Monday, May 14, 2007

Human Rights Abuse by Military Continue in Fiji

Taoi to lodge complaints of rights abuses
Monday May 14, 2007

Interim PM Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama
A Suva businessman will file a complaint of alleged human rights abuses he suffered at the hands of soldiers with the Fiji Human Rights Commission and the police.

Ulai Taoi, who is also president of the Fiji Indigenous Business Council, is currently collating details of the alleged abuses while in custody at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks at the weekend.

Taoi told national television that he was locked in a cell and ordered to strip to his underwear.

He said he was questioned several times by several soldiers about blog sites which the army considers anti-Interim Government and anti-military.

Taoi alleges he was also beaten by soldiers.

The military confirmed Taoi was taken into custody but refused to comment on the alleged assaults.

The incident is the first reported after the Interim Prime Minister Commodore, Voreqe Bainimarama said in March that the Fiji Military Forces does not condone violence or use of force.

Following a meeting with senior officers on March 6, 2007, Commodore Bainimarama said the soldiers would only be involved in manning checkpoints, community work, and public relations.

The commander issued a statement at that time after claims that two civilians died at the hands of soldiers and several others were allegedly assaulted and mistreated during questioning.

I was assaulted by soldiers, says Taoi
Sunday May 13, 2007

Fiji Indigenous Business Council president Ulai Taoi claims he was physically assaulted by soldiers when he was taken in for questioning at the military barracks late last week.

He was suspected of being the anonymous blogger known as Fijian black who has been criticising the military in his blogs.

Taoi appeared on Fiji Television saying he received bruises on his arms, knees and a gash on the left side of his face.

He was taken in on Friday and released yesterday.

"It was an inhumane condition, being stripped to underwear you know that's not on," he said.

"Then came the beating I was subjected to in the evening. What kept me going was my friends and family."

The military when contacted confirmed that Taoi had been taken into custody but refused to comment when asked about the alleged beating.

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