One of RAMSI’s earliest and constant boasts was that the intervention had improved the security of the Solomon Islands through the collection and destruction of small arms.
RAMSI Does Not Withhold Information on Guns, Media release, RAMSI website, 30 August 2007
“RAMSI Special Coordinator, Tim George, today said claims that RAMSI was withholding information on the presence of weapons in the community were simply not true.
“Speaking in response to comments made by the Prime Minister in Parliament on Tuesday, Mr George said that neither he nor his two predecessors as Special Coordinator had ever said that all weapons had been recovered.”
IDG – one year on, Paul Jevtovic, Platypus magazine, 2005
“The initial deployment met with overwhelming support from the Solomon Islands community and made significant operational gains. More than 4000 arrests were made, including powerful militant leaders and corrupt police officers and more than 3700 weapons were collected during gun amnesties, 670 of which were military-style weapons.
“Many villages now have signs that declare them weapons free. To mark the significance of this, a dawn dedication service was held in July 2004 where signatories and officials marked the burial of all weapons seized by RAMSI. They now lie buried under a monument at Police Memorial Park at Rove. An adjacent monument pays tribute to the memory of all police officers killed on duty. A stone monument seals the weapons burial place with a plaque which reads: “Sealed beneath this monument are the destroyed remains of thousands of weapons surrendered to the National Peace Council and Officers of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands July 2003 to July 2004. Working together as friends and partners with the people and government to restore law and order and establish a gun free Solomon Islands.”
3CER sapper at the cutting edge, Cpl Sean Burton, Army – the soldiers’ newspaper, 14 August 2003
“A sapper from 3CER was at the cutting edge of the first Op Anode weapons destruction ceremony in Solomon Islands. Spr Craig Reedman destroyed 25 surrendered weapons in a flurry of smoke, sweat and sparks with an angle grinder in front of appreciative Solomon Islanders. Watching from the crowd of about 200 were Regional Assistance Mission officials including Head of the National Peace Council, Paul Tovua. Mr Tovua joined Spr Reedman in cutting up the first weapon, which he held aloft to a cheering crowd. During a speech he said weapons being destroyed had been handed in over the previous three days as the first of approximately 2000 police and troops serving with the RAMSI began arriving in the country.”
Firearms destruction, Australian War Memorial (AWM) photograph
In the first week of Operation Helpem Fren (pidgin for ‘help a friend’), a nationwide gun amnesty was announced which ran for three weeks from 1 to 21 August 2003. As a result 3730 weapons were handed in, including 700 high powered military style weapons, many improvised or modified guns, and over 300,000 rounds of ammunition. The decision was made to publicly destroy the weapons to display RAMSI’s commitment to ridding the nation of firearms.
Australian soldiers destroy weapons , Australian War Memorial (AWM) photograph
In the football stadium at Honiara, Solomon Islands, Australian soldiers destroy weapons before a crowd of locals who have been cordoned off behind a rope. The soldiers are members of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI), whose aim is to bring peace and stablity to the nation after a period of political unrest, ethnic tension and violence. Other members of the multi-national force are standing guard.
Firearms collection, Australian War Memorial (AWM) photograph
Bullet proof jackets and weapons handed in by or confiscated from members of Solomon Islands militant groups, during and subsequent to the firearms amnesty of August 2003. The weapons are seen in storage at Camp RAMSI near Honiara. …The jacket in the centre carries a Biblical reference, “If God before us who can be against us”, which was worn on clothing by members of the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF), one of the principal militant groups. Many of the weapons handed in and confiscated were destroyed by members of Australia’s 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment (3CER).