27 Feb 2003

Prominent indigenous Fijians oppose pardons for May 2000 coup plotters

6:41 am on 27 February 2003

Some prominent indigenous Fijians have begun speaking out against any pardon or early release of George Speight and others convicted of the May 2000 coup.

This follows calls by Speight's brother and government MP, Samisoni Tikonisau, for a pardon for Speight, and other calls by released coup convict, Iliesa Duvuloco, for forgiving those involved and forgetting the coup.

A former senior journalist and now businessman, Eparama Turaga, says if Speight's brother and fellow conspirators think all indigenous Fijians are behind these calls they will stir up the silent majority.

Mr Turaga says if Speight carried out his coup for indigenous Fijians, he should be brave enough to face the consequences because other Fijians were brutally murdered as a result of his greedy actions in addition to the immeasurable suffering of the Indo-Fijians.

Mr Turaga says indigenous leaders should bear in mind that the coups of 1987 and 2000 meant that the majority of indigenous Fijians were just the sacrificial lambs for the few privileged fat cats at the top.

And a senior public servant, Director of Immigration, Joseph Browne, says he would be willing to forgive Duvuloco if he dedicated what he called "the rest of his miserable life" to providing food, shelter and education to the children living on the streets as a result of the actions of those like him.

But Mr Browne says Duvuloco "must be crazy" if he thinks the coup can be forgotten.