Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Fiji Youths arrested and tormented over Free Fiji March and DVD


Posted on Coup Four Point Five - 02 March 2011

"These young people we made to do duckwalks, run around, crawl and kiss each other in the hot sun, while some soldiers cheered and made fun of them. They were also beaten and kicked around the ribs and backs."-

"So far only high profile figures have been highlighted in many overseas media and blog posts, so the plight of ordinary citizens detained by the military is hardly reported. "

A human rights worker in Fiji details the latest abuse!

On the 26th of February, the XXXX was advised of various arrests following a raid of the political party Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party. A concerned youth relayed to the network how his father was taken by military officers from their family home in Nausori Town on the 26th February "they came at 9pm at night, and were shouting at the gate for my father, they took him and returned him on the 27th of February at 2pm in the afternoon. He was beaten up and have bruises when he returned". His arrest was due to a DVD that was distributed discrediting the Military Junta's efforts.

On the 26th of February also, the XXXX was advised of the arrest of four youths in Wailoku. They were arrested at 1pm and taken to the Queen Elizabeth Barracks. We were informed that their arrest had to do with a planned 'protest on the 4th of March', I with two other human rights youth advocates and parents of two of the detained youths arrived at the Camp at 3pm to negotiate and to call for the immediate release of the youth's, when we arrived at the gates of the camp we saw young people ( 7 youths) running around the ground in the distance (a portion of the ground is visible from the gate) and been taunted and constantly been hit by solders on the Camp grounds. 

One of the parents of the youths arrested from Wailoku identified one of the persons running in the ground as her son, she started crying and kept pleading to the soldiers at the gate to release her son. The youths were than told to sit in the sun, some were visibly injured. They were later told to get up and move to a part of the ground that was hidden by fauna. There was at least 20 soldiers in the ground.

We were not allowed to come into the camp and were kept at the gate. At this point one of our youth activists began filming on he's digital camera as I began negotiating with a Sgt Turaga on the immediate release of all those on the ground. Sgt Turaga ordered that we leave immediately. A military truck arrived at 3:55pm and a military officer grabbed the digital camera and slapped one of the youth activists, he later punched one of the parents who moved in to help our peer.

I was literally pushed several times by another military officer and ordered to "fuck off". Although a few of the solders had guns, no one attempted to threaten us with them.

At this point we saw all the youths coming out of the gate, as they walked towards us, a few solders were swearing at them. At the gate some of the youths stopped to pick up their wallets, watches, and phones. We greeted all the youths (some needed immediate medical attention), but the military officers kept ordering us to leave the camp. We all left immediately fearing that we would be targeted next. We advised the youths and their parents to write statements, they have come back to the network in phone conversation to say that they were very scared to write anything or go to the doctors.

In a phone conversation with one of the youths who was arrested on 26th, I was told of the inhumane treatment they all faced at the military camp. These young people we made to do duckwalks, run around, crawl and kiss each other in the hot sun, while some solders cheered and made fun of them. They were also beaten and kicked around the ribs and backs. 

They were told that if they complain or are seen to be distributing anything against the government, they would be cut up and thrown into the sea. The youth, also informed me that all those arrested were at a house on the night of the 24th in Wailoku, drinking grog, where they were discussing a protest planned for Suva, on the 4th of March by some people on the internet. The internet source was asking people to assemble at the Albert Park.

I have since informed the youths concerned to write statements and document their injuries, we can also meet with them to do this. They have been shaken emotionally and fear for their lives. We are very concerned with the targeting of young people in the recent escalation of human rights abuses in Fiji. So far only high profile figures have been highlighted in many overseas media and blog posts, so the plight of ordinary citizens detained by the military is hardly reported.

These citizens are hunted down, detained and abused. Many are also interrogated and forced to undergo various 'military exercises'.

I now see, that it is very important that human rights activists station themselves at military institutions when news of arrests happen and negotiate the immediate release of detainees. Also the indignity surround those who are detained is a 'crime against humanity' and we are currently drafting a letter to Fiji's Military backed President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, asking for a stop to the recent violence against Fiji Citizens.

The violence on Fiji's citizens must stop immediately. (Report has been compiled for Amnesty International and was given to Coupfourpointfive)

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