One man charged by police for obstructing mining work
Samisoni Pareti | Islands Business
Landowners’ opposition to the proposed multi-million dollar copper and gold mine on central Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island has flared up again this week with the arrest by Fijian police of a 57-year old landowner.
Police say the man was detained after landowners – believed to be from the village of Namosi in Namosi Province — erected a roadblock on a road being built by mining conglomerate Namosi Joint Venture – a partnership between Australia’s mining giant Newcrest and two Japanese interests.
The 57-year old who is alleged to have ordered a group of construction workers to leave a mining site as well as unlawfully erecting a roadblock yesterday has been charged.
“The accused has been charged with one count of obstructing the holder of a mining tenement,” police in Suva said in a brief press statement released a short time ago. “He will be produced at the Navua Magistrates Court tomorrow.”
Police confirmed a few other men were detained for questioning and have been released. Among them was Sipiriano Nariva, secretary of the Namosi Tikina (district) Landowners Committee (TNLC). He told Islands Business Online his 57-year old older brother was the only one arrested by police when they broke up their roadblock protest in Namosi on Wednesday.
“I volunteered to be arrested too, and police took me and my brother to Navua Police Station where we spent the night in the station’s jail. I was not questioned by police, only my brother was, and I was released to go this morning.”
According to Nariva, more than 20 men, members of TNLC erected the roadblock to protest NJV’s use of their land to construct a new road. He said landowners had offered a different land to be used by the mining company, but NJV rejected the offer.
He said although the head of the landowning unit had signed away the use of the land to NJV, the landowning leader later realised he doesn’t have the power to give away the land, and that at least 60 per cent of his landowning unit members needed to give their consent. This Nariva said was never given, and he accused the Fiji Police of strong arm tactics.
“We don’t know why police are involved in this civil dispute in the first place,” said Nariva. “When we held a meeting with government officials on November 6th late last year, police officers surrounded the meeting house, and a senior police came in to declare that he would be chairing the meeting.
“Police have no need to intervene in this dispute and we will seek a meeting with the Prime Minister to raise our concerns.”
Following earlier protests by TNLC members in 2012, PM Bainimarama intervened and ordered NJV to restore land it had damaged through its copper and gold exploration works in Namosi. His government has since deferred handing NJV the licence to mine.
Villager charged by police
Avinesh Gopal | Fiji Times
A VILLAGER has been charged by police with one count of obstructing the holder of a mining tenement.
The 57-year old man is alleged to have ordered a group of construction workers to leave a mining site as well as unlawfully erecting a roadblock yesterday. Police spokeswoman Ana Naisoro said the man will be produced at the Navua Magistrates Court tomorrow. Ms Naisoro said a few other people were taken in by police for questioning and released as investigations continue.