Fiji beatings a sign of regime's fear of revolt, says academic

Updated at 6:32 pm on 3 March 2011

An Australian-based Fiji academic says an intensification of military abuses in Fiji has been sparked by fears the revolutionary spirit in the Middle East could spread.

Amnesty International is reporting that at least 10 politicians, trade unionists, government critics and others have been arrested and beaten in the last two weeks.

A group of youths is also reported to have been detained and physically and mentally abused by the military last weekend.

Australian National University Professor Brij Lal says the Fiji authorities are concerned about a proposed demonstration in Suva tomorrow.

But he says the crackdown has also been prompted by the unrest in the Middle East

"Where simple human spirit, when will power was able to triumph over all the tanks and the guns and people of Fiji do watch these programmes and are in communication with their friends outside. So there is this fear that something untoward as far as the military is concerned might happen and they're taking preemptive action to come down on critics."

Brij Lal says detentions and abuses have been going on for a while but people are too afraid to report them.

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