SOLOMON IS: Provincial ban on Solomon Star
Pacific Media Watch Online:
By Duran Angiki
GIZO, Solomon Islands (Wantok Press): The Solomon Islands' only weekdays daily newspaper, the Solomon Star, has been
banned from sale in the three provincial towns of Western Province.
The ban followed widespread anger over what critics claimed as "the newspaper's clear bias and consistent glorifying of
the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF)".
Critics said there were two sides in the ethnic conflict on Guadalcanal Island, the MEF and rival militia Isatabu
Freedom Movement (IFM).
But critics said that over the last 19 months, the newspaper only consistently covered issues that highlighted and
The Solomon Star agent in the Western Provincial capital, Gizo, Richard Tekifono, yesterday confirmed that the ban had
been put in place since June 5.
He said the public in the province had threatened him due to what they claimed as "the newspaper over dramatising and
sensationalising of MEF criminal activities in Honiara."
Critics accused the newspaper through its agents in the province of bias towards the MEF and ignoring of "human
suffering" in its weekly coverage.
Tekifono said the allegations against the newspaper had caused resentment towards the Solomon Star, with critics
labelling it as "an MEF propaganda newspaper".
A leading advocator of media freedom in the Solomon Islands, Dr John Roughan, earlier expressed similar sentiment about
the newspaper over dramatising in pictures of MEF operations in Honiara.
Dr Roughan said the newspaper should give prominent coverage to the "human suffering" caused by the conflict, instead of
glorifying the MEF.
The Solomon Star publisher, John Lamani, said the newspaper was only carrying stories and pictures of events that were
actually taking place in the country.
He added that the events were part of the country's history and they should be recorded for future references.
Tekifono said the newspaper coverage of the conflict had reached a stage where the public in Western Province no longer
saw it as objective journalism.
Public anger led to the ban on the sale of the Solomon Star in the three Western Province towns of Gizo, Munda and Noro.
Western Province Premier Ruben Lilo today said his government respected the wish of his people but did not necessarily
support the ban.
His government needed to know what was going on in the country and the outside world and only the media could provide
But the premier's view failed to change the ban and the critics' claim that they were fed-up with reading one-sided
stories that glorified the MEF.
The Solomon Star is the only weekdays daily English newspaper in the country. It has been published out of the Solomon
Islands capital, Honiara, since 1982.
The newspaper is owned by a Malaitan publisher, John Lamani, who is from
Kwara'ae in Malaita Province.
His news team comprises of a Malaitan news editor with two Malaitan reporters and two other reporters from different
ethnic groups in the Solomon Islands.
In late 1997, Guadalcanal militants, now known as Isatabu Freedom Movement (IFM), took-up arms against Malaitans
occupying customary land on Guadalcanal island since 1945.
The conflict resulted in more than 20,000 Malaitans displaced on Guadalcanal and more than 60 people killed.
This saw the birth of the Malaitan Eagle Force (MEF) which claims to represent displaced Malaitans on the island of
Events dramatically changed the scenario in the Solomon Islands when the MEF, led by leading lawyer and former
politician, Andrew Nori, raided the police armoury in Honiara and took over the government in a coup on June 5.
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