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Internal Refugees Threaten, Abuse Fiji Times

Internal Refugees Threaten, Abuse Fiji Times News Team

SUVA: A Fiji Times vehicle was hit by an object after being threatened with stones, and a reporter and photographer were sworn at by an official and people sheltering at a Fiji Islands internal refugee camp at the western town of Lautoka, the Fiji Times reports.

The incident has been reported and police are investigating.

About 340 live at the Girmit Centre refugee camp, mainly Indo-Fijian families who fled in June from a wave of victimisation and assaults by indigenous Fijians from the Muaniweni village area near the capital of Suva.

They were the first internal refugees caused by the seizure of Parliament on May 19 and the holding of the elected government hostage for 56 days by failed businessman George Speight and his rebels.

According to the Fiji Times report on 14 September 2000, the news team had stopped outside the camp fence.

Photographer Jai Prasad had taken some pictures from the outside when camp manager Anit Singh walked towards the fence and swore at Prasad.

When the reporter, unnamed by the newspaper, got out to question Singh, the manager started swearing at both men, saying the Fiji Times could not take pictures and could not invade their privacy.

Singh was told he had no right to stop any photographs being taken from the outside.

The manager's continued swearing angered the reporter who picked up a cane stick and told Singh not to use abusive language, said the newspaper.

A group of seven other men from the camp joined the manager and picked up stones, threatening to throw them at the news team.

As the Fiji Times vehicle pulled away, an object hit the car.

* Organisers of the refugee centre also refused to allow two indigenous Fijian volunteer staff members from the Fiji Red Cross to enter the camp.

+++niuswire

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