1 Aug 2007

Hopes Fiji trade unionist taken in by military, then handed over to police, is about to be released

7:19 pm on 1 August 2007

A Fiji trade unionist organising strikes by three public sector unions, who has been questioned throughout today by the military and then the police, is expected to be released shortly.

Taniela Tabu was taken by soldiers from his home at daybreak today and held by the army.

Mr Tabu was transferred to police custody during the day in what the military spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, described as a joint military - police operation.

A police spokesman says Mr Tabu is being questioned and a decision will be made tomorrow on what charges will be laid.

The trade unionist, who is general secretary of the Viti National Union of Taukei Workers, had called for the sacking of the interim finance minister, Mahendra Chaudhry.

Mr Tabu said Mr Chaudhry was the cause of all the problems which have led three public sector unions to call a strike from tomorrow.

The general secretary of the Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions, Attar Singh, says it is sad that Mr Tabu has been taken into custody just a day before his union members go on strike.

Mr Tabu's union is an affiliate of the Council.

The executive director of the Citizens Constitutional Forum, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says Mr Tabu's arrest is a breach of human rights.