Governor orders Pitcairn Island 'sanitized' of all firearms
ANGWIN, Calif., USA, August 9, 2004 ------- The governor of Pitcairn
Island in the South Pacific Ocean has ordered the confiscation of
all firearms on the tiny island in the latest of what many are calling
a long list of his prejudicial moves made to gain conviction of
seven Pitcairn men on sex abuse charges.
In a report reaching the Pitcairn Islands Study Center here it
is learned that all those on Pitcairn must voluntarily turn in all
their firearms by September 7, 2004, or have police conduct a house-to-house
search for firearms not surrendered.
The confiscation is seen as a move to sanitize Pitcairn
of firearms, except for those of Ministry of Defense police officers
now on the island, during the trial of seven Pitcairn men which
is scheduled to begin on September 23.
Most of the Pitcairners suspect the no-firearms order will be
extended indefinitely beyond the trial period.
Except for bloodshed within just a few years after mutinous sailors
from H.M.S. Bounty settled on Pitcairn in 1790, there has never
been a murder by a firearm on the tiny island. The .22 caliber rifles
and a few shot guns on the island have always been sparingly used
for what the Pitcairners call workaday purposes.
The governors order was delivered to the Pitcairn Island
Council, the local governing body, on Thursday, August 5, by Pitcairn
Police Officer Brenda Christian. It drew immediate, stunned reaction
from Pitcairners both on and off the island.
My word, wrote one on-island resident to Pitcairn
Governor Richard Fell, we are being treated as if we are a
murdering, suicidal bunch of no-good, good-for-nothing sex-craved
cowboys; as if Pitcairners were a gun-toting trigger-happy people
who cant do without their guns on their hips.
If that is what we are like, wrote the Pitcairner,
then how about removing our knives, including those we keep
in our kitchens and those we wear on our belts; our eating forks,
any sharp objects like needles. And why not remove our motorcycles
and our tractors (which could be used to run over someone), our
garden tools, our matches which could be used to burn down someones
house with them in it, our petrol which could be used to make bombs,
our poisonous fish and poisonous plants which could be used for
poison, our electricity which could be used to electrocute someone.
I suppose the next thing to come about would be that wed
be banned from our cliffs just in case we shove someone off
or we jump over ourselves.
I ask what the removal of our guns would really do? It certainly
wont make my tiny island any safer or more unsafe than what
is now. All it would show is that those responsible for making such
ruling dont really know the people they are supposed to be
serving, said the Pitcairner.
It all brings to mind that we are not really a democratic
place at all, that someone is dictating to the people of Pitcairn
how we ought and ought not to govern our own affairs.
Except for the unknown type of weaponry held by British police
now on the island, there are no automatic or semi-automatic firearms
on Pitcairn. Islanders owning .22 caliber, and similar firearms
use them to shoot down high-hanging breadfruit or coconuts, or more
infrequently to shoot wild goats for meat, wild cats, wild chickens
or the plague of Pitcairn rats..
Knives carried on the belts of Pitcairners are used in open-ocean
emergencies to quickly cut ropes holding Pitcairn boats to ships
that call at the island, or for wood-carving of objects the islanders
sell to those on calling ships.
Many see Fells firearms confiscation as another move that
is certain to have a prejudicial effect on his appointed judges
who will be coming to the island to try the accused.
This sends a clear message to those who will judge the Pitcairners
- even as many other of the governors previous actions have
that no one on Pitcairn, whether accused of not accused,
is to be trusted. How can a trial be fair with the many similar,
prejudicial moves of this governor? said an off-islander.
Among the governors numerous moves thought by many to be
prejudicial to a fair trial are his -
Making an unprecedented flurry of laws that favor conviction,
and crying fire on Pitcairn to the public in the crowded
theater of public opinion.
Appointing all judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys of the
case; deciding almost singly every particular of the trials without
broad counsel, each particular favoring a pre-conceived view of
the trial and its outcome.
Building on Pitcairn, long before any trial is held or any verdict
handed down, a jail that just happens to have the exact
number of cells in it - seven - that corresponds to the number -
seven - who are accused.
Subjecting all on Pitcairn - those accused as well as those not
accused - to a virtual police state, with as many as nine police
officers on the island at one time to control not more
than 30 adult Pitcairners, thus making it appear all are guilty,
where there might well be none even among the accused.
Placing social workers on Pitcairn the islanders did not ask for,
from which, when publicized, makes it appear the islanders are suffering
great social distress for anti-social acts supposed to have occurred
up to more than 40 years ago, when, in fact, these professionals
have had little or no use by the Pitcairners, the assignment, being
to them, mostly a well-paid vacation.
Allowing the setting of a trial date and completing planning for
a trial on a specific date when legitimate appeals in the case have
not yet even been heard.
Suppressing any talk about the trial by Pitcairners, while not
requiring the same by the prosecution, himself or his deputy, thus
denying the Pitcairners any public voice while the governor and
his prosecution appointees can court public opinion that favors
the governors and the prosecutions wishes relative to
Refusing to interfere, even to the making of a statement of condemnation,
when the governors appointed judges and prosecution team members
were caught in the act of photographed sexual poses that clearly
show them making light of the serious charges they will be prosecuting
and judging of the accused in the future.
Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to assure the logistical,
material and judicial success of the trial, while relegating the
crying need for infrastructure improvement on Pitcairn to a back
burner, needs only now bringing promised relief, needs which may
never actually be met given the many unfilled similar promises of
Initiating the possibly illegal demand that New Zealands
Parliament pass a law that allows Pitcairners to be tried in that
country, thousands of miles from their homeland, and clearly contrary
to Pitcairn law and practice.
Publicly declaring that the accusations against the Pitcairners
are for acts of a most serious nature, without having
any of the acts first tested in a court of law, thus courting public
opinion for conviction.
Appointing only two defense attorneys to handle the trial of seven
Pitcairners, a woefully inadequate defense team for the seven men
who are accused. The governor is not affording the accused the full
range of legal service to which they are entitled by reason of this
Giving an inadequate time of only seven weeks to the trying of
seven Pitcairn men. This is a rush to judgment what will likely
not be adequate to a fair trial.
Giving implied consent to threats by investigators to alleged
victims, the offering of money to victims in exchange for possibly
incriminating testimony, and the badgering of victims. This calls
the entire legal process in this trial into question.
Essentially ignoring the threat to a fair trial posed by way of
the four years of time that have elapsed since investigation began
of the accused who still have not come to trial.
Leaving all those investigated with no legal counsel for years
until finally the government appointed a defense lawyer shortly
before official charges were laid.
Given all that has happened to prejudice this case - pre-judge
- this case by this governor, it is certain that the apprehended
mutineers of HMS Bounty received a fairer trial in the eighteenth
century for their crime than are their descendants on Pitcairn in
the twenty-first century receiving for what may or may not be their
crimes, said an off-islander.
Pitcairn Islands Study Center, 1 Angwin
Ave., Angwin, CA, USA. Herbert Ford, 707-965-6625, 707-965-2047, Fax: 707-965-6504,
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: http://library.puc.edu/pitcairn