Fiji police question USP librarian as crackdown on criticism grows

USP librarian Elizabeth Reade Fong ... questioned by police over USP "protests". Image: Fiji Village

Pacific Media Watch

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

Elizabeth Reade Fong
Dr Elizabeth Reade Fong with Professor Pal Ahluwalia at the opening of the refurbished USP library last year. Image: USP

Dr Reade maintains that they were not protesting but rather supporting the now suspended vice-chancellor Professor Pal Ahluwalia, a whistleblower over the regional universities finances.

The Fiji police have started an investigation into the public gathering of staff and students at the university.

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.

Ilima Finiasi
USP staff union general-secretary Ilima Finiasi (in red checked shirt) in Toorak today … questioned by police about the campus rallies in support of Professor Pal Ahluwalia. Image: Luke Rawalai/Fiji Times
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