Fear World War II relics might never return

Japanese cannons at the open-air Vilu War Museum at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands AAPIMAGE

There is concern that recently extracted World War II relics at Balalae Island in the Short land islands of the Western Solomons might never return to the island.

The Committee overseeing the extraction project of World War II relics at the island said the remains were extracted without their consent.

Spokesman Chief Edward Kimele explained since the committee’s establishment in April this year, it has been working to send the relics to Australia for rehabilitation as tourist attraction for Solomon Islands.

”For this project, the committee was formed on April to look into the long standing issue of WWII relics in Balalae.

“In April the committee agreed to work on procedures to finalise the program by which the war relics will be send for rehabilitation in Australia, before sending them back to Solomon Islands for display,” Chief Kimele said.

However Chief Kingmele said three men from the community signed a consent document without his permission and issued it to the government to conduct the extraction.

”The leaders , the traditional landowners and the perpetual land title holders have not finalised anything when three men signed a consent letter on my behalf and gave it to an agent,” he said.

He said it was contensive issue because the committee had not done a wider consultation with the traditional land owners.

Chief Kingmele  said they were now concerned if the remains leave the island, the chances of them returning is shallow because there was no Memorandum of Understanding signed.

He said the people of Balalae would not receive any benefit from the agreement.

He added, an access agreement must precede extraction as the island is owned by the people and the relics, by the government.

”Although the government owned the relics, the island is owned by people,¬† so the first issue is the consent letter which we are to issue but the three men have done it on my behalf.

“I think it is wrong because I did not give my consent. And secondly, there is no access agreement before the extraction of the debris, so that is not right,” Chief Kimele said.

 

By: Allen Waitara

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