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Militants come together for peace and reconciliation

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 13, 2009) – Guadalcanal’s perpetrators and victims of recent ethnic tensions have supported the approach taken by Winds of Change to bring them to the round table.

They include the former commanders of Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM), Marau Eagle Force, Guadalcanal Liberation Front (GLF), Government Joint Operation Force and women who lost their husbands.

Winds of Change, a non government organisation last week brought them together to share their experiences and reconcile in a three-day workshop held at SWIM headquarters in Lungga.

The workshop was a follow up from the one held at Forum Fisheries Agency, which retired South Africa Archbishop Desmond Tutu was the main guest.

Justin Paskal, a former IFM former commander, said the workshop helped them meet their old rivals during the tension.

"I had the chance to meet the former commander of Marau Eagle Force," he said.

"This is important in our efforts for reconciliation and peace building," Mr. Paskal said.

A Marau Eagle Force commander, Patrick Haukere, said the workshop should pave the way for Government to facilitate the rehabilitation package to ex-militants and reconciliation.

"In the workshop, we have found real peace because we revealed all our secrets and accepted forgiveness," he said.

"We will now go out to our respective places and preach the good news to our people," he added.

A widow, who lost her husband during the tension, Sentica Joash, said the workshop had really changed her life.

"We have experienced a very hard life during the tension.

"However, when I attended the workshop, it helped me to forgive and want to reconcile with those who murdered my husband," she said.

Former GLF commander, Derol Kikolo said the six days of workshop organised by Winds of Change had helped him alot.

"I come to understand that real peace comes from heart," Mr. Kikolo said.

"We have to accept Jesus Christ first before we can achieve real peace," he added.

One of the government-backed joint operation officers, Reginald Billy said the Government, Guadalcanal Province and stakeholders need to support Winds of Change to extend their programme in the country.

"Reconciliation can come about if we change personally.

"If we don’t change ourselves first, then reconciliation cannot be achieved," he said.

"I accept what Wind of Change was doing because it helps us to change our mindset.

"Government, Province and other stakeholders need to support Wind of Change because it is the right approach that leads to true reconciliation," he said.

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