Acting Police Commissioner Rusiate Tudravu says the situation in the Sigatoka area was handled in accordance with the Public Health Act and it was not done as a form of intimidation to silence the people who were speaking out against ongoing containment efforts as claimed by some.
Some villagers of Namatakula on the Coral Coast, in the province of Nadroga/Navosa, were taken in by the Police for questioning when they were protesting regarding the plans to use facilities on the Coral Coast as quarantine areas for COVID-19.
Tudravu says they are gravely concerned with the way false and misleading information is being used to derail the current COVID-19 containment efforts.
He says the recent accusations made against the Force in the way they had handled the Sigatoka situation is an example of misinformation that was quickly used by certain individuals to advance their own political agendas.
He adds the misinformation is being fuelled by self-centred individuals who are only thinking about advancing their personal agenda and without thinking of the consequences their actions have on the greater public and the greater good which is to return to some form of normalcy. The Acting Commissioner says they acknowledge every individual’s rights to freedom of expression, but these rights are not absolute and come with a greater sense of responsibility.
Tudravu says what must be understood is that the Force will conduct necessary investigations when an issue is brought to their attention to determine the truth before taking the next course of action.
He says they don’t want to be arresting people as this has always been seen as a last resort which is why they are pleading with Fijians to be cautious about sharing and acting on unproven and unsupported information.
The Head of the Police Force says some of those sharing the false information will go to the extent of using others to push their agenda and that is what they want people to avoid being caught up in.
The Acting Commissioner adds the majority of those that are spreading false and misleading information are doing so without a second thought for those who are wanting to go back to work, the families who have been separated for a long period of time, families who cannot accord their loved ones their final farewell, those who are missing important family milestones, front-line workers who have spent weeks and months away from the comforts of their homes and for Fiji's future generation whose education is being halted as we try to contain the virus.
Tudravu says these selfish individuals have managed to cause division within the society where we are turning against each other rather than working together to fight the virus that has impacted and changed our lives.
He says the positives of how cooperation works have been seen in recent days where thousands of Fijians returned to work and businesses operating under strict health guidelines.
He is urging everyone that we should be treating the virus as the enemy and not each other and the best and easiest way to win this battle is to listen and follow advisories and news about the pandemic from the Ministry of Health and relevant trusted stakeholders.
The Acting Commissioner highlighted the longer we remain defiant the longer the battle will be.
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