Over a hundred people, from all ethnic groups, mounted a protest outside parliament at Nasova against the controversial amnesty Bill.
The protesters represented various NGOs who have been actively campaigning against the Government’s decision to forge ahead with the Bill despite widespread condemnation from the people of Fiji.
The peaceful demonstrators, attired in black as a sign of mourning, had tapes gagging their mouths in order to signify the Government’s arrogant stance to ignore the concerns raised by political parties, civil society organisations, and the military.
They carried placards and lined up along Queen Elizabeth Drive to await the Prime Minister who was to table the Bill for its second reading.
A spokesperson for the NGO Coalition on Human Rights said had made a call for all protesters, “Since it’s a Black Thursday, let’s show up in black. Since we were not consulted, let’s wear gags over our mouths, but come with big colourful placards expressing your opposition to the R&U Bill.”
To counter the protest against the Bill, SDL national director Jale Baba also led a group of nationalist SDL supporters, mostly women, right to the gate where the parliament is currently sitting (Nasova).
Policemen manning the gate, unfortunately, showed abhorrent partiality in not only allowing the SDL group to be stationed close to the gate at the site of the temporary parliament, but also gave most of them passes to enter parliament.
In contrast, the peaceful anti-Bill demonstrators were harassed and held up at the entrance on the roadside.
To add to the scene, senior army officers in full uniform tunred up again in the public gallery to demonstrate their total opposition to the Bill.
The atmosphere at parliament was tense and the number of police officers deployed had increased significantly.
FLP’s walkout led by Deputy Leader Hon. Poseci Bune just as the Prime Minister rose to proceed with the second reading of the Bill, took the PM and those present by surprise.