March for Peace in Alotau
Alotau, Milne Bay: A march was organized by the Ministers Fraternal, an ecumenical group of different churches in Alotau, on 16th March at the Festival grounds.
The aim of the march was to proclaim the desire for Peace in Alotau after all the killings and burning of houses that Alotau has been experiencing due to the violence created by Tommy Baker and his group of rascals and the special police force sent by the national government.
In his speech, Bp Rolando Santos of the Diocese of Alotau said that the “Jesus March for Peace” was made by members of the Catholic Church in an effort to create a much-needed peace, adding this would lessen the recent spike in lawlessness in Alotau and its effects that rocked the entire province of Milne Bay.
“Members of the Catholic Church have come here at the Alotau Festival grounds for the Jesus March for Peace to show our solidarity with all the peace-loving people of Alotau and Milne Bay Province, and to pray for true and lasting peace in this beautiful town of Alotau and Province of Milne Bay,” Bishop Rolando told the crowd at the festival grounds.
He condemned the use of violence in solving issues at the expense of human lives and property. Hestated that the march was also a time to extend sympathy and pray for families going through pain and suffering who fell victim to the recent violent experiences in Alotau.
“We are here as well to show our deep sorrow and sympathy to the families and victims of the past atrocities here in Alotau and outlying districts, for those who have died from violence committed by both the police force and so called “rascals”, those who have lost homes, properties and lives from the uncalled for shooting and burning of houses esp. in the New Kitava settlement,” he said.
Bishop Rolando emphasized that everyone had an obligation to respect and abide by the law, and that respect of human life should be the most respected of all.
“The rule of law must be implemented as well as followed by lawful authority and the police force. No one is above the law. Everyone should follow and respect the law, especially respect for human rights and respect for life itself.” he said.
The Bishop said the people of Alotau longed for peace and were ready to join in the march of restoring peace and the reputation of Alotau.
“Like the rest of the people of Alotau, we long for peace and are ready to join them and do what we can to contribute to the advent of peace in our beautiful Alotau and to recover the good reputation we used to enjoy as one of the more peaceful provinces in the country.” he said.
In spite of the rain, about 600 people showed up. There were speeches from representatives of the different churches.