torika bolatagici

Condoleezza Rice praises Fiji activist

In Uncategorized on March 12, 2008 at 9:10 pm
March 12, 2008 – 11:06AM

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has delivered a slap in the face to Fiji’s military, awarding a medal for courage to an activist beaten by soldiers.Fiji activist and former journalist Virisila Buadromo was given the International Women of Courage Award at a ceremony in Washington on Monday.

Buadromo runs the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and was one of only eight women worldwide who were honoured for their courageous work by Rice, and the only one from the Asia Pacific area.

The activist was among a group of six people critical of the military coup who claimed they were taken by soldiers from their homes on Christmas Eve to barracks where they endured days of abuse.

Fiji’s military leader and self-appointed prime minister Frank Bainimarama has consistently denied human rights abuses in his country have been widespread since the coup.

But Rice said Buadromo “endured days of horrific abuse” in military barracks, followed by a two-month travel ban.

She praised Buadromo as a strong grassroots advocate for women’s development and human rights.

“It is a privilege to bestow the Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage to Ms Virisila Buadromo,” Rice said at the awards ceremony.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has said Buadromo and five others were beaten by military officials following the military coup.

“At least two were hit in the face in the course of their questioning, and one required a neck brace following her release. Another suffered a broken leg and broken ribs.

“Early the following morning, they were forced to run 10km in the rain to Lami, where they were made to dismantle pro-democracy banners,” HRW said in a statement last year.

© 2008 AAP


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