Thursday, March 7, 2013

Fiji prisoner beating: 'They treated my son like an animal'

A tearful Viriseini Sanawa tells of the trauma she endured while watching the online video.
Picture: Jone Luvenitoga/Fiji Times
By Nanise Loanakadavu of The Fiji Times

"ISA na luvequ! Oilei turaga! Sa mosi dina na yaloqu, na cava beka e leqa
(Oh my son! Oh Lord! My heart is in pain, what is the problem)."

These were words of 42-year-old Viriseini Sanawa, the mother of one of the two handcuffed men being brutalised by a group of men - identified as security forces - in an online video that went viral on Monday night. It is now being investigated by Fiji police.

It was after midday on Wednesday when Sanawa's neighbour called her to watch what they believed was her son being brutalised by the group in the tray of a truck. She said the family did not mention anything about the video until she watched it and confirmed it was her son, Iowane Benedito.

"Isa, koya saraga qo na luvequ. Isa, Iowane na luvequ (That's my son ... Iowane, my son).

"Sa rui rarawa vaka levu na yaloqu niu sa sarava tu na tovo vaka manumanu sa caka tu vua na luvequ (My heart aches when I watch how my son was treated like a animal).

"Au sega ni vakacegu rawa baleta niu sega ni namaka ni rawa ni caka vua na luvequ na ka e sega ni rawa ni caka vua dua na tamata (I can't rest because I did not expect that what cannot be done to any human being was done to my son)."

Sanawa said she went back home trembling after watching the video.

Benedito, 24, the eldest of three children, escaped from prison in December and was recaptured a week later.

His younger brother, Samisoni, told their younger sister after watching the video on Tuesday and they begged their mother not to watch the video.

When the The Fiji Times visited the family at their Kinoya home in Nasinu, Sanawa was sitting on a chair weeping.

"Au tekiduru kau tagi vua na Kalou me solia vei au na vakacegu (I knelt down and cried asking the Lord to give me peace).

"Sega ni dua na tina e na rawa ni ciqoma na ka oqo kevaka e caka vua na luvena Isa na luvequ. (No mother can accept this if this was their child)."

Sanawa said her son had done wrong and she would have accepted if the security forces had locked him for a long time rather than brutalising him.

His father, Vueti Sanawa, a retired military officer of 29 years, said he had given the best of his life serving the country and was disappointed.

He said he would not find peace until justice "is done to those who are involved".

"God knows who you are," he said.

"He knows the pain we are suffering."

Vueti Sanawa said his faith would one day bring justice to their family and those involved would be thrown into jail.

He said the incident had not only made his family cry but everyone who viewed the footage.

Sanawa said they were grateful to whoever leaked the video and begged Prime Minister Commodore Vioreqe Bainimarama and the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, to investigate and ensure the men who beat his son face justice.

He said in all his life as a soldier in the Middle East, he had never come across any torture such as that he witnessed of his son.
                      The controversial brutality video. WARNING: Graphic violence.

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