FIJI COMMANDER'S CHILDREN WHISKED TO SAFETY AMID UNREST RUMORS

admin's picture

SUVA, Fiji Islands (November 10, 2000 – USP Journalism/Fiji Sun/Fiji TV/Pasifik Nius)---Fiji military commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s two children were whisked away from school yesterday by army bodyguards amid rumors of major civil unrest in the capital.

The spate of rumors was covered by Fiji Television last night and on the front page of the Fiji Sun today.

According to the Fiji Sun, Commodore Bainimarama’s son Meli, who is head boy of Marist Primary School, left classes yesterday morning escorted by three soldiers.

The commander’s elder daughter also was removed from St Joseph’s Secondary School by armed bodyguards around midday.

Both of Commodore Bainimarama’s children have been going to school with at least two personal bodyguards daily since last week’s bloody mutiny at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks, which claimed the lives of eight soldiers.

The first of the three loyalist soldiers killed at the barracks was given a full military funeral yesterday amid tight security.

Both the Fiji Sun and Fiji Television reported that rumors of unrest had caused parents to panic and collect their children from schools, while some people fled the central business district.

Many students at Samabula Primary School were sent home early. Shutters were put around the National Bank’s plate glass windows.

However, business elsewhere in Suva was normal.

Fiji Retailers Association Ramesh Solanki confirmed that he had heard about reports of unrest in Suva early yesterday morning.

"The police assured us that the reports were just rumors so business went on as usual," he told the Fiji Sun.

Military spokesperson Major Howard Politini said normal security measures were in place and no special security orders had been given.

Commodore Bainimarama, Interim Home Affairs Minister Ratu Talemo Ratakele and Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase attended the funeral service at the Latter Day Saints church in Naulu yesterday for 36-year-old Private Jone Veilewai.

Military bodyguards carried guns around the church because of the commander’s presence, and Nasinu Cemetery was also heavily guarded by soldiers.

Private Veilewai was the first soldier killed in the mutiny by rebels in the mutiny on November 2.

He was a clerk working in the Force Mobile Reserve orderly room and was reportedly shot in cold blood when the rebels launched their assault.

His widow, Liku Veilewai, said: "I feel bad inside, angry at those who killed him. He was innocent."

"And my son is too young to have to bear this kind of pain. No one had the right to take him away."

The dead soldier had an eight-year-old son, Junior, and a daughter, Melaia.

Title -- 3101 FIJI: Commander's children whisked to safety amid unrest rumors Date -- 10 November 2000 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- USP Journalism/Fiji Sun/Fiji TV, 10/11/00 Copyright -- USP Journalism/Fiji Sun/Fiji TV Status -- Unabridged

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/  USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/  USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): http://www.scoop.co.nz/international.htm  Have your say: http://www.TheGuestBook.com/vgbook/109497.gbook 

This document is for educational and research use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source before reprinting.

PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific.

Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius:   niusedita@pactok.net.au  http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/index.html 

Rate this article: 
Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

Add new comment