Living In Fear Near Fiji's Parliament
LIVING IN FEAR NEAR FIJI'S PARLIAMENT
29 May 2000: 11.30am
By Sheryl Ho
© USP Journalism Programme
SUVA: As civil unrest and uncertainty continues in what was once a peaceful land, residents living in suburban Nasese surrounding Fiji's Parliament complex are today living in fear.
Since the beginning of the illegal takeover of the elected government on May 19, "strange" people have been sighted along neighbouring streets.
As you walk along streets, gates are padlocked day and night.
When the roadblocks were set up outside the front entrance of the Parliament complex by the police, supporters of rebel leader George Speight immediately looked for the shortest path to the back entrance of Parliament at Vuya Road.
As frightened residents witnessed this last night and locked up their houses, they saw that the protesters marching into town - and who later raided the Fiji Television station - watching their houses.
The residents seemed to be worried that they would be future victims of harassment and break-in.
Since then, police have stepped up patrols in the area.
Also, day and night, cheers and shouts can be heard from Parliament.
Any visitor would clearly see that what was once a beautiful meeting place of Fiji's democratic government has been turned into a "pigsty".
Tents have been erected, pit toilets dug, clothes hanging on the fences along the main entrance and people singing church songs and cheering.
Life goes on for many, and being a day of worship yesterday, churches around Suva were full.
The President, Ratu Sir Kamasese Mara, attended the early morning service at Suva's Sacred Heart Cathedral.
He appeared to have aged a lot since the crisis began as he walked out of church at the end of the service.
In the latest incident to happen, around 9.30pm last night, more than 150 men singing Fijian songs marched along Ratu Sukuna Road enroute to Parliament after terrorising downtown Suva.
They were stopped for a while, which led to more abuse and shouting from the men, and they later proceeded.
A few people living nearby, came out of their houses to see what was happening.
Seconds later, gunshots erupted.
Moments later police vehicles raced up and down the streets to the Parliament complex.
At 10pm, radio FM96 reported the gunshots came from the back entrance of the President's residence.
A policeman had been wounded and later died in hospital.
Today, the neighbourhood family shops remained open as they have for the past 10 days, but the shopkeepers have barricaded themselves in for self-protection.