15 Jul 2003

Poverty in Fiji prompts new attacks on Indians

4:28 pm on 15 July 2003

Increasing poverty in Fiji is the main reason behind the latest attacks against Indian farmers in Tailevu province, home of the coup front man George Speight.

Labour Party MP for the area, Sanjeet Maharej says villagers are attacking farmers for food and crops.

He says the victims are some of the same famlies who fled the Wai-nda-lee-cee area to Fiji's first ever refugee camp at Lautoka after anti-Indian violence at the time of the 2000 coup.

Mr Maharej says many of these farmers were guaranteed safety upon their return.

But he says their lives are jeopardised by Fiji's declining economy.

"the farmers normally have their farms away from their houses, so when they come for lunch, their vegetables are looted, stolen, so these people live in fear. The people are finding it very difficult, to find the food and other things, and it's easy to go to a farm and just pick it up."

Mr Maharej says two Indian families have been physically attacked.

He says the farmers are seeking a meeting with the Minister for Home Affairs.