guadalcanal, the country’s capital.

Experts say the two islands have been plagued by decades of dissatisfaction, mainly due to unequal distribution of resources and lack of financial support, making Malata one of the least developed provinces in the nation.

Malata has long been dissatisfied with the central government’s decision in 2019 to change its political allegiance to China from the autonomous island of Taiwan, which China claims as its territory.

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China under the Communist Party, Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accused Beijing of bribing Solomon politicians.

The Solomon Islands is an archipelago of about 1,000 islands in the Pacific, some 1,000 miles northeast of Australia. The population of the island chain is only 650,000, mainly farmers and fishermen.

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Malata is the most populous of the islands with a population of 160,500 compared to last year. With dense jungles, mountains, and volcanoes, it is 30 miles northeast of the large island of Guadalcanal across the inevitable Strait.

The 2019 decision found the island nation in the throes of a geopolitical war, which shook Taipei’s global standing and Washington’s regional diplomacy.

The United States considers it important to prevent China from increasing its influence over the Solomon Islands and other Pacific nations.

China is investing heavily in the Pacific to the detriment of US officials. In 2019, a Chinese company signed a lease agreement with one of the islands, but the Solomon Islands attorney general later ruled the deal illegal.

Some experts draw a straight line from the 2019 decision to this week’s turmoil.

Sinclair Dinen, an associate professor in the Department of Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University, said there was “a lot of sadness about the switch” behind the riots.

The head of Malayata, Daniel Suidani, has been a vocal critic of the prime minister’s decision, and Malayata has maintained relations with Taiwan in violation of the central government’s role and has won their support, Mihai Sora said. Former Australian diplomat at Lowe’s Institute and Solomon Islands.

He said the existing fractures in the country have deepened as China supports the central government in providing foreign direct aid to Malata.

“Geopolitical competition does not in itself cause riots,” said Shri. Sora said, “But these are the actions of big nations because they create empathy for local artists – some prefer to pursue their own strategic objectives over others regardless of what they already have. . “

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He accused the protesters of being politically motivated and said in a video address that “today our nation saw another tragic and unfortunate event aimed at bringing down a democratically elected government.”

Mr. Sogware also testified that the authorities will find the organizers of the agitation and give them justice.

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According to a statement posted on social media, the Chinese embassy in Honiara called on the authorities to protect Chinese residents.

The embassy said it had “asked the Solomon Islands to take all necessary measures to strengthen the protection of Chinese industry and workers.”

He also advised Chinese residents in “high-risk areas” to close their businesses and hire security guards.

Mr Sora, a former Australian diplomat, said that in a country where civil unrest is not uncommon, the police appear to have responded “quite competently”. He said there were no signs yet that the government would be able to control it.

On Tuesday, before the protests began, but as Malaysians began to gather in the capital, a group of federal Malatan members of parliament called on Mr Sudan and the protest leaders to “refrain from provoking the Malays to engage in illegal activities.”

He called on opposition members of parliament to “refrain from igniting the flames of violence and provocation.”

As of Thursday, 16 buildings in Chinatown had caught fire or were reduced to ashes, according to Nathan Ruser, a researcher at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. He reached the number by cross-referencing photos with on-the-ground video and area maps.

Videos posted on social media showed a large crowd in Chinatown as smoke billowed from the buildings.

Other individuals and groups were protesting for various reasons, Drs. Dinen said.

He said the maneuvers by political opponents to overthrow the government and opportunistic rioters had contributed to the increase in crowds.

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