Australia deploys troops to the Solomon Islands as disturbing scenes erupt with violent anti-China rioters BURNING DOWN a police station and threatening civil war over communist influences
Australia will send troops to the Solomon Islands as the South Pacific nation descends into chaos following anti-China riots.
The Australian National Security Committee held crisis talks on Thursday afternoon after Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare asked the Australian Government for assistance under the 2017 bilateral security agreement.
Scott Morrison announced 23 Australian Federal Police officers are already on their way to support ‘riot control’ with a further 50 to be deployed to protect ‘critical infrastructure’.
In addition, 43 defence force personnel will also set to make the trip on Friday to support ‘critical infrastructure’ like the airport.
Scott Morrison (pictured) announced that Australia will send troops to the Solomon Islands as the South Pacific nation descends into chaos following anti-China riots
An angry mob were captured on video smashing windows and hurling projectiles at the Kukum Traffic Police station before some rioters entered the building and set it alight
People gather near Naha Police station as Solomon Islanders defied a government-imposed lockdown and protested in the capital, in Honiara, Solomon Islands, November 25, 2021
AUSTRALIAN TROOPS IN THE SOLOMON ISLANDS:
AFP sent 23 officers from the Specialist Response Group, plus 50 more.
– Their RAAF plane left from the Canberra on Thursday afternoon.
– A further 50 AFP officers will deploy on Friday.
ADF will send 43 personnel on Friday, all leaving from Townsville.
– About 30 from the 3rd Brigade.
– Medical personnel from the 17th Brigade.
– Military Police unit from the 6 Brigade.
– There will also be a also be a Hercules helicopter sent over loaded with equipment.
‘Our purpose here is to provide security and stability to enable the normal constitutional processes within the Solomon Islands to be able to deal with the various issues that have arisen,’ the Prime Minister said.
Protesters for a second day in the capital of Honiara demanded the resignation of the Mr Sogavare, voicing their concerns about Chinese influence in the country.
Shops and businesses in Chinatown have been targeted by rioters as well as government buildings and police stations.
An angry mob were captured on video smashing windows and hurling projectiles at the Kukum Traffic Police station before some rioters entered the building and set it alight.
Huge flames billowed from the building before a lone firefighter moved in to try and extinguish the blaze.
A 36-hour lockdown has been ordered in Honiara to quell the civil unrest, but so far it has had little effect with similar scenes breaking out all over the right across the captial.
‘The situation remains volatile with reasonably large crowds on the move. The Royal Solomon Islands Police force has been stretched,’ Mr Morrison said.
‘We have received reports of more buildings burning on the main road in the centre of Honiara including a large commercial building and a bank branch.’
A fireman walks past a burning hardware store, during protests against the government in Honiara, Solomon Islands, November 24, 2021,
Smoke is seen coming from a burning store in Honiara, Solomon Islands, November 24, 2021
Tensions have been brewing in the nation of about 700,000 people after Mr Sogavare in September 2019 broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan in favour of Beijing.
The move angered many locals who fear the country’s natural resources – mainly fishing, palm oil and logging – are being fleeced by the authoritarian power.
Beijing handed over about $730million dollars to the Solomon Islands government after the diplomatic switch was made.
Public sentiment is that this money was paid in exchange for a piece of their sovereignty including access to politicians and backdoors to ownership of both and public businesses.
With Australia currently locked in a bitter diplomatic dispute with China over trade, the decision to send in troops supporting Mr Sogavare comes with great hesitation from Canberra.
Australia deployed about 2,200 military personnel to the Solomon Islands back in 2003 as part of it’s Regional Assistance Mission
Soldiers from Delta Company, 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment board Australian Airforce aircraft from Townsville for the Solomon Island to assist the Australian Federal Police, Wednesday, April 19, 2006
The South Pacific leader has long been an out-spoken critic of Australia whose popularity has significantly diminished in recent years.
But if Australia do not act it leaves the door open for Beijing to provide security reinforcements, something Canberra is desperate to avoid.
Australia deployed about 2,200 military personnel to the Solomon Islands back in 2003 as part of it’s Regional Assistance Mission.
Similar scenes of civil unrest also broke out in 2006 after Snyder Rini was elected Prime Minister.
Angry locals believed the vote was ‘fixed’ by powerful Chinese businessmen in the country and as a result Chinatown businesses were looted and burned, destroying about 90 per cent of the district.
Canberra sent troops to stabilize the unrest with the Australian Federal Police staying in the nation to assist law enforcement until June 30, 2017.
Three Australian Army ‘huey’ helicopters arrive on the troubled Weathercoast of the Solomon Islands in 2003
Pictured: An Australian soldier in the streets of Honiara’s devastated Chinatown offers a drink of water to a fellow soldier during patrol, Saturday, April 22, 2006
Critics have called for Mr Sogavare to stand down in order to quell the violence.
But the embattled statesman has remained staunch, showing no signs he intends to leave the top job.
‘No one is above the law … these people will face the consequences of their actions,’ he said in a targeted statement to rioters.
‘I had honestly thought that we had gone past the darkest days in the history of our country.
‘However … (these) events are a painful reminder that we have a long way to go.’