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Fiji First Day a success, says organiser

Fiji First Day a success, says organiser

Tue, 20 Feb 2001 09:26:58 +1200

PEOPLE'S COALITION GOVERNMENT, FIJI Issue No: 496 20 February 2001

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Fiji First Day a success, says organiser

The organiser of the Fiji First Day, Mick Beddoes has told the media that the call for people to stay home and pray was a success.

Beddoes said that despite the intimidation from the Commissioner of Police, the Public Service Commission, and two daily newspapers, a lot of people heeded his call and stayed home.

Media reports that primary schools recorded on average only 50% turnout, with some schools recording as low as 30%. Secondary schools featured better because yesterday was the enrolment day for 7th form students. All NGO's, except Fiji Council of Social Services, were closed. Classes at the University of the South Pacific also did not take place as normal.

Businesses, however, were open yesterday in areas outside Suva. The business community has endorsed the regime's plans and heeded the calls by the regime to not to participate in the Fiji First Day. Many businesses reported harassment and threats by police and the military.

But media reports that business was low in most areas, with people staying away from towns. Many shops reportedly had very few customers. One shopkeeper stated that he lost more money by opening his shop than he would have if he kept closed. "But I had to be part of the group, or else, you know how our community is?" he stated, apparently referring to being ostracised by the Gujarati business community.

Beddoes, who almost single-handedly led the campaign, is a successful businessman himself. Since 19 May he has been at the forefront of the move to get democracy re-established in Fiji. He is quoted by the Fiji Sun as saying: "For the past nine months the law abiding citizens have been subjected to intimidation, threats of violence, bloodshed, and basically being relegated to third class citizens in the country of their birth. We have been able to do with out protest with prayer day is to send out a clear message to those in authority, that the silent majority will not remain silent for much longer".


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