Shocking revelations were made at the proceedings of the court martial hearing in the army mutiny case of the active role senior officers of the Fiji Military Forces played in the overthrow of the People’s Coalition Government and in the dissemination of propaganda to discredit it in the eyes of the indigenous people.
Soldiers charged with the mutiny gave testimony naming three senior army officers, among them Lt.Col Filipo Tarakinikini, of having prior knowledge of the coup and of ordering weapons from FMF armoury to be made available to the terrorists in Parliament. (Press cuttings attached)
Not only this, Sergeant Jone Naisara said he had audio and video evidence that the army had fabricated a document known as “Little India” to discredit the Mahendra Chaudhry government. “…the document created by RFMF members was then disseminated mainly among political parties aimed at creating fear and anger among the people”.
The document had apparently “outlined” the Chaudhry Government’s intention of increasing the influence of India in Fiji to the extent that it would become a little India. This propaganda was widely used by George Speight and his rebels to arouse indigenous emotions against the Prime Minister and to justify the coup. He claimed it was taken from Chaudhry’s files in parliament. Although Chaudhry and the Labour Party had denied the existence of any such documents or plans the stigma had stayed.
It is shocking that the army would play so active a role in the overthrow of a government. Not only did it sanction the use of FMF weapons to enable an armed attack on Parliament, it also helped concoct and disseminate disinformation to discredit Prime Minister Chaudhry in the eyes of the indigenous people.
In light of these disclosures, the Fiji Labour Party re-iterates its call for the government to institute a full and independent inquiry into the 19 May 2000 takeover of Parliament. It also calls on all civil society institutions that value the principles of democracy and peace to support this call.
In a statement today, the party said: It is absolutely shocking to be told that the army colluded with George Speight’s group in fabricating the “Little India” document to discredit Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and to incite the anger of the indigenous people against him.
How much more damning can evidence of the army’s involvement in the coup be?
It is absolutely clear that the Fiji army, indeed the entire security force because elements in the Police are equally implicated, cannot be trusted to ensure national peace and security when they themselves instigate the overthrow of democratically elected governments and threaten peace and order in the country.
This is the third time the Fiji army has instigated a coup in Fiji making it the most serious threat to democracy and to any elected government that does not enjoy its support and favour.
It is the army that abrogated the 1997 Constitution and removed President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara from office. Ratu Mara in a TV interview had accused both the Army Commander and the Police Commissioner of getting rid of him.
The Governments of Australia, Britain and the United States who have on-going military co-operation programmes with the Fiji Military Forces should take cognisance of the vast array of information that has surfaced making the army complicit in the coup.
They can no longer be oblivious to the fact that they are helping give greater sophistication and training to forces of terrorism and destabilisation in Fiji.
What we see here now is the emergence of a power bloc or troika comprising the army, politicians and certain corrupt elements from the private sector similar to those operating in certain countries of South East Asia.
To nip such dangerous developments, one needs to get to the bottom of all those who planned, financed and executed the 2000 coup and to punish them. For this, it is imperative that a full public inquiry be instituted to establish the truth.
Revelations made at the court martial hearing further confirm the statement made by Lt. Col Viliame Seruvakula, prior to his departure from Fiji,. implicating senior army officers, certain Fijian chiefs, politicians and businessmen among others in the May 2000 coup.
We must act now to unmask the real elements behind the coup. If we do not, this coup culture will continue and Fiji will simply become another Africa.
The real victims of continuing political turmoil will be the common people as poverty, unemployment and the break down of law and order become endemic to our society.