Guns were responsible for the darkest days in this country’s history.
The trauma from the deeds that were done with a finger on a trigger are still being felt today.
I must therefore congratulate the Government.
This firearms amnesty is one of the powerful and meaningful things it can do to make the country safer, to protect the current and future generations of this nation; and, to create a brighter outlook for all Solomon Islanders.
I have one message. It is the same message being delivered by the Government and by the Church: turn in your guns. Turn in your gun if you are a former combatant and failed to hand in your weapon in 2003. Turn in your gun if you kept a weapon to protect your family. Turn in your gun if you have a rifle for hunting.
This is the price of continued peace and stability.
I particularly urge the families and wantok of people that have guns to help us. Help us to make the country gun-free. Help us to prevent crime occurring in the future. Help us to ensure that every Solomon Islander feels safe and secure in their homes, villages and towns.
Mothers, youth and children – talk to your fathers, talk to your brothers, talk to your sons. Encourage them to do the right thing – for themselves, for their families, for wantok, and for their country.
There is no legitimate reason for a member of the community to have a gun. A gun in the wrong is hand deadly. Even if it does not work, a gun can frighten and intimidate. There is no excuse for leaving a weapon buried or hidden.
RAMSI personnel know only too well the grief and tragedy when one of your own is shot and killed.
For all these reasons, RAMSI is happily and strongly supporting the planning, collection, safe storage and destruction of the firearms that will be surrendered to the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF).
I hope our involvement gives gun holders across the country the confidence and knowledge that the amnesty is genuine and the process is safe and fair.
I warmly welcome the cooperation of the Executive and members of the Solomon Islands Post-Conflict Rehabilitation and Restoration Association (SIPCRRA). The community is looking to former combatants, amongst others, to do the right thing. You have promised to assist. And, I think, that if we see former militants surrendering their remaining weapons we should acknowledge this as an important step in the reconciliation and reintegration of these individuals back into the community.
So, on the eve of RAMSI’s departure, Solomon Islanders are being presented with a choice and the opportunity to guarantee a better future.
After RAMSI’s departure on 30 June next month, the security and future of this nation will be fully in the hands of Solomon Islanders.
Do the right thing today, for a better tomorrow.