World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Fiji coup - caught in the crossfire

See updates and new pictures:

by Joe Yaya and Harry Aurere
USP journalism programme

* Yaya, a first-year student journalist from Fiji, and Aurere, from Papua New Guinea, report on how they got caught in crossfire at the besieged Parliament in Fiji's armed insurrection.

SUVA: We left the University of the South Pacific newsroom at 5.30 pm last night on our newspaper Wansolwara's next round-the clock shift covering the attempted coup - and flagged a taxi down at the main road. We told the driver to take us to Parliament.

At the first checkpoint, we were told by the police that they had just received an order not to allow any more journalists within a 100 metre radius of the parliament complex. We found out later that the order came from the President, Ratu Sir Kamiese Mara, who is concerned about the safety of both local and overseas journalists.

We pleaded with the police officers at the first checkpoint to let us through because we wanted to be in time for the 6 pm press conference. They refused and ordered the taxi driver to drive ahead to the second checkpoint, reverse the car and leave.

At the second checkpoint, we managed to convince police to let us through and we arrived at the back entrance of Parliament House at about 5.55 pm.

At that very moment, the gates opened and a man walked out shouting: "All media...all media...gather here please."

As we gathered around him, he issued us copies of a press release with the heading: TAUKEI CIVILIAN GOVERNMENT - Press Release No. 1. He then said: "Follow me to the gate please."

Upon reaching the gate, shots were fired from our right and we hit the ground for cover. A four-wheel drive vehicle sped from outside the gate and parked in front of it. By now, five men armed with M16 guns were in position from inside the gate defending it, while the rebel soldier who was escorting us took cover behind the vehicle parked in front of the gate.

About five minutes later, the rebel soldier behind the vehicle said: "Move in one by one to the gate guard house."

At the gate guard house, still in a crawling position, we had to show our ID cards to two men inside. Five minutes later, the man escorting us said: "OK everybody, up and walk in a single file."

We got up and walked in a single file to a shelter inside the Parliament complex.

Here, we were met by another man who introduced himself as Vilimoni. He welcomed us saying: "I apologise to you ladies and gentlemen for the inconvenience at the gate."

He then said: "I am the commander of security," and told us to wait for further instructions.

About 30 minutes later, self proclaimed prime minister George Speight walked up to where we were and the press conference began.

After we were escorted back outside, we met University of the South Pacific science lecturer Timoci Gaunavinaka who told us that he saw six soldiers in full military uniform at about 5.30 pm, carrying M16 guns at one of the checkpoints near parliament house.

Both coup leader George Speight and Fiji military forces commander Frank Bainimarama have denied that the shots were fired by them in today's Fiji Times.

This is the first incident where gun shots were fired since Friday morning, when civilian coup leader George Speight walked in to Parliament and took hostage members of the Fiji Labour Party-led coalition.


This document is for educational and research use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source before reprinting. PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific. Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius:

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Bidding Bye Bye To Boris

Boris Johnson’s exit from the contest for Conservative Party leadership supports the conspiracy theory that he never really expected the “Leave” option to win the referendum – and he has no intention now of picking up the poisoned chalice that managing the outcome will entail... More>>


Mexico: Violence And Repression Of Teachers

The member organizations of Network for Peace express our indignation over the acts of repression that the Mexican State has carried out, through the police forces... In Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca, the conflict has resulted in murders of teachers and civilians as well as hundreds of wounded and dozens of people arrested. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Britain's Pleas For Mercy

So… Boris Johnson is promising that he won't be holding a snap general election, if he's chosen as the next UK Conservative Party leader. Reportedly, he is even making that promise a feature of his leadership campaign, since a vote for Boris would therefore mean (wink wink) that his colleagues wouldn't have to risk their jobs and face the wrath of the British public until 2020. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news