9 Mar 2010

Solomons Truth Commission hears first witnesses

4:00 pm on 9 March 2010

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Solomon Islands has heard harrowing stories from the first victims of the ethnic tensions to appear before it.

The commission is holding its first day of hearings into the tensions that claimed 100 lives and displaced about 20,000 people between 1998 and 2003.

Our correspondent Dorothy Wickham says the victims so far have included a woman whose brother was killed by police, and a woman whose husband was axed in front of their children.

She said a man spoke of how he has been caring for his uncle's children since he was taken by militants in 1998.

"He says that those who killed him must come forward and tell the family where they put his body or if he is still alive to return him home to his people. And he said I have lost my home, my plantation and my uncle and my life because of what has happened and he called on the government to take seriously, trying to address the atrocities that were committed in that period."

Dorothy Wickham says the hearings are being broadcast nationwide and the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice, religious leaders and school children have attended on the first day.