|EN FORCE: RFMF troops at QEB grounds.|
The RFMF has resorted to inviting Australian and New Zealand media to visit the Queen Elizabeth barracks to prove its soldiers are not beating and torturing Fiji citizens.
In a second day of denials, Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga has again rejected outright that soldiers beat and abuse locals.
In an interview with FijiLive, he insisted Fiji was doing well and there were no problems: “If we had security issues and problems, then we would not be having increased number of tourists, investments etc."
Tikoitonga went on to make accusations of his own. He said: “There is more abuse in Australian detention centers than could ever happen in Fiji."
He urged media in Australia and New Zealand to come and see firsthand how well the country is doing.
“I personally invite Australia and New Zealand to Fiji to see how Fiji has increased Tourism, investment etc, stop speculating,” he said.
Unfortunately, for Tikoitonga the beatings are documented and well-publicised thanks to revelations by freedom blogs and human rights groups like Amnesty International making sure the international community hear of the abuse.
A source within the junta last week confirmed to Coupfourpointfive that the regime has imposed another crackdown and is using the PER to round up people who oppose it.
The source said as long as the PER is in place, the military would use it to intimidate people and consolidate its hold on the country and its citizens.
But Tikoitoga today tried to shift the blame on police saying the Military only assists police in apprehending people when they are asked to and when the PER has been breached.
“All investigations are done by police and not us,” he said.
Tikoitoga also denied outright the former Land’s Minister Sam Speight, who is also known as Samisoni Tikoinasau, was beaten by military soldiers. He said: "That is not true."
Earlier, he was quoted thus by FBC:
"My friend there is a lot of accusations on the government by the same people who have continued to propagate against government activities here in Fiji, and unfortunately like I said they are airing their grievances in the wrong forum. However, I would be the first to testify that the military forces are not taking the lead in any investigations or any arrests. Any investigations or arrests in Fiji now are being handled by the Fiji police force. They do need help every now and again and under the Public Emergency Regulations that are in place in Fiji; the Fiji military forces does go out and help impose arrests where the police want our help, and we have done that. But we've handed over all the people that we got and given to the police, and the police take the lead in the investigation which is the right thing to do. I'm not sure where the complaints are coming from."
Regarding last Friday's failed Free Fiji march and the organiser's claim it was due to increased police and military presence, he said:
“I've never heard of that alleged demonstration. Like I said, the Public Emergency Regulations that are in place now would require anyone who wants to hold such public meetings to make an application to the Fiji police force. And if they assess that it was not safe to do so they would not allow the process to go on, instead of trying to saturate the place it would be easier to say that the meeting won't go ahead because of associated risks. But I didn't hear of any demonstration, neither were we involved in trying to saturate the area. Like I said, there's a Public Emergency Regulation in place that doesn't allow for the gathering of the public.”