February 25, 2011

Sam Speight recovering in Australia and speaks out: Radio Australia

Fiji politician recovering in Australia after alleged army beating
Updated February 25, 2011 17:34:45

A former Fiji politician, Samisoni Speight Tikonisau, has just been released from hospital in Brisane, where he was recovering from what he claims was a beating at the hands of Fiji soldiers.

He says he was working at the headquarters of the SDL Party of deposed prime minister Laisenia Qarase on Wednesday night when army officers in civilian clothes arrived and took him to the Queen Elizabeth barracks.

He says he was kicked and beaten with rifle butts.

His family arranged for him to be flown to Australia for medical treatment as soon as he was allowed to leave the barracks.

Mr Tikonisau is now back with his family in Brisbane.

Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Samisoni Speight Tikonisau, Former Fiji politician

Listen here.

TIKONISAU: Yeah, I think Bruce there's a dvd that was prepared in Australia by the freedom community in Australia who are in the struggle for the return of democracy to Fiji and they've prepared a documentary in the Fijian language on certain important issues that were happening in Fiji prior to the coup 2006 and our information giving it a true state of the country economically and so forth. This was on this particular dvd which was sent to us in December, and which was circulated to supporters of the SDL party in the rural areas.

HILL: So your suggesting that the military got wind of this distribution of this dvd which had been prepared in Australia and they were trying to find out who was distributing it?

TIKONISAU: Yes, that is basically it Bruce, yeah.

HILL: Did they give you any reason for the beating, did they say anything to you while they were doing this?

TIKONISAU: Well, the contents of the dvd was the thing that they were very angry about, because sort of anti-regime and they exposed a lot of truths leading up to the coup in 2006. As you know, the leaders of the coup in 2006 were accusing the government of the day of corruption and various other things and so I think the disk exposed material that was contrary to that, yeah.

HILL: Well, I have to ask this question, you're a former politician yourself. Your active in the SDL, the party which was deposed in the coup. You've got a vested interest in painting the current government in as negative a light as possible. How can we know that this beating did take place and that you're not perhaps exaggerating what happened?

TIKONISAU: Yeah, that's a good question, because I was the only person taken from the office that evening on Monday the 21st and for two nights and two days, there was total blackout. No one knew what was my fate, only just the SDL party members and family. I was held there from Monday night through to Tuesday, then Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, about three in the morning when this incident occurred where they took me from the cell, got me to crawl and into the interrogating room and tactics were used to kind of extract information further regarding the disk.

HILL: Now how did you manage to get to Australia immediately after you were beaten?

TIKONISAU: Yeah, surprising thing Bruce, I really didn't expect to be released, because I just told them yes, I received this material from Australia, and distributed it. And the reasons are that I felt that the people needed to know some truths, the other side to the story and to give them an informed judgement of really what happened in Fiji during the coup 2006. My release late Wednesday night, about 10.30pm came as a surprise, so I came out of there and I walked out and made my way to the main hospital in Suva to try and get some treatment and then the family were just so concerned, they said no, no we've got to try and get you out of here and make arrangements made here in Australia from family to get me out so I just made by way to Nadi and thankfully I managed to get onto the plane.

HILL: And what are the extent of your injuries?

TIKONISAU: Well, basically bruising to the face and all that and swelling on my head and on sprained fingers which they tried to sort of bend back to get information, use of the pain and overall body aches and all of that, yeah.

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