Citation(s) from the literature library

Alpers, Philip and Conor Twyford. 2003 ‘Stockpiles and Trafficking in the Pacific: Security Force Armouries.’ Small Arms in the Pacific; Occasional Paper No. 8, p. 24. Geneva: Small Arms Survey, the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva. 31 March

Relevant contents

Security Force Armouries

Small arms stolen or otherwise obtained from security force armouries have featured prominently in all three conflicts in Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Bougainville. Indeed, in each of these conflicts, access to state armouries - often with the complicity or open support of the security forces - has been pivotal.

In Fiji, the May 2000 raid on parliament could hardly have been executed without assault rifles stolen from the Fiji Military Force armoury. The number of firearms used in Suva was small - only seven gunmen executed the coup, and Speight later provided arms to perhaps another 100 young rebels - yet it was sufficient to unseat a democratically elected government. Members of the Fijian Army's Counter-Revolutionary Warfare Unit - ironically, a crack team established in the wake of two earlier coups in 1987 - were implicated in providing these arms, and many also defected to support Speight during the coup (Ali, 2000; Simpson, 2000).

In the Solomon Islands, members of the Royal Solomon Islands Police (RSIP) paramilitary force colluded directly with Malaitan militants in the theft of approximately 500 powerful firearms, including SR-88A assault rifles and Ultimax 100 machine guns, which were subsequently used to overthrow the government (Kabutaulaka, 2000a, p. 5; Fennessy, 2002, p. 2).

During the nine-year crisis in Bougainville, both combatant factions - the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and the Bougainville Resistance Forces (BRF) - were known to have used stolen or 'gifted' PNGDF firearms.(27)

Most of the firearms used in the coup in Fiji, in May 2000, appear to have been returned. However, in Bougainville and the Solomon Islands, hundreds of former security force firearms remain in circulation, adding to the challenges of disarmament and fuelling violence and armed crime.

Sources cited:

27) Interview with Lt.-Col. Andrew Morris, Defence Adviser, NZ High Commission, Port Moresby, 14 Aug. 2002.

Ali, Imran. 2000. 'Troops Gave Takeover Weapons.' Fiji Times (Suva). 27 February, p. 3.

Ali, Imran. 2002. 'Troops in PM Kidnap Plot.' Fiji Times (Suva). 26 February, p. 1.

Kabutaulaka, Tarcisius Tara. 2000.'Beyond Ethnicity: The Political Economy of the Guadalcanal Crisis in Solomon Islands.' Paper presented to a seminar on Fiji, Solomons, and Vanuatu. Canberra, July.

Fennessy, J.G. 2002. 'IPMT Audits of Rove Armoury.' IPMT fax correspondence, 11 June.

[IPMT = International Peace Monitoring Team, Solomon Islands]

ID: Q9176

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