The Deputy Opposition Leader and Member of Parliament for East Are Are, who is also Shadow Foreign Affairs Minister, Hon. Peter Kenilorea Jr., has questioned the Solomon Islands Government’s support for a statement at the United Nations praising the Chinese government’s widely reported inhumane treatment of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang Province.
This is the first time Solomon Islands has given such support to China on a controversial issue at the UN.
“I am deeply concerned about Solomon Islands’ support for the statement which commended China’s supposedly remarkable achievements in the field of human rights when independent observers have already documented well the systematic racial discrimination and suppression of the fundamental rights of their own citizens.
“The Uighur Muslims are a minority ethnic group in China. Many of them have been detained in detention centers by the Chinese government.
“This inhumane treatment is to allow Chinese authorities to brainwash the Uighar with communist principles and even force them to adopt the more predominant Chinese Han culture,” the Shadow Foreign Minister states.
Hon. Kenilorea summed up this unacceptable situation by saying, “imagine a reverse scenario in the context of Solomon Islands wherein a predominantly ethnic Melanesian Solomon Islands detains and systemically brainwashes and suppressed the fundamental rights of ethnic minorities like Polynesians/Micronesians or other minority ethnic groups – and having China praise us for doing so at the UN”.
He added that “this kind of systematic inhuman treatment by a dominant ethnic group over another would never be tolerated in a democratic Solomon Islands”.
Kenilorea states that this ungodly suppression of over a million souls in China is unchristian.
“This treatment by the Chinese communist government of their own citizens who happen to belong to another culture is against the Christian principle of doing unto others what you would have them do to you,” Kenilorea further added.
He said “by supporting a statement, which praises a suppressive Chinese government, SIG, at the global level, is also going against Solomon Islands’ own constitution which itself guarantees fundamental rights, including religious freedom for all Solomon Islanders.
“I am further concerned that by supporting China’s inhumane treatment of its own citizens, SIG is undermining our own national constitution and values.
“The question remains what did Solomon Islands gain from supporting China on this controversial issue? Were promises made? Who is benefitting from this controversial position that was made in the name of our nation?” Kenilorea questioned.
The Shadow Foreign Minister then cautioned the government, stating that “our positions at the United Nations should always adhere to and be reflective of our own values, including those that are enshrined in our constitution”.
He points out that no promises of monetary or material gain can justify taking such a questionable position at the UN.
“We need to be true to ourselves and we will be respected both at home and abroad”.
Kenilorea highlighted the fact that, except for Solomon Islands, no other pacific island countries supported this position of praising China at the UN and this comes as no surprise.
“It is no surprise to me that no other Pacific Island country supported China’s position on this matter at the UN. This is because all Pacific Island Countries are Christian Countries with common shared values. They took the right position and I commend them for that
Kenilorea also questions the reasons behind this support by SIG for China, stating that it further raises questions on the process involved within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the PMO, and cabinet that led to Solomon Islands’ taking such a controversial position at the global stage.
“It is also a further concern that the position Solomon Islands took in supporting Chinese inhumane treatment of their own citizens was at odds with the position taken by Solomon Islands’ traditional development partners.
“On this issue, Solomon Islands’ position is the opposite to that taken by our traditional development partners. This is yet another concern I have. I call on the government to be mindful of these situations going forward’, Kenilorea further stated.
The Shadow Foreign Minister goes on to state that “this recent position taken by Solomon Islands at the UN underscores the need for SIG to be vigilant at the global level as well now as our position on controversial global issues will now be increasingly influenced by Beijing”.
Kenilorea reiterated that “in all leadership matters and decisions, including those at the international level, the government must put Solomon Islands interest, people, and values first”.
And on this specific issue of Chinese suppression of its own citizens and racial discrimination in China, Kenilorea advised that it would have been best not to take any position on this matter and join all other Pacific Island Countries who did exactly that by staying out of this issue altogether and not aligning with either China or the UK, US, and allies.