Keke in a prison van in Honiara after surrender
From Issue 46, Autumn 2003
of sympathy over murdered brothers
MESSAGES of condolence from around
the world I poured into the Solomons home of the Melanesian Brotherhood following
the disclosure that seven brothers, held hostage by warlord Harold Keke and his
gang in the Guadalcanal Weathercoast, had been killed.
Richard Carter, the Anglican order’s British chaplain, said that letters had
been received from Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, United Stares, Vanuatu. Switzerland. Germany. Ireland. South Africa. India - and Iraq.
of Solomon Islanders crowded into St Barnabas Cathedral in Honiara for a four-hour memorial and
thanksgiving service, which was broadcast live to the nation.
were also held in PNG, Australia and New Zealand as well as at Exeter and Chester cathedrals in Britain.
Archbishop James Ayong, Anglican
Primate of PNG, was among more than 80 mourners
at St Philip’s in Earls Court, London.
Bro. Richard revealed
that six brothers, including the deputy head brother, Robin Lindsay, were
apparently murdered soon after they went to the Weathercoast in April to
recover the body of another brother who, they knew, had been killed.
Ellison Pogo strongly refuted rumours that they had been spying for the government.
after their deaths were confirmed in August, Keke a 32-year-old policeman
turned warlord surrendered to Nick Warner, the Australian diplomat appointed to
co-ordinate the Australian-led intervention force, in Mbiti, the main village
of his stronghold.
his entourage of nine, including two top lieutenants, were flown to an Australian
troopship, HMAS Manoora, and taken to Honiara.
later appeared at a makeshift court and were remanded in custody on charges of
attempted murder and theft.
are continuing into Keke’s alleged role in dozens of killings including the
Melanesian Brothers, a government minister and a Catholic priest, More than l,000
refugees from the Weathercoast have testified to a “reign of terror of murders, rapes and
surrender, following weeks of negotiations, was a watershed in efforts to
disarm militants in years of ethnic fighting between the Guadalcanalese and the
settlers from Malaita. Keke had refused to take part in the peace talks in
arrival of an Australian led 2,230-strong intervention force of troops, police
and civilian advisers in the Solomons in July was the biggest military
operation since the Second World War. The force includes personnel from Fiji, New Zealand, PNG and Tonga. A Canberra official said the role of the
troops would be “to act as waiters and bouncers” to the police.
the action, Helpem Fren, is in response to an appeal by the Solomon’s prime
minister, Sir Allan Kemakeza, and is a joint operation by the Pacific Islands
The intervention is seen as marking
a new beginning in the region which will be more heavily influenced in future
by Australia and New Zealand. Both countries have long resisted
raising their profile. Barely a few months ago such a deployment would have
things have changed since Iraq. The fear is that domestic and
economic chaos could provide a haven for gun runners, drug dealers and
terrorists. The collapse of states such as the Solomons is not seen just as a
humanitarian problem, but a security one.
of law and order will continue to be a priority, in conjunction with a
crackdown on illegal weapons. A 21-day gun amnesty ended at midnight on Aug 22 with 3.700 guns
corollary is to prop up the crumbling economy. Australia has given a £10.4m additional aid
package to stabilise this year’s budget, and provided 17 advisers for the
Ministry of Finance
Howard, Australia’s prime minister, predicted in late
September that more interventions may be needed in the region,
Of the Solomons-type
operation, he said: ‘I think there’ll be more of those. And we certainly have
to make sure that we have a capacity to deal with them,’’
would not give a date for the withdrawal of the intervention force from the Solomons.