Military seizes Fiji journalists
By MICHAEL FIELD –
Two Suva journalists have spent their second night in police cells after they reported on how the Fiji military dictatorship had freed soldiers jailed for killing civilians.
Media sources in Suva, who cannot be named due to fears for their safety, hold concerns for Dionisia Turagabeci and Shelvin Chand, of the website Fijilive. The website is not reporting on the fate of its own journalists.
Dictator Voreqe Bainimarama imposed martial law on Fiji last month and has extended it another month, imposing censorship on all media.
Earlier this year a soldier was convicted of murdering a civilian. In a separate case nine soldiers and three policemen were convicted of the manslaughter of a civilian.
They were sent to jail for terms ranging from eight years to life, but last week all were released on parole.
Fijilive reported this on Friday and on Saturday Turagabeci and Chand were picked up and taken to Suva Central Police Station.
They have been held in separate cells since and have not been allowed to see friends or lawyers.
Although the military have purported to abrogate the constitution and there is no superior court system, it is likely the two journalists will be taken before the Magistrates Court and charged with breaking the emergency regulations.
Last week military spokesman Neumi Leweni hailed the effect of martial law censorship.
“The people of Fiji are now experiencing a remarkable change from what used to be highly negative and sensationalised news to a more positive, balanced and responsible reporting by the media,” Leweni said.
The nine soldiers and three policemen freed had been convicted of manslaughter after graphic evidence of how they tortured 19-year-old Sakiusa Rabaka to death a month after the 2006 coup.
His mother, Alanieta Rabaka, mounted an emotional and drawn out regional media campaign to get justice.
Helen Clark and John Howard, prime ministers of New Zealand and Australia at the time, took up the case.