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Amnesty International Plea For Release Of Captives

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PLEA FOR RELEASE OF CAPTIVES
21 May 2000: 0200 gmt
Amnesty International


LONDON: Amnesty International is increasingly concerned for the life and health of the victims of fundamental human rights abuses in Fiji's parliament complex and reiterates its calls for their immediate and unconditional release.

Minutes ago, the organization received a message from the Fiji Human Rights Commission, while preparing an update on its own worldwide "Urgent Action" appeal of Friday.

At the time of writing, the organization's concern for the victims of the Fiji hostage drama has heightened.

While noting with relief the conditional release of some hostages, Amnesty International continues its call for the unconditional and immediate release of everyone deprived of his or her liberty in the Fiji Parliament complex.

"We are particularly concerned about reports that the gunmen blocked access for ambulances to parliament after Prime Minister Chaudhry had collapsed from exhaustion and was apparently suffering from leg injuries, " Amnesty International's Australia-Pacific Researcher, Heinz Schurmann-Zeggel said from the organization's International Secretariat in London. "Within the past few hours, a Red Cross representative has also been refused entry."

"Fijian media reports about the treatment and humiliation of some of the hostages, including the Prime Minister and his son Rajendra Chaudhry, appear to confirm our initial concerns that the hostages may be at risk of ill-treatment," he added.

"We reiterate our appeal to the international community, particularly the governments and leadership of the Commonwealth and the European Union, to take immediate steps to help ensure the safety, health and speedy release of all the hostages."

Amnesty International staff and volunteers in 3 continents have been campaigning around the clock on behalf of the Fiji hostages since being alerted to the situation by messages from Suva and Wellington on Friday morning local time.

For further information, or to arrange an interview, please contact Amnesty International press officers in Sydney, Australia, on mobile 0413 928 191, or Wellington, +64 21 37 12 05.

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