Come Clean, Ratu Tevita: Who Really Assaulted the Women?

The headlined accusation "Bainimarama Beats Women" is the latest statement by Ratu Tevita that has been reported, on trust, by the international media.  

He promised us that all would be revealed over time but for the moment he is releasing one  small story after another that keep the media in titivation mode.

ratu tevita head beretFirst came the  release in which he said he was rescued on a fishing trip that went wrong and he'd fled because he wouldn't receive a fair trial.  This was followed by the statement that Banimarama laughed at the idea of elections, and that no elections would be held in 2014. We then heard that Bainimarama was taking his orders from Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, a view earlier reported by the blog Coup4.5. 

He then accused Bainimarama and Sayed-Khaiyum of corruption and said Bainimarama's salary, paid by Khaiyum's aunt’s accountancy firm, was $700,000 a year. Much of this story was also earlier reported by the blog.

This was followed by general accusations of torture that he said he witnessed, and for which he now apologised, but in which he played no part. He said a small "hit squad" carried out the torture, presumably on Bainimarama's orders. But he was the Commanding Officer.

And now he claims Bainimarama hit three "pro-democracy" women — Visili Buadromo, Jackie Koroi and Laisa Digitaki — at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks just before Christmas in 2006. He says that Bainimarama's son was the other officer who hit the women, and made the point that Bainimarama only hit women; he never saw him hit men.

Coup 4.5,  Michael Field and others have now taken up the "Bainimarama Hits Women" story.   I have little doubt that the general outline of the story is correct. The Coup had only just taken place. The situation was unstable, and there was active opposition from a small group of "pro-democracy" activists, including the three women, that was enthusiastically reported by the local and international media. The military was unsure of its position and sought to silence opposition by intimidation. Not nice, but over-reaction is not unknown even in democracies, when the established order is unsure of itself. 

But here the details become hazy. Ratu Tevita says people had always thought it was Pita Driti (charged this month for sedition together with Ratu Tevita) who beat the women. But he was there and saw what happened. It was  not Driti, he said, but Bainimarama, dressed in brown overalls with no military insignia, who started the attack, joined by his  son.
He said it was dark and all that could be seen were silhouettes. 

But afterwards, not one of the women mentioned Bainimarama or his son. They maintained it was two other officers, Pita Driti and Ratu Tevita.  

Laisa Digitaki said she recognized Driti's voice, and both she and Visilia Buadromo told Human Rights Watch, probably the world’s leading independent organization dedicated to defending and protecting human rights, that they were assaulted by Driti—and Ratu Tevita Mara.

This leaves one wondering. 

Why, only now 4½ years after the incident, do we hear Bainimarama's name mentioned for the first time? Apart from the obvious purpose of smearing Bainimarama, is it possible that Ratu Tevita is also trying to cover up his part and Driti's part  in the assault?  These are the sorts of questions the media should be asking him before they take his word on trust.

They should be asking how he has so much knowledge on so wide a range of topics.  I doubt he can have witnessed all,  and
his statements can be no more reliable than his sources, which —other than Coup 4.5— he has not revealed.  The media should ask him about  his sources.

They should also ask what's happened to the documents he said he brought with him on the boat to Tonga that he said would prove what he said.  Did he show them to Barbara Dreaver when she interviewed him soon after his arrival in the old British Residence’s house in Nuku'alofa?   Did she ask to see them?  Has anyone seen them? Has anyone  thought of asking to see them? 

He now says he's  thinking of making a statement to the UN  about human rights abuses in Fiji. For this he will have to rely on  more than the prompting of Coup 4.5. He will need the documents.  

Otherwise, on this issue at least,  it will be his word against those of the women who said he assaulted them— and not Bainimarama.


Anonymous said…
Well one thing for sure is very very obvious - this man was clearly Franks right hand man a some point in time. They both spew rubbish and expect us to beleive it. This is all just as much rubbish as the PM claims he was forced to undertake the coup and that it is all just the presidents mandate.
sara'ssista said…
I generally give credit where credit is due, but this is a rather disgusting example again of shooting the messenger even when the victims themselves are now prepared to identify those who attacked them and gave the orders. There is a very sound reason why it doesn't pay to point out the perpetrators. I am sorry that this is not what you are wanting to hear Croz and you seem to go to rather disturbing lengths in your 'commentary' to make excuses and create 'another perspective'. These were unarmed and non-violent activists, and some were women.
Anonymous said…
If it was Ratu Mara then it is also Franks responsibility - did he take action at the time or anytime afterwards ? No he did not. He fully supported it.

And Croz the uncertainity you talk about was only because of the coup which was only because of the military. This was not 2000. This was military thugs with the full support of command removing a elected government. You seem to always forget that. And they have pardoned themselves for those actions yet they want us to beleive they beleive in democracy and the rule of law. I say only when it suits them !
Lesley said…
“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”
Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”
Mark Twain (1835 – 1910)

Very interesting indeed. The truth, whatever it is, will surface in the end. Let us hope that the mainstream media will now report the truth.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Sara'ssista .., You shouldn'y downgrade Rt T's role to a messager. And I don't expect him to name people who could be questioned by the Govt. I asked him for evidence, some of which must surely be in the documents he said he had, but has not mentioned since. I also asked that the media do its job, by going further than repeating what Rt T claims to have taken place. I didn'y need to go to "disturbing lengths. Two of the three women said it was Driti and Rt T -- and not Bainimaramaq, as he claims. Even Pita W does not name Bainimarama. See today's RadioNZ itrem.
Savua - a lesser order of humanity said…
Why was Michael Field not busying himself earlier (eleven years ago) with the glaring failure to charge former Police Commissioner Isikia Savua with terrorism? Anyone who had met with the Internally Displaced Persons in Fiji that year(only three days later in the Western Division) would know that acts of terrorism were perpetrated at Muaniweni on 19 May 2000. Precisely WHY was Isikia Savua allowed to die in a bed like any ordinary mortal? He will doubtless require the concerted assistance of the Archangel Michael to save his immortal soul from eternal torment for what he and his accumulation of thuggish Police and Military achieved: the burning down of homes, the slaughtering of cattle, the terrorising of women and children who were innocent civilians: some, still mercifully live to tell their tale. Justice is now being served in the Next World: it was utterly absent in this! Our affidavits remain as testimony and bear witness to what he achieved in life: a signal example of brutish and dishonourable conduct worthy of a lesser order of humanity.
pasifika said…
RT will soon run out of made up stories and all that will be left is an empty vessel which he is. He rose rapidly through the ranks thanks to his illustrious father's name and now he's biting the hand that pushed him up.The lesson being- promotion should only be on merit.
Islands in the Stream said…
If any of these Fiji based NGOs were up to speed they would have long ago ensured that former Police Commissioner Savua and former Director of Public Prosecutions Naigulevu were brought to full account for alleged Dereliction of Duty and Abuse of Office . "Shuffling off this mortal coil" in comfort is not to be an option for such persons. Crimes against Humanity have been perpetrated. Let investigations commence - this time without let or hindrance of any kind. And what now of The Fugitive?
Islander said…
The regime has been fairly responsive to previous revelations by Mara. There is a deafening silence on the beating revelation, to date - unless I have missed something.

Could there be fire where there is smoke?
Step tiko vei iko said…
Would a real chief run away...?
The truth by any other name smells the same said…
Isn't the issue whether Mara is lying? If he is, then why should we listen to anything he says? He lies about the fishing, then he lies about the EEZ, and now he seems to be lying about his role in assaulting the women at the Camp. Surely he must be lying about everything?

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