IN THIS EDITION - FIJI COUP SPECIAL #2: Is Speight Seeking To Create Martyrs? - Fiji Gunmen Hold Prayer Meeting Then Shoot A Policeman - George Speight Offends Against A Higher Order
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Sludge Report #8
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Is Speight Seeking To Create Martyrs?
Fiji Gunmen Hold Prayer Meeting Then Shoot A Policeman
C.D. Sludge notes that since Friday, when the army took up positions around Parliament the gunmen holding the Fijian Parliament led by George Speight have commenced what can be seen as second phase in the game-plan of their attempted coup.
Twice roving gangs of civilians, backed up be gunmen ,have taken the coup outside of the Parliamentary complex.
On Saturday an organised - hyped-up - mob was sent to tackle a checkpoint. It had an armed escort of professional killers. In the end a journalist and two soldiers ended up getting shot.
Last night a mob was sent to deal to Fiji TV after the station screened a current affairs program quoting an MP who had been prominent in the Chaudhry Government, Mr Jone Takuvula, saying Mr Speight was "a two-bit wonder".
In this incident there were two fatalities. A policeman was shot in the back while he was in his car and a security guard died of a heart attack as he ran away from the angry mob.
Both these instances of violence can be characterised by their recklessness. In both cases the army faced an armed and shooting rampaging mob.
It is a testament to the restraint of the Fiji army and police that on neither occasion did the army respond in kind and end up killing a few members of the mob.
Indeed in both cases it is in fact probably reasonable to surmise that the intention of whomever it was that sent the mobs out on their missions was for the army to fire on them.
During the checkpoint incident on Saturday it is little short of a miracle that automatic gunfire from the rebel gunmen among the mob did not result in return fire from the soldiers and casualties among the mob.
Speight then held a prayer service.
Later that night in the Christian Festival of Easter it happened again. Druken young men sent out in the night almost to certain death.
Today Speight’s spokesman says Speight was in a meeting and so did not know of the plan to attack Fiji TV. Yet his guards took journalists captive and confiscated cellphones during the raid to prevent their being a warning.
Again the mob was accompanied by armed killers who shot at night killing a policeman in the back as he fled presumably.
Why would George Speight want to get some of his supporters killed?
The answer is obvious, because he wants some martyrs. Both to steel the resolve of his supporters in the compound and in order to inflame the situation more widely throughout Fiji.
In short he is trying to start a war.
George Speight Offends Against A Higher Order
On Rogation Sunday yesterday George Speight and his gunmen held a prayer meeting in the Parliamentary compound. Fiji is a devout country and this was a clever PR exercise.
However it is also one which could very easily lead to his downfall.
It is not necessary for a killer to have blood on his hands personally in order for him to be held responsible for a death.
In the public mind Speight may as well have shot the police officer himself. To do so on a Sunday night – while praying women protected journalists in the compound – is an offence of a whole new magnitude. To the police and the army he has killed one of their own – in a cowardly manner, on a Sunday. He can kiss goodbye any sympathy now.
To hold a prayer meeting and to then send off a mob on a mission which will almost certainly result in death is an affront to everything that Christianity stands for.
George Speight and his gunmen now have a clear PR problem. Namely, they look to everybody with their eyes open like lying murderers.
While in their rhetoric they claim to be taking extreme actions in expression of legitimate political aspirations. Their actions tell a different story entirely.
This contradiction has always been obvious to external observers.
The significance of yesterday's shooting of a police officer in the back is that the duplicity of Speight and his gunmen will now most probably be even apparent even to George Speight's most ardent theoretical supporters.
The media have apparently decided they no longer to run the risk of inhabiting his compound. And one New Zealand photographer has shown extraordinary bravery in seeking the release of his reporter from custody in the Parliamentary compound.
Most importantly even to the tanked up young men in the compound – the human shields with sticks – even they must now be able to discern a pattern.
While it is easy to get carried away in an apparent expression of your political views it is quite another to become a party to a murder – especially of a policeman and especially if you are a Christian. And it is another again to be offered up as someone else's martyr, someone who doesn't even own up to being responsible for your actions. If they weren't under his orders then are they covered by the planned pardon from the Governor General?
On Saturday Speight blamed the soldiers on the checkpoints for risking the lives of his supporters by having guns. Today the Police have handed control of the streets to the army. The next mob will face armed soldiers knowing there are killers sheltering among the human shields with sticks.
Meanwhile last nights events mean that for many Fijians this coup is now already over.
Pardon or no pardon, new government or old government, George Speight is now due to be called to answer to a higher authority.
The Sludge Report #8 - compiled by C.D. Sludge - Monday, 29 May 2000
© Sludge 2000