On Sunday, the country paid homage and respect to the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) for restoring peace in the country by commemorating its 20th anniversary.
Minister of Police, National Security & Correctional Services, Anthony Veke, said in his speech that the years leading up to the intervention of RAMSI are forever etched in the memories of all Solomon Islanders.
“It is a time in the lives of Solomon Islanders that brings back emotions and dark thoughts.” In fact, even in our present situation, we are never truly free from the shackles and pain that those years (1999–2003) brought us.
Minister Veke said that as leaders, they continue to feel the impact it has on our country, both socially and economically, as well as culturally.
“However, we will always be forever grateful that we are free from that part of history.”
The Minister said in 2003, when we were at our lowest point, our then Prime Minister reached out to the Australian Prime Minister for assistance, and by June 2003, the Pacific Islands Leaders Forum met and endorsed the RAMSI deployment under the “Biketawa Declaration.” And by July 2003, the first RAMSI boots had landed on our shores.
“I wish to say that on that day, 20 years ago, it was not only a dreamlike moment for Solomon Islanders who witnessed the arrival of RAMSI, but it was a moment that our hope was renewed and restored.” At that point, we knew that good things were ahead, and what was once darkness now has a glimmer of light.
“That first RAMSI arrival brought with it a list of events that have changed the course of history as well as guided our destiny.” We have been able to build ourselves brick by brick from the rubble of conflict, and today we are much surer than ever before of what we want.
RAMSI comprised both military and police components, and the focus was on the restoration of law and order as well as peace and stability. By mid-2013, RAMSI was solely a policing mission, working in partnership with the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force to build a modern, effective, and independent police force that has the confidence and support of the community.
By June 2017, the official component of RAMSI had left our shores, closing with it a chapter of regional partnership and history.
“These RAMSI officers left our shores, leaving behind a legacy to be proud of and memories that this nation will cherish.
“Let us give thanks and praise to the hard work of those who are still living with us, and let us give due recognition and respect to those who have gone before us.” It has been 20 years since RAMSI, and a lot has happened, but still, the RAMSI period will have lasting memories. “These memories must not fade but be cherished and respected, and those who made these memories possible deserve our utmost respect.”
The Minister said this 20th anniversary of RAMSI is a celebration of regional partnership and respect. It is time that we value the meaning of “Helpem Fren,” and for that, we will never stop being grateful. RAMSI will forever be our friend, and we will never forget those who have helped in those operations. Those living or those who have gone before us It was a complex mission, but RAMSI overcame it and achieved a lot. The Solomon Islands would not be where we are today had it not been for RAMSI. Operation Helpem Fren has indeed lived up to its mantra, and this nation is standing proud today because of the efforts that RAMSI has shown and provided.
The Minister conveys to all RAMSI member countries and the government and people of Australia a heartfelt thank you and respect from the government and people of the Solomon Islands.
“Though we have gone through many challenges since the 20 years that RAMSI has arrived, this country is standing tall and proud because of those sacrifices and well-intentioned intentions.” “We have gone through tough times, but we have come out more certain of our future, and this is thanks to all the regional partners that have enabled us to prevail,” he concluded.