Pacific Media Watch

16 June 2020

FIJI: Police question USP librarian as crackdown on criticism grows

Some University of the South Pacific staff and students who were gathered near the USP Library to show support to the now-suspended USP Vice-Chancellor, Pal Ahluwalia have been told by Police that any continuation of the protest would require a permit. Video: FijiVillage

SUVA (Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Centre): Fiji police today questioned two University of the South Pacific staff over the “solidarity” rallies for the vice-chancellor last week at the Laucala campus in Suva.

The police interviewed chief librarian, Dr Elizabeth Reade Fong, this morning for about an hour and then later questioned general-secretary Ilima Finiasi of USP’s staff union at police CID headquarters in Toorak.

Dr Reade said she was questioned about last week’s rallies, reports FBC News. Both USP staff presented themselves at the Toorak headquarters.

READ MORE: Pacific leadership in spotlight over USP crisis

Police Commissioner Brigadier-General Sitiveni Qiliho had earlier said the police were looking into possible breaches of covid-19 restrictions by those who had been protesting at the Laucala campus.

For the past week, there have been many “solidarity” gatherings for Professor Ahluwalia across the Pacific at USP campuses and centres.

Fiji Village reports Dr Reade has been a staff representative speaking out against Professor Ahluwalia’s suspension pending investigations.

She was also part of the group of staff and students that had gathered at USP in support of Professor Ahluwalia last Monday.

Dr Reade was also interviewed on Mai TV’s Simpson @ Eight programme about the future of the university.

The Fiji Times reports staff union general-secretary Ilima Finiasi was questioned this afternoon.

Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro confirmed Finiasi was being questioned over allegations of breaching national covid-19 restrictions.

Pacific Media Watch

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators. (cc) Creative Commons