Fiji Police Detain Protestors Including Political Leaders

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Chaudhry, Beddoes, Baba among those opposing new Constitution

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Sept. 6, 2013) – 14 people have been arrested outside the Fiji Government House in Suva while peacefully protesting against this afternoon’s assent to the new constitution.

Those arrested are from the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, the Pacific Centre for Peace-building and other Fiji citizens.

The executive director of the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Virisila Buadromo, says three of her staff have been taken into police custody and had their phones seized.

She says they were protesting that the constitution is unjust and does not reflect the views of 7,000 people who made submissions on it.

"It was a silent, peaceful protest outside the President’s residence. Police turned up and said they had to put away their placard, and they refused, and they were told to get into the police vehicle and taken up to the police station where they are currently being held in custody."

Ms Buadromo says lawyers are trying to negotiate their release.

She says the remaining protestors have gone to the Criminal Investigation Department in Suva, where those in custody are being held.

[PIR editor’s note: According to an article in the protestors were held for about 14 hours and then released.]

FBC News says the leaders of the United Front For a Democratic Fiji have presented a letter to the President to express their opposition to the constitution.

Among its members are Mick Beddoes and Tupeni Baba of the Social Liberal Democratic Party and Mahendra Chaudhry of the Fiji Labour Party.

Mr Beddoes says the letter calls on the President not to assent to the Constitution, but instead appoint a caretaker government that will take over until elections promised for next year.

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