25 Feb 2011

Amnesty says Fiji military beats former politician unconscious

5:44 pm on 25 February 2011

Amnesty International says it has grave concerns for the safety of activists and government critics in Fiji following the savage beating of a former politician, Samisoni Tikonisau, at the hands of the military.

Amnesty says Mr Tikonisau was taken into the Queen Elizabeth Barracks on Monday and released three days later to be flown to Australia for treatment.

It says Mr Tikonisau, also known as Sam Speight, was beaten until he lost consciousness.

It says in the last week a government critic, several trade unionists and politicians were detained and beaten.

The chief executive of Amnesty International Aotearoa/New Zealand, Patrick Holmes, says the latest detention is just another in a series of intimidation.

"This is serious and I think the government cannot hide this one, and I think they have been pretty successful closing down the free press of hiding things in recent months. But I think they have of made a big mistake this time because if Sam Speight doesn't recover consciousness or he has permanent damage, particularly as he a high profile individual, I think that inevitably will hit international press."

Patrick Holmes says the detentions are a continution of the bully boy tactics since the abrogation of the consitution by the interim regime.

The military has referred inquiries to the information ministry.

The information ministry has so far declined to comment about the beating.