The Second Cassava Patch Kid; and Amnesty NZ on “Torture”

Cassava (Manihot esculenta)
On November 2nd 2000 a group of about 50 Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit soldiers under Captain Shane Stevens  attacked the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Suva intent on assassinating Commodore Frank Bainimarama. Four loyal and four rebel soldiers were killed.  Bainimarama narrowly escaped by fleeing  through a nearby cassava patch.  Anti-government bloggers labelled his action cowardly and called him the Cassava Patch Kid and Mr Cassava Patch Runner.
Now Fiji has a second Cassava Patch Kid …
…who, with no bullets flying, broke bail and fled to Tonga, leaving  his family, his colleague Pita Driti, his friends and many others in Fiji to pick up the pieces.  When Tongans retreated from Samoa many years ago they called out, Malie, toa!  that roughly translated means congratulations, warriors. I doubt they said this in welcoming Ratu Tevita.  Ha tangata fakama angafo’i (a shameful coward) would seem more appropriate.
Fiji authorities are being blamed for questioning those who may have assisted his flight, and the international media are making much of alleged abuses, but the critics and the media have  failed to mention that none of this would have happened had this Cassava Patch Runner not run.  The focus should be on the bail-breaker, not on his excuses for flight, his road to Damascus conversion,  or the Fiji authorities.
Allegations of torture
Part of the fall out is due to Ratu Tevita’s allegations that people have been “tortured” by the military — although, of course, he said he did not torture anyone.  This allegation was picked up by Amnesty International NZ’ s Patrick Holmes in Sunday’s  Barbara Dreaver TVOne news item, and was  followed today by this Bruce Hill interview on ABC Pacific Beat. Hill asks Holmes how credible this is and points to possible self-interest: “He might be making it up to make himself look more credible to people overseas?
HOLMES: Well, I think there's always a risk of that and, of course, the politics within the Pacific is extremely complex (He has never been to Fiji!). However, I think people would understand he's from a very wealthy family, a very highly connected from royal (sic!) stock. I don't think he's got anything to gain now.(Bruce was not talking about financial gain).  I don't think he's interested in gaining political ground. (Listen to his Tongan videos). I think he wants to be a soldier and a lot of the other senior officers in the Fiji army also want to be soldiers. They want to do what they're paid for, not police this regime. So I think what he has to say holds incredible weight and I think we should take it extremely seriously.
Patrick, that’s a lot of thinking, but the question is: What do you know, other than by hearsay, biased reports from people like Apolosi Bose, and the word of the Cassava Patch Kid? [Please note that I have ceased making annual donations to AI because of its well-intended but  ill-informed stories on Fiji. ]


Allegations of torture said…
Are you really suggesting that allegations of state sanctioned torture and other very serious matters regarding human rights abuses under this military regime should not be independently investigated?
If so, I really think you need a reality check?
Anonymous said…
Reality check. It was a military coup - they are never 'civilised'. Lots of people where beaten up early on and many many more intimidated and threatened. Now the numbers are much less and I know the PM has asked his men to be careful. The realisty is it will continue because that is how a unelected government keeps control and power. Want other eamples....just look to China !
Anonymous said…
If the PM and his team are squeaky clean and all the reports from Tonga are just venom and rubbish then it shouldn’t be too hard to change peoples views.

1. Release all the auditor general reports from 2007 to now. They used to be released. We have seen only ones that related to SDL multi party published. This makes people think government is hiding things.

2. Publicise all minister’s salaries & benefits. Explain why Ali is doing payroll for ministers (if indeed she is). After the back pay disaster people need more than a ‘trust us on this one.

2. Release the Roadmap. It’s already done and endorsed by the MSG so why hold it back. Get it published and be held accountable to the specific times/dates and actions.

3. Lift the PER now. It’s continued existence stifles free thought and real discussion. The PER it’s like pouring petrol onto a few burning embers. You get a big fire, lots of smoke and heat. You can’t kill blogs but this government may as well put up free internet kiosks and massive signs “read anti government bogs here”.

And I know these ones are unlikely but Fiji needs true leadership.

1. Donate your backpay to charity. The whole lot. Give some credibility to your original promise that no one in the military will benefit from the coup
2. Promise (and stick to it) that only police will investigate and detain people
What a pity said…
What a pity Shane Stevens did not succeed in his honourable mission? It would have saved Fiji and its children a lot of heartache.
Kahukiwa said…
For someone who professes to provide unbiased commentary you appear to be directing a lot of venom towards Ratu Mara. I mean, 'The Second Cassava Patch Kid'....whats that? Bit churlish.

Whats the matter Croz? Are we upset at the unseemly sight of a falling out between thieves and all the dirty laundry that usually accompanies such events?

And your comments on the performance of the NZ and Australia media and their reporting of this saga are starting to wear a bit thin - stop shooting the messenger, no media anywhere is perfect. You sound more the idiots in Suva with each passing day.

And the other thing Croz - he got away - get over it!
Croz Walsh said…
@ Kahukiwa ...1) Venom? From me? Haven't you listened to Ratu Tevita?
2) The media? When did you protest their bias? 3)My bias? Reread your comment!
Kahukiwa said…

There is no such thing as an unbiased media!

The problem with both NZ and Australian media is more one of laziness - out of date backgrounder pictures and video, mispronunciations and the like.
But it is difficult to see what agenda they are running in regards to Mara and Fiji. The regime in Suva has so little credibility that to suggest they are victims of a media inspired conspiracy is stretching it a bit.

With all due respect - and you are more than fair in your publishing of all postings on this blog - you do need to get off this bashing the media. Accept that they are arrogant, rarely accountable unless sanctioned in the courts, and motivated by news cycles and little else.

This airing of dirty linen is long overdue - whatever the motives of Mara - and it may well be that a lot of it is unsubstantiated. But at least, finally, something is out there. Let the public - and the courts - decide what is credible.

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