HOSTAGE: On 2 November 2000, the current RFMF Commander Ratu Jone Kalouniwai was held HOSTAGE as the shootings, death and blood flowed during fierce gunfight between rebel and loyal soldiers.
*We are yet to hear from PAP leader Sitiveni Rabuka if the
PHOTO is GENUINE or FAKE?
*As we disclosed previously, some of the weapons the CRW soldiers used in overthrowing the Chaudhry government and holding the MPs hostage for over 50 days were the same weapons Rabuka had confiscated in 1988 that were shipped to Fiji by the London based 'Movement for Democracy in Fiji'.
*We recognised the weapons. The CRW soldiers had trained on his Valavala Estate (Rabuka claims he was not aware of the training) before seizing Parliament in May 2000 and going on to mutiny in November.
During the inciting mutiny trial, Rabuka was adamant that he did NOT bring with him his uniform (Fiji Court of Appeal, 25 June 2007). But, in 2018, finally admitted to the country that he had gone to the military camp with his uniform at the height of the mutiny because he was sent in by the Home Affairs operations to negotiate a ceasefire.
Is this the same UNIFORM?
"When at 5.00 p.m. that afternoon the respondent finished lunch at the Insurance Company office, he travelled out to the Barracks, then still under the control of the rebels, where he went to the officers’ mess. Much reliance was placed by the State on the fact that on arrival he was seen by some witnesses to have with him his Army uniform. It was distinctive in that, being a former Major-General, the collar and shoulders were decorated with red badges or flashes which a number of witnesses claimed to have noticed. On the other hand, two other witnesses as well as the respondent (Rabuka) were equally adamant that the respondent brought no uniform with him. It is very doubtful whether the question of the uniform justified the time and effort expended on it at the trial or on appeal. The prosecution case presumably was that the respondent was planning to wear the uniform in order to promote the incitement to mutiny, or intending to do so as soon as it succeeded in having Commodore Bainimarama removed from command. However, the respondent’s action in taking the uniform with him to wear was and is equally capable of being explained as designed to stress his military position and authority when he came to negotiate a ceasefire. As a Major-General, he would have outranked all others at the Barracks. The uniform would certainly have been more appropriate and impressive than the shirt and sulu that he had been wearing at the Insurance Company lunch.
Fiji Court of Appeal, 25 June 2007
Fijileaks: Our Founding Editor-in-Chief and the late RUSSELL HUNTER were finishing a book, TREASON IN PARADISE: The Inside Story of the 2006 Coup, when Hunter passed away in Brisbane, Australia. Tragically, Hunter could not see this work through to publication. Although he kept his side of the bargain by contributing to the chapters (19 in all), and we produced a full-length manuscript for the publisher in rough draft, his deportation from Fiji in 2008(over Chaudhry's $2million in Sydney bank account story) and later his death meant he could not complete revision, and sharpen and update and incorporate new materials that were continuously leaked to us. We strongly feel we ought to publish the first draft chapter of the book that opens with the bloody 2 November 2000 mutiny.
TREASON IN PARADISE:
THE INSIDE STORY ABOUT 2006 COUP IN FIJI
Russell Hunter and Victor Lal
Fijileaks: GO FOR IT, ITS LEGAL: Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum addressed the Military Council before the 2006 Bainimarama Coup, claiming coup justifiable in law
Bloodbath at the Barracks (Unrevised)
Monday November 2, 2000 was a typical of Suva day for at that time of year - a balmy day with a gentle breeze from the ocean. A clear sky, resembling the colour of the national flag, looked down on a time of minimal activity at the Queen Elizabeth II barracks (QEB), the home of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces. Nobody inside or outside of the military could have foreseen the storm that was about to break. Well, almost nobody.
On that lazy day Lance Corporal Simione Rawaileba, expecting little in the way of activity, returned from the usual lunch of dalo and rice, and lay down to rest in his bunk in the barracks. He slept peacefully never suspecting that it was a slumber from which he would not awake.
As he gently snored, a member of the Counter Revolutionary Warfare group (CRW), an elite force within the RFMF, stole silently into his room on a freelance murder mission all of his own. Rawaileba, a former CRW member had given the man some trouble in the past and would that day pay for it today with his life. The man walked silently to within a metre of the sleeping corporal, drew a Browning 9mm automatic pistol and shot him once in the back of the head at a range of perhaps six inches.The unfortunate and innocent corporal died instantly, his brains and blood splattered across the room. It was the first of many shots, and eight deaths, in an afternoon that would alter Fiji forever.
The shooter (VIC, YOU HAVE HIS NAME) should not have been there. It was not part of the plan by CRW commander Captain Shane Stevens, who later received a life sentence for his part in what followed. The dead man and his murderer were cousins and the killer was to hang himself the next day in a fit of remorse – or possibly in fear of the knowledge of what fate might await him at the hands of the loyalist troops. For worse was to follow.
The CRW group, formerly known as the First Meridian Squadron Force (or 1MS), was the brainchild of the father of the nation’s coup culture – the then Lieutenant Colonel Sitiveni L Rabuka. The CRW were a highly trained outfit – some member’s having had experience with Britain’s Special Air Services Regiment. The CRW had also been heavily involved in all three of the nation’s previous coups. The first two of these were executed by its founder, the third by failed businessman George Speight who was almost certainly no more than a front man. He is to this day in the high-security wing of Naboro Prison serving a life sentence commuted from the death penalty. He is likely to be joined by the military officers responsible for putting him there.
The 25-strong CRW team moved into to the armoury. Helping themselves to automatic assault rifles and stun grenades they set about their mission – to capture – some say to kill - their commander, the now self-appointed and illegal dictator and illegal, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. The commodore was finishing lunch in the officers’ mess when the first shot rang out. Fearing the worst, his security detail hustled him out of there and into his office where it soon became apparent that a full scale mutiny was in progress.
It went so well for the mutineers that the Commodore’s men practically carried him the short distance from his office to the sheer-sloped 100ft deep ravine that still separates the QEII barracks from the residential and light industrial suburb of Namadi Height, Samabula, and thence to the safety of the main naval base in the port of Suva on the coast to the west of Lami..They had scrambled through a rear window just as a heavily armed team of CRW soldiers broke down the front door. The commander escaped certain death by seconds, a terrifying experience that still haunts him.
Meanwhile the dull multiple thuds of automatic fire and the sharp blasts of grenades echoed throughout Suva. The media, desperate for news of what was in progress, rushed to the “camp” as QEB it is universally known. Parked at the top of the ravine overlooking the barracks the Fiji Times van took a stray round and moved to a safer distance. A family of Samabula was later to tell of another stray round that smashed through their window narrowly missing the head of the household as he sat down to lunch with wife and children.
At that time, Land Force Commander, Lt-Col Jone Baledrokadroka had rallied the loyal soldiers (the majority of the infantry division), gathered what weapons and ammunition could be found and mounted an organised counter attack. The resistance sergeant’s experience and training were instrumental in planning the counter attack. Heavily outnumbered, the CRW team had lost the advantage of surprise, they were now heavily outnumbered and while the promised support of 2,000 civilian demonstrators had failed to materialise at the camp gates. The game was up. Some members took flight and were soon captured but most laid down their arms and, prepared themselves to take what was coming to them. Had they known what that was, they might have acted differently.
Three loyalist soldiers - Lance Corporal Rawaileba, Private Seru Sirinavosa and Private Jonetani Veilawai - lay dead in the camp. The remaining 20 or so wounded would all recover. But the scar of that day, however, has never healed. The potential for violent retribution was obvious – but few in Fiji expected what followed from a once proud disciplined service.
Five members of the CRW force were quite literally kicked to death. Post mortem photographs displayed viciously mutilated corpses barely recognisable as human remains.
One of the dead played no part in the mutiny. It seemed CRW membership alone was sufficient motive for the most brutal of murders. The following morning, Jone Kamoe Davui was picked up while in class at the Fiji Technical College. He was taken to join the other CRW prisoners at the Suva Central Police Station from where all were collected in army vehicles. None were seen alive again. Witnesses told the media they heard the sounds of blows and cries of pain from the canopied trucks that took the men away. At the time of this writing , the killers have not been brought to account nearly ten years later.
A Catholic Priest, Father Akauola from Tonga, visited the injured CRW boys who had been tortured and were being held captive in the Korovou prison in Suva, just across the road from the Suva yacht club. Father Akauola recalls that concerned officers within the RFMF had asked him to visit the CRW boys in prison. They were worried about the state of the CRW boys’ injuries and that Frank Bainimarama had given them strict orders not to treat their injuries. More than 60 CRW soldiers were being held in a small and isolated concrete building just inside the prison walls.
The building itself also had a concrete wall around it, like a prison within a prison. Father Akauola recalls seeing Captain Shane Stevens lying on the bare cold concrete floor unable to move with his gunshot wound untreated and looking dangerously infected. The light coming through the opened door was not great but it was enough for Father Akauola to see that Captain Stevens was in really bad shape and clinging to life. Other CRW boys lay injured in the dark and some were groaning from pain. This was not any ordinary sort of pain. These were elite soldiers, tough men feeling pain from severe torture. Most had opened wounds, some were unconscious while others unable to move. The CRW boys had to literally crawl out of the dark room so that Father Akaoula could see them. Some had fractured bones piecing out through their skin, broken jaws, broken limbs, severe bruising and near death.
With tears in his eyes Father Akaoula continued to describe the horror that he saw before him. He could not believe that one human being could do this to another human being. But the horror of Bainimarama’s orders lay there in front of him to see. More CRW soldiers were being rounded up and brought in to the prison each day. Not all of these CRW soldiers were involved in the mutiny, but they had been arrested all the same, severely beaten and tortured. Their families were not told of their whereabouts and nor were they told if they were dead or alive. The world didn’t know of their existence.
Frank Bainimarama had given strict instructions that none of the tortured CRW soldiers were to receive any medical attention. But through the grace of God, this Marist Priest, Father Seluini Akauola, a specialist Moral Theologian and Counselor, was there in Fiji and he went out of his way to seek help for the CRW soldiers. After some negotiating with senior military officers Father Akauola was able to get medical attention for the CRW boys who are still alive today.
Here are a few photos of those tortured and murdered Loyal Fiji CRW soldiers.
At the time, the Suva rumour mill, a machine seldom if ever idle, went into overdrive. A death squad had been dispatched from the northern army base at Labasa to carry out the executions. The commander, still in shock, had ordered the deaths in angry revenge. The deaths were also ordered to protect the faceless ones behind the mutiny. The men were also killed by soldiers wishing to ingratiate themselves with the commander. And so it
In fact, there was and is no evidence to support any of the theories while the commander has, no doubt predictably, consistently denied any involvement in the killings. It is one of the very few matters he has been consistent with. There is in reality no evidence at all.
Acting Police Commissioner Moses Driver pronounced the deaths as murder and launched an investigation – a deed that marked him for later attention from the military.
The shootings and killings were over – but the stain of mutiny would never be removed.
And Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama could never feel safe again. That much is known. Much more remains murky. Shane Stevens maintained at his court martial that the intention was never to kill the commander and that the loyalists fired the first shot. Loyalists were equally resolute in their depositions that the CRW men opened the firing that day.
The then Lt-Col Baledrokadroka was later to be dismissed as Land Force Commander, effectively the now dictator’s 2IC, for refusing to take part in a coup initially planned for 2005. In an email interview with the authors he was scathing of what he described as the failure by then Lt-Col Pita Driti to bring his logistics unit into the fray. Driti later argued that he and his men took control of the magazine building where ammunition was stored separately from the armoury to deny the mutineers access to ammo.
It is of course possible that in the heat of battle both men reported what they saw.
However, in his deposition to the subsequent military board of inquiry that deliberated – mostly in secret – on the events of that day, Lieutenant Colonel Waqausa threw some light on what really happened. We have been unable to interview Lt-Col Waqausa but have found his previously classified evidence which we reproduce here in full. (Fijileaks: We are withholding the evidence. In our research, we also found that Baledrokadroka’s account in his thesis was seriously flawed and questionable, when examined against the evidence of other actors that day, 2 November 2000)
The more important question remains: Why did the CRW men mutiny? As we are about to see it was a result of the actions of two men – Commodore Josaia Vorege Bainimarama, and the former commander and coupist Sitiveni Ligamamada Rabuka.
Chapter 1: Bloodbath at the Barracks
The bloody mutiny of November 2, 2000 from which Bainimarama barely escaped and which informed much of his future attitudes. The murders that followed would haunt the dictator for years to come.
Chapter 2: Saviour or Opportunist?
Bainimarama’s role in the George Speight coup of 2000. His double dealing in the negotiations that ended the Speight hostage crisis, his removal of the president and his bewitching experience of power.
Chapter 3: Who is Bainimarama?
An overview of his naval career, some schoolboy memories, an assessment by then Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes, the harrowing experience of a senior public servant threatened with death.
Chapter 4: Reign of Terror
The Christmas Eve tortures, the murders of two civilians as well as the many acts of intimidation, beatings, threats and harassment of even the mildest regime critics. The firing of a judge’s home,
threats to editors and journalists.
Chapter 5: Frank and the Media
The arrival of total censorship and how it was achieved. The deportations of publishers. The Anthony Report which led to the Media Development Authority and its Orwellian nature. Censorship becomes part of the state apparatus.
Chapter 6: The People’s Charter
A document prepared by hand-picked individuals who made up team in order to set out “binding guidelines” and how it was chaired by Bainimarama and close supporters. The failed attempt to gain public support for it. Its relevance – or otherwise – going forward.
Chapter 7: Shakin’ Stevens
The not unaffectionate soubriquet bestowed on the late president who suffered from some degenerative disease. How he was manipulated by Bainimarama into giving him a “mandate” he had no power to give. Inside accounts of his state of mind, his purported abrogation of the constitution the regime had pledged to uphold. His ultimate removal and death.
Chapter 8: Frank’s Law
The dismissal of the judges. The formation of an independent commission against corruption which was anything but independent. The regime’s contempt for the courts and the legal system. Its refusal to obey High Court orders, its legality as declared by regime-favoured judges and the reversal of it by the Appeal Court leading to the end of the constitution and the appointments of new judges and magistrates. The regime’s refusal to allow entry to the International Bar Association which had wanted to assess the independence of the judiciary.
Chapter 9: Lawfare
The formation of an independent commission against corruption and its relationship to the regime. The expanding practice of using the court system to punish those whom the regime saw as opponents or whom it simply didn’t like. Includes a case study.
Chapter 10: The Police and the Military
The murders investigation and how Frank stonewalled it. The actions of the he military’s legal officer in suspending witness interviews when he feared he police were approaching too close to the truth. Bainimarama’s refusal to attend non-caution interviews. The charges against Bainimarama.
Chapter 11: A Comedy of Errors
Bainimarama’s previous aborted attempts at a coup. The bungled attempt to replace him. The folly of his reappointment.
Chapter 12: Countdown to a Coup
The military’s failed intervention in the 2006 election campaign and its subsequent crescendo of invective against the elected government. Last ditch attempts to neutralise him including an aborted effort to have him arrested in New Zealand. The final hours of the legitimate government.
Chapter 13: The Time has Come
The coup itself and Bainimarama’s promises to the people
Chapter 14: We’ll Do It My Way
Frank’s short-lived “Robin Hood” finance minister and his shorter-lived “cabinet”. The militarisation of the civil service. The Bainimarama back pay scandal and an end to transparency and accountability.
Chapter 15. Just Call Me Frank
The new dictator’s failed efforts to rebuild his image with overseas press corps and his increasing frustration with New Zealand and Australia leading to the deportations of NZ High Commissioner Michael Green and, later, his Australian counterpart.
Chapter 16: A Failing Economy
The disastrous economic impact of the coup with a suddenly shrinking GDP, the end in sight for the sugar industry on which roughly 160,000 people depend for their daily bread. The expropriation of the Fiji Times and other damaging signals which have seen inward investment all but dry up.
Chapter 17: The Secret Police State
Despite its pledges of transparency the Bainimarama regime has restricted access to information previously regarded as public property while its many decrees include the proviso that they cannot be challenged in any court of law. The suppression of auditor general’s reports, the total secrecy surrounding ministers’ salaries. The pay rises for soldiers and a continued crackdown on dissent
Chapter 18: A Friend in Need
The regime’s secret relationship with China and its increasing borrowing from the People’s Republic. The open-door policy to Chinese investment of all kinds and the regime’s willingness to sequestrate native land for Chinese resource and other projects.
Chapter 19: What next?
The regime’s craving for legitimacy leading to the promise of an election in 2014. The role the race vote will play and how Bainimarama has to reshape his policies and image in order to retain power. His efforts at forming a new constitution and how that is likely to favour his continued hold on overall power.