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“Will ABC’s Q&A in Fiji ask these questions?” (30 11/2019)


Will ABC’s Q&A ask these questions in Fiji?
Fiji’s forgotten five lives, or is it more?

Professor Wadan Narsey

This coming Monday (2 Dec. 2019), Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s popular, intellectual and governance flagship program, Q&A, will be hosted in Suva, Fiji by its most popular and incisive host, Tony Jones.

Questions will be asked and diplomatically answered by Fiji’s Attorney General (Aiyaz Khaiyum), Alex Hawke (Australian Minister for the Pacific), and others.

But you can be sure that there will be no questions asked of the Fiji Attorney General (or other relevant Fiji state functionaries) about Fiji’s gross abuse of the most fundamental human right to life of five CRW soldiers who, following the 2000 mutiny, were taken from police custody by the Fiji military and ended up dead that evening, without the benefit of trial, judge or jury.

It would seem also that even the most responsible element of the Fiji media is unable to ask these questions through a Letter to the Editor (FT) I sent on the 16 November 2019, not published for reasons unknown, but may be guessed at.

Letter to Editor of Fiji Times

Human Rights, Raj, Qiliho and Pryde and former Military Officers

16 November 2019

Dear Sir

Some members of the public would have been reassured to read in today’s Fiji Times (16 November 2019) that the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission director Ashwin Raj declared after recent allegations of police brutality that

“The Commission strongly condemns all acts of torture and brutality and as it has proceduarally all such matters, the commission will conduct its investigations and where there is sufficient evidence of human rights violations, will institute proceedings”.

Some members of the public may also have been reassured to hear similar declarations from the Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho who guaranteed his own personal attention to the same case, where police officers are alleged to have tortured a citizen.

I remind the Fiji public that it is a matter of public record that following the 2000 mutiny by some CRW soldiers, five other CRW soldiers not necessarily associated with the mutiny (Selesitino Kalounivale, Epineir Bainimoli, Logani Rokowaqa, Jone Kamoedavui and Iowane Waseroma) were denied their basic human right to life, following severe and brutal torture that resulted in their death, all without the benefit of any trial, judge or jury.

According to the recorded 2006 findings of Resident Magistrate Ajmal Gulab Khan while awarding Kalounivale’s widow $24,000 under the Workers Compensation Act against the Fiji Military Forces, on 3rd November 2000,  the five soldiers were taken from the custody of police to the Naval Base, then later delivered by the military to the CWM morgue that very evening after interrogation by the military.

I am sure that members of the Fiji public who genuinely believe that all are equal before the law and that all are entitled to the basic human right to life, would like to hear what actions, if any, have ever been taken by the following civil servants whose salaries are paid by taxpayers and whose duties and responsibilities also cover the above case referred to:

(a) The director of HRADC (Mr. Ashwin Raj)

 (b) Police Commissioner (Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho)

 (c) The Director of Public Prosecutions (Mr. Christopher Pryde).

 Those concerned about the immensely increased role of the military in Fiji might also wish to read this article “Military Superior’s Duty to His Subordinates” by Alfred Avins (Missouri Law Review, Volume 31, Issue 3 Summer 1966) which sets out clearly not just the duties of superior officers to protect subordinates, but also devotes a section to the illegality of intentional violation of the duty of protection, including maltreatment, physical abuse, and unlawful punishment without authority.

 I would therefore also like the responses of the following former military officers who not only hold the highest positions in Public Office today, but whose salaries are also paid by taxpayers to whom they are ultimately accountable:

 (e) The President of Fiji (Major General Konrote)

 (e) The Speaker of the House, former President and former Commander of RFMF (Brigadier General Rt. Epeli Nailatikau)

 (f) Prime Minister and former Commander of RFMF (Voreqe Bainimarama)

 (g) Leader of the Opposition and former Commander of RFMF (Maj. General Sitiveni Rabuka)

Given the recent grand statements in Geneva by Ambassador Nazhat Shameem (the former High Court judge who presided over some 2000 coup cases), I am sure the UNHRC would also be interested in the responses of the seven public officers above to the five deaths I am referring to.

Yours sincerely

Professor Wadan Narsey (Concerned Fiji citizen)

To the above list may be added the name of the current Commander of the RFMF, Viliame Naupoto, who is rarely to be seen or heard.

I suspect that with the Attorney General Khaiyum fronting up to the Q&A Panel, his devoted acolytes Ashwin Raj (Director of HRADC) and Christopher Pryde (DPP) will probably also be in attendance to provide moral support, and may even be asked by someone brave in the Q&A audience to respond to the above questions.

Of course, with the Australian Minister for Pacific Affairs (Alex Hawke) also on the Q&A Panel in Suva, he may also be asked what information regarding the above horrific “incident” was deposited with the Australian Government by the then Fiji Commissioner of Police (the late Andrew Hughes), also an Australian citizen then and who had subsequently also made public his views after fleeing from Fiji.

The Fiji public might note that even the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (Sitiveni Rabuka) has made no attempt to raise these questions in Parliament and who knows, he may even front up to the Q&A in Suva. It may be pertinent that Rabuka was once charged for involvement in the 2000 mutiny but was not convicted by the judge.

Of course, questions may also be asked regarding what actions the Bainimarama Government has taken to deliver justice equally to all, for the several other deaths in the custody of Fiji’s security forces.

Another set of questions may be asked of the Commissioner of Police (Qiliho), the Director of Public Prosecutions (Christopher Pryde) and the Director of Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission regarding the 2013 death of  one Puna Chand (a Lautoka farmer) who was hit by a car, allegedly driven by a current Bainimarama Government Minister. Three years later, the alleged driver of the car (Praveen Kumar Bala) was acquitted by the Sri Lankan Magistrate (Rangajeeva Wimalasena) because of allegedly contradictory evidence by the wife of the deceased (Arun Wati)  and police officer (Sergeant Rajendra Kumar) regarding who exactly was driving the car and in a dangerous manner.  But did the Police investigate who else could have been driving that car that killed Puna?

Yet even more questions may be asked of the Fiji Attorney General about the origins and the legitimacy of the 2013 Constitution which the Bainimarama Government imposed on Fiji without any public consultation and approval by any parliament, and its provisions for immunity allegedly granted for unspecified crimes between 2000 and 2014. I had asked these questions  in a Fiji Times article actually published in Fiji on the 9th November 2019 and so the Q&A audience have no excuse for not asking these questions from the floor. That article is also available on this website:

More questions may be asked about why the Bainimarama Government should ban from Fiji its most eminent former Fiji citizens Professor Brij Lal (one of the architects of the last legitimate 1997 Constitution) and scientist Dr Padma Lal, both probably the most eminent ever graduates of The University of the South Pacific, which is hosting this Q&A session in Fiji.

Will these questions be asked in Fiji’s Q&A?

Will any answers be given in Fiji’s Q&A?

It remains to be seen if ABC’s Q&A and host Tony Jones  can be as honestly forthright and hard-hitting in Fiji as it usually is in Australia.

If he wishes to be, he can expect some honest answers from one of his panelists, Ms Virisila Buadromo, a well known human rights activist and former Head of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement.

It remains to be seen whether Fiji citizens and the hordes of “important” Fiji people who will no doubt front up to the Q&A in Suva on the 2 December 2019, care enough about the basic human right to life and equality before the law of its most humble and politically weak citizens, to ask these questions of the powerful in Fiji and the Pacific.

Professor Wadan Narsey

30 November 2019.

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