RFMF HITS OUT AT MP CHAND
Colonel Ratu Jone says: It was the military that successfully quelled the 2000 rebellion People should appreciate that military men and women sacrificed to protect Indo-Fijians ‘over their own blood and Vanua’
The Republic of Fiji Military Forces says some people fail to appreciate the sacrifices it made for Indo-Fijians “over their own blood and Vanua” in 2000.
Chief of Staff Colonel Ratu Jone Kalouniwai made the remarks in response to a statement made by National Federation Party MP Parmod Chand in Parliament.
He supported an earlier statement by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama who also criticised Mr Chand.
(See yesterday’s Fiji Sun – PM to Chand: Where were you in 2000?)
Mr Chand said: “May I remind this house that in 2000, the honorable Prime Minister was the leader of the military forces. He could not control his guns. He is to be blamed for the 2000 coup, not the people”. Colonel Ratu Jone said the RFMF was deeply concerned by Mr Chand’s attack accusing the RFMF and the PM for being responsible for the 2000 coup.
He said: “It is quiet disturbing that people like the Honourable Parmod Chand has decided to forget the role the RFMF executed to quell the rebellion and upheaval of 2000. More disturbing is the fact that he emphatically decides to blame the very institution that brought back stability to this country during the 56 days of the 2000 insurrection by hardline
nationalist elements against a Fijian of Indian descent Prime Minister.
“The year 2000 was one of the darkest moments of our nation’s existence since independence.”
2000 coup – In history
On May 19, 2000, one year after being in office as the country’s first Indo-Fijian Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry was deposed in a coup led by George Speight and supported by some rebel members of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit of the RFMF.
It unleased a spate of violence in several parts of the country as rebel
iTaukei groups, in support of Speight’s crusade for iTaukei political supremacy, went on a rampage, setting up roadblocks, pillaging homes and raping women.
The victims were Indo-Fijians. In Labasa, Mr Bainimarama said a parliament group under Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu took over the military camp and ransacked Labasa Town. Ratu Naiqama was one of the eight SVT MPs in Parliament before the coup.
He is now SODELPA MP and president. Acting Prime Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum also spoke in Parliament about the atrocities that were committed after the coup.
He said women were raped, some had cassava shoved up their vaginas.
Others were stripped naked and paraded in front of people and made to walk to cook over fire.
PM query’s Chand’s claims
Mr Bainimarama asked Mr Chand where was he when all these were happening. Mr Chand had claimed that they (NFP) had protested and opposed all the coups including the 2000 coup.
Colonel Kalouniwai’s response
In November 2000, there was a military mutiny, in support of Speight, at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Nabua, Suva. Four loyal soldiers and four rebel CRW soldiers died.
Colonel Ratu Jone said: “For 56 days the Chaudhry government and parliamentary staff were held hostage, the RFMF together with its Commander stood with the few against ethno-nationalism. The rebels were prepared to shed blood for this cause and lives of our service men in both the Military and the Police Force were lost the line of duty standing up against an ethno nationalist threat that was designed to bring about total indigenous iTaukei supremacy and the expelling of Fijians of Indian descent.
“His (Mr Chand’s) statement belittles the professionalism and commit
ment of our men and women who stood their ground to preserve and safeguard life as the George Speight group took over the parliamentary grounds, pillaging and raping women and young girls within its walls; causing havoc in the heart of Suva burning major centres and buildings and stealing at the same time; using brainwashed indigenous young and old men to confront the members of the RFMF and general public on many occasions; trying to disarm them whilst manning checkpoints
leading up to Parliament house; forcefully entering homes around Veiuto and Domain stealing, threatening and demanding food; taking over of the Sukanaivalu Barracks in Labasa threatening Fijians of Indian descent by retaking their leased lands; burning down of the PAFCO on Ovalau; and the rebellious siege of the Kalabu Fijian School in Nasinu are to name a few. “When the threshold of violence had been reached,
the decision was given to stabilise the situation, it was the RFMF that went in decisively engaging these rebel elements in Vanua Levu, Ovalau, and Viti Levu. It was through the professionalism of the RFMF that the whole operation was executed with as minimal collateral damage as possible. “Was there a Massacre of rebellious groups? Did the RFMF operate employing firing squads that killed with impunity? “No, the RFMF operated on very strict rules of engagement, it operated with a sense of responsibility where unlike the Rebels they used a coded ‘Operation Moses’ (lead the iTaukei to total Control and Supremacy), and the RFMF executed its coded ‘Operation Prodigal Son’ where the intent was to bring them back into a sense of reality that required them to put away racial differences and the need that all races need to work together for the betterment of the Country. “The RFMF wishes to remind the Honourable Parmod Chand, that had the RFMF jumped on the George Speight Bandwagon, the Honourable Parmod Chand wouldn’t be having the very privilege to sit in that august House as an MP. The Honourable Chand needs to be reminded that like the military, Officers have privileges but soldiers have rights, where that right is to be led ably.
“Like MPs, they have political privileges that allow them to speak on the issues that safeguard and govern our nation. However, it is the right of the people who elect them there, that they must exist to exercise their privilege for the betterment of this nation and not ruin it by piggy-backing on a suspicious cause that is politically motivated to bring about hate, distrust and potentially lead to violence, pitting ethnic differences against each other for the benefit of getting into power - pending the upcoming elections. “Honourable Parmod Chands statement has touched a very deep and sensitive part of the RFMF, basically because the impact the events of 2000 had on the RFMF i.e, its Officers, soldiers, their families and the Institution as a whole. Many lives were lost, some honorably whilst others lost their creed as soldiers, many others have been psychologically and emotionally scarred because of how the actions of a few very irresponsible people almost plunged our nation back into its dark ages.
“The fact that the men and women of the RFMF sacrificed so much for the safety of Fijians of Indian descent, such words of accusation are stirring their feelings causing much concern to now understand that there are some who share no appreciation of the sacrifices the RFMF made for Fijian people of Indian descent over their very own blood and Vanua.
“To question why it took the RFMF 56 days to quell the rebellion is an indication of one’s lack of understanding in considering the critical importance of the hostages’ safety which was paramount. The decisions made on that day saved their lives. Had an irrational decision been made then it would have caused the lives of the hostages to be lost.
“The RFMF is concerned that such statements by the Honourable Parmod Chand have dishonored the sacrifices the members of the RFMF made for his people – Fijians of Indian descent, however it is some consolation to know that despite such accusations that saying that a snake will always shed its skin to be able to survive does speak volumes now.
“Despite these rhetorics of accusation, the RFMF will continue to rise above such petty politics for the sake of all races and continually ensure the overall Security, Well-being and Defence of Fiji and all Fijians.” Mr Chand said yesterday he had said what he wanted to say in Parliament.
Republic of Fiji Military Forces chief of staff Colonel Ratu Jone Kalouniwai.
National Federation Party Opposition MP Parmod Chand outside Parliament earlier this week.