3 Mar 2011

Families help avert worse abuse by Fiji military says group

4:05 pm on 3 March 2011

A Fiji democracy campaigner in Australia says a group of young men who were reportedly detained and beaten by the military could have suffered worse violence without the intervention of friends and family.

The Sydney-based Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement says the youths were taken to the army barracks in Suva after talking about a demonstration proposed for tomorrow.

It's president Usaia Waqatairewa says it was fortunate their friends and family pleaded for them to be freed or they could have suffered a similar fate to teenager Sakiusa Rabaka who died after being beaten by the military in 2007.

But he says the group of about 10 young people were still subjected to physical and mental violence.

"They were beaten up and slapped around, sworn at, laughed at. These are young men in their early to mid 20s. They were made to kiss each other while the soldiers mocked them. So you know they were subjected to humiliating treatment."

Usaia Waqatairewa says the young men's supporters were also abused and manhandled when they confronted the military but the youths were released after about three of four hours.

The interim government in Fiji is yet to respond to the allegations.