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Police Say Muaniweni Farmers 'Now Safe'

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Police Say Muaniweni Farmers 'Now Safe'

POLICE SAY MUANIWENI FARMERS 'NOW SAFE'
http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/wansolnews/wansol3008017.html

By TUI MARSEU: August 30, 2001
Wansolwara Online (USP)

SUVA (Pasifik Nius): Police are now confident that Indo-Fijian farmers in the troubled Muaniweni settlement near Suva will be at peace with their neighbours.

"I can look them in the face and say you're safe," Senior Superintendent Romanu Tikotikoca told reporters at today's press conference.

Muaniweni is a farming settlement that is located outside the airport town of Nausori.

Many farmers were forced to flee on the so-called "freedom bus" during last year's political uprising and resettled in a refugee camp at Lautoka's Girmit Center.

"Some of them went through very nasty experiences and cannot believe that some of the indigenous people with whom they were brought up together, went to school together, played together, turned against them on that very day," Tikotikoca said.

Tikotikoca, who is director of community policing, said that "decision making" was a problem then.

"People just went with the current. They didn't examine the reasons as to what they were doing and the intentions behind it," he said.

Five to six families are still at the Girmit Center and although they wish to return, fear of experiencing the same attacks lingers.

Tikotikoca said that 16 police officers were based at the police post in Muaniweni and a unit from the police mobile force was checking on homes.

The farmers were forced out of their homes last year by being terrorised with threats, assaults, ransacking of homes and cattle being stolen.

However, when questioned about figures over last year's looting, Tikotikoca said none were available.

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