February 26, 2007

Blood on their hands

Interim Labour Minister Bernadette Rounds-Ganilau has said she is “devastated” at the death of a 19-year-old youth who was assaulted by soldiers and who she visited while he was in hospital.

In a message to youth activist Peter Waqavonovono, who has been campaigning against military human rights violations and who was himself assaulted by soldiers on Christmas Eve, Rounds-Ganilau said Sakiusa Rabaka’s death should not have happened.

“I truly am sorry, in fact I'm devastated. It shouldn't have happened and this cannot happen again,” said Rounds-Ganilau. She said interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum would make a statement on the death on behalf of the interim government.

Waqavonovono told Intelligentsiya in an email today that he has been “bombarding” Rounds-Ganilau and interim Youth Minister Adi Laufitu Malani with “requests to do something” about the continued abuse of human rights by the military.

“Human rights abuses must stop,” Waqavonovono said. “Most citizens taken into military custody are youths and youths are the vulnerable members of society. And during these times youths should be consulted and not abused and humiliated.”

“I consider Sakuisa a hero. And for generations to come he will be remembered
for what he went through and how he followed through till the very end. I have been touched by his story right from the start. When we visited him in the hospital, I thought that he was in a bad shape, but he had a strong will.”

Sakiusa’s story was first reported on Intelligentsiya. He was arrested by six soldiers and a policeman on January 28 for what the police said was possession of marijuana and taken to the army barracks in Nadi where they were made to strip naked, carry heavy sacks and run up a hill. All the while they were being beaten.

Sakiusa returned home early the next morning badly injured and later in the week started developing headaches. He was taken to Nadi hospital, then Lautoka and then to Suva’s Colonial War Memorial Hospital where he underwent brain surgery.

He returned to Nadi last week after he was discharged. But on Saturday he collapsed while with friends and was taken to Nadi hospital where he died. His death was also first reported on Intelligentsiya late on Saturday night.

Sakiusa’s mother, Alanieta, before his death and during his admission in hospital that he was “at the wrong place at the wrong time” and was about to start a course in hospitality studies.

“Yet another murder…the killing continues,” somebody wrote in a comment on Intelligentsiya. “No prizes (for) what Berandette will now say when ‘sorry’ was all she could manage when responding to the senseless beatings this young man endured at the hands of RFMF rogue thugs who dare still call themselves soldiers.

And finally, from a poster claiming to be Sakiusa’s brother: “Thank you for sharing my brother's story. We his family around the world are able to know the loss of our beloved brother. I hope that the citizens of Fiji will come out and share their stories (so) that it may end the exploitation of human rights and bullying tactics by the military.”

Sakiusa’s death brings to two (publicly acknowledged) the number of people who have died at the hands of military personnel.

Nimilote Verebasaga of Nakaulevu Village in Nakelo, Tailevu was delivered dead to the army hospital at Queen Elizabeth Barracks in January after being badly assaulted.


Anonymous said...

In all my years growing up in Fiji, I have heard of such stories happening elsewhere.... stories of people being taken by military personnel, authorities and tortured and treated inhumanely. We see it in movies, we see it in the world news, we see it in the international arena,.... but truly and honestly, I have never thought that I would be living in a country where such circumstances would prevail. What has our beautiful country come to? Is this the same Fiji that promotes itself as many cultures in one nation? A people once united has become divided. No longer can we turn to the proper authorities for protection for they are the vey ones from whom we now live in fear. This only exemplifies how dangerous the situation in our beloved country is. Fiji, beautiful Fiji, where have you gone?

Anonymous said...

It is now time for people like Big Mumma, Shaista (or is it SHYSTER), and those others that lick V.Bs boots and arse, to get some balls and stand up to this tyrant and his band of thugs. This the third death in which the Military have been implicated.
To say now "I truly am sorry, in fact I'm devistated. It shouldn't have happened and this cannot happen again" are pretty hollow words. What needs to happen is for this self serving, self preserving, egotsitcal bunch of lard heads (read Interum Govt & Co) to tell V.B. to get back to his play pen with his little band of soldiers and stop behaving like bullies in the school compound.
If he fails to do this and they have ounce of decency between them in those greedy bodies if theirs, and they want to help Fiji, then all resign on mass.
I know that this is drastic but something of this magnitude may be the only thing that will bring this tyrant and his cronies down. The rule of law does not seem to be working.

Anonymous said...

Nothing we say or do can ever bring back to this family what they have tragically lost. The question for the military is why they are condoning these acts. roque elements they may say but still under control and command of the Commadore....he cannot distance himself from this brutality because he was not physically there because someone gave these tactical operational orders and someone must be accountable. I hope that those soldiers who are responsible do the honourable thing and resign their commission, speak the truth and take the consequences like a man........rumour has it that this "Bashing Group" is a minority in each camp and the majority so not condone it........I say it is time for them to do a "Clean up" campaign in their own backyard.

To Sakiusa's family, God bless you and comfort you in this time of sorrow.

To the perpetrators, may God Almighty deal with you as only he may.

Anonymous said...

It's probably time for a foreign invasion to get rid of this Interim Government and the Army once and for all and instal an independent civilian government. We have had enough of these lies and deceit. They pick on the Qarase Government but fail to look at their own bigger failures.

Anonymous said...

we can see in our beloved countries untold horrors that only Iraq, Cuba, Afghanistan was known for. Its a sadder day though when we just stand by and let this poople die for nothing. We must speak out for this is seems is the only rights we have left. Speak out against the injustices carried out by the greedy few who HIDE behind weapons.

Anonymous said...

This is so sad. What a tragedy.
The soldiers on the ground are getting bolder. With each passing day, they loose that human compassion that would stop them from hurting others.
The day will come when they will not think twice of killing senselessly - no one will be safe then, not even women or children.
The Commander has to put a stop to this now. Tomorrow will be too late to prevent a civil war.

Anonymous said...

Only God can comfort the rabaka family and heal the wounds that the MILITARY has inflicted...may God deal with them ever so severly, through their children, grandchildren, and grand grandchildren....only you will begin to see the destruction that you have spun...Sa turu tu na wai ni mata nei viti

Anonymous said...

The saddest thing that has come out of this issue is the fact that the love of mum for her child blinds her totally from the wrong that he had done. While saying this it is unfortunate that her child[A teenage marijuana dealer in Nadi-well known fact amongst the smokers at Votualevu including his cousins]Sakiusa Rabuka(not Rabaka),died from injuries he allegedly recieved from the Army.The teenage dealer's history of asthma was never highlighted in any media reports,neither was the effects the marijuana had on those teenagers in Votualevu who have been addicted to the stuff ,many of whom have contributed to the number of crimes in the area. The point that your column is driving at is valid;but people need to know that Sakiusa is not a hero as depicted by Waqavonovono,he may be a hero to human rights activist but a villain to Anti-Marijuana activists like us.Thank you.

nomorecoups said...

Received via Email
the tall,beautiful n bold
On behalf of the Edwards family, i'd like to send my condolences to the family and friends of "Rabaka".
Rabaka,you definitely are one on the most funniest and awesome guys i was eva blessed to hav known and even thou you arnt wit hia us physically we know that your soul will live amongst us for eva boy!
remembering those days on Kama'ls bus and when we would meet up in random places you'd just put on that lovely smile yep!
boy i can still see that full set of teeth,today.
We spent short days together but everyday i'd cherish till i meet you again,RABAKA
will luv you forever as a frend and as a brother........

your frend

Anonymous said...

i think what Peter and his group is doing is awesome.

keep up the good work. and i agree with peter, this time will live or internity and this death should spark and mindset that will bring ppl. to see that violence cant bring change and the violence in fiji must stop.

Liberty said...

To the Anti-Marijuana Activist:

Whether Sakiusa was a dealer or a smoker is IRRELEVANT, there is NO JUSTIFICATION for the senseless beatings this young man endured, defenceless against a mob of thugs, trained to kill. If Sakiusa was a well-known marijuana dealer as you have alleged, then why didn't you, as an anti-marijuana activist report or alert the police way back then to allow at least an investigation into your complaint. There is something that is called DUE PROCESS in our justice system and our Constitution guarantees that right to Sakiusa as well as to any person suspected of wrongdoing, no matter how scarlet their 'sins', they are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law!

And so what if Sakiusa was asthmatic? Are you suggesting for a moment that he may have died of asthma when the photographs revealing extensive external injuries & trauma speaks for itself! And what of the internal injuries that will be listed in the post mortem! Sakiusa's mother was justified in saying in so many words that the military was responsible for the death of her son.

Anonymous said...


I dont care if the rabaka boy was a theif, drunken or a no good drug pusher...No one has the right to bash up another causing death...

If you ask me probably frank bainimarama and his bitches probably posted that comment to try and win favour...No true blooded Fijian would write such unemtional sentiments...

No matter what his condition was medically, if the military hadnt given him a hiding he would be alive!!! ITS THE MILITARYS FAULT SO LETS NOT TRY AND DETRACT BY SAYING HE WAS SICKLY

wondering said...

A question:

In the same way that those who die in conflicts around the world become martyrs, is Sakiusa now a martyr of sorts? If so, will this become a rallying point for revolutionaries/democratists?

Anonymous said...

TO Bainimarama & co. you cold blodd murderes....you butcheres... idiots..sense less people! don't you know that us Fijians the most important thing to us is blood! and somehow we are all related through blood and most of our blood relatives are there in the Amry.... and it is very hurtful how you guys can stand and see your own relatives being intimidated, treated like animals...sexually abused and many more....yet you see it as if ain't anything is happening.. you trn your back and go! making excuses such as Bread & Butter issue is bull shit! coz if you really feel for your own blood, you will stand up and do something aboutit or immediately resign from the force since you can't stand the brutuality of your own people in front of you....but if you can't then you're a very cold hearted person! to all soldiers it is better for you to withdraw your name from the Vola ni kawa bula!

Semi Meo said...

Please allow me to offer my personal condolence and prayers to the parents,family and friends of the late Sakiusa Rabaka. Eulogies and accolades afforded to the late young man more summaries the norm of exuberance of life and adventure Fiji’s late teens and “twenteens” are known for. We parents who have children of relatively the same age as this fine youngman may be able to sympathise with the Rabakas. His very very brutal death is regretted by all of us. Thankfully, the Law will hunt and deal with all who are alleged to be part of this very inhuman and un-Fijian act of cowardice. Many of us who may not have met the late Rabaka are grateful to his parents and family for sharing with us treasured remnants of his adventurous young life; a typical Fijian young man striving to explore the many paths before him. Rabaka's untimely death have jolted many of us to turn our hearts towards home and at least appreciate the struggles and even desperation of typical youngman like this good lad we have lost. That will be a lasting monument we can built in remembrance of Sakiusa Rabaka.

Anonymous said...

thank you so much peter for all the hard work. rabaka is getting justice now

Anonymous said...

vinaka sara va levu vei pita kei na soqosoqo ni tabagone na ypcn.