Solomons PM Appeals For Equal Rights For Descendants Of South Sea Islanders

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Lilo speaks at Australian event recognizing ‘blackbirding’ 150 years ago

By Susan Merrell

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, August 19, 2013) – Solomons Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has appealed to Australia to give equal rights and opportunities to the descendants of the south sea islanders.

On the same note, the Prime Minister has also appealed to the descendants of the south sea islanders at Bundaberg, Queensland to ‘forgive’ the traders who brought their forefathers as slaves 150 years ago.

Speaking to a gathering organized by descendants of Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea, Mr Lilo said while it was sorrowful to learn about the story of what happened 150 years ago; our Melanesia people must be encouraged to forgive.

‘I am appealing on behalf of my people and the descendants that Australia must grant equal participation to the lost Melanesian generation," he said.

"I would like to also appeal that we forgive and forget what happened to our people 150 years ago and move forward."

The Prime Minister was speaking at an event held in Bundaberg over the weekend.

Mr Lilo was speaking along the lines from the gospel of Luke 23:34 in which Jesus echoed during his last minutes on the cross ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they were doing.’

"We have come 150 years and I think it is time we must forgive those who have done wrong to our Melanesian forefathers," he said.

Mr Lilo said it would not be easy but as children of God, it was the right thing to do.

"We have to move on for the sake of our children’s children," he said.

Mr Lilo’s message has received praise from Chiefs and elders of participating Melanesian countries.

One of the chief’s from Vanuatu said Prime Minister Lilo’s message was the way forward for this generation.

Descendants of the south sea islanders who flocked in to attend the ceremony shed tears when Prime Minister Lilo gave his speech; appealing for forgiveness and equal participation.

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