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Racist Taunts Anger Fijian Soldier’s Wife

Racist Taunts Anger Fijian Soldier’s Wife
Fijian Scottish soldier Jone Tuwaiwai with his wife Helen Marie O’Malley.
August 14
11:59 2018

The wife of a Fijian soldier who served for 14 years in the British Army has alleged that her son has been subjected to racist taunts.

Helen Marie O’Malley is the wife of veteran Jone Tuiwaiwai, who served with the Royal Regiment of Scotland and completed two tours in Afghanistan and three tours in Iraq.

In an interview she gave to Glasgow-based Scottish tabloid newspaper Daily Record, Ms O’Malley detailed the racial abuse that soldiers from Commonwealth nations and their families faced.

She revealed that adopted Scottish soldiers from countries such as Fiji, St Vincent and South Africa including their wives and children face racist physical and verbal abuse.

It has gone to the extent that they have had to change their son’s school because of racist bullying.

Examples of incidents that have happened include one in which the seven-year-old son of a Fijian soldier was attacked by a gang of kids, battered with a piece of wood and racially abused.

Commonwealth soldiers also face a bill of more than £2000 (FJ$5396.31) just to stay in the country they fought for.

Helen Marie O’Malley

Helen Marie O’Malley

‘inVALID Voices’

The issue has been highlighted by overseas media and played out in a theatre piece at the Army Reserve Centre at East Claremont in the United Kingdom.

The hour-long play ‘inVALID Voices’ is written and directed by Ms O’Malley and is based on interviews with women serving as and married to Commonwealth soldiers in the British Army and also includes music from Fiji and Scotland.

She told Daily Record that she discovered that the racial taunts were directed towards colleagues from mixed race and Fijian people.

“My son was bullied at school because he was darker than the other kids. We had to move him to another school,” she said.

“I wanted to let people know what goes on.”

Ms O’Malley revealed how families lived on a knife-edge when their loved ones are deployed and how Fijian “Jocks” also face visa woes and immigration laws which take no account of military service.

“I wanted to write something that showed what real people’s lives are like. It is based on interviews with women serving in the Army and women married to Commonwealth soldiers.”

“I found out about one wee boy whose dad was in the Army. He went to school in Edinburgh and one day after he got home, another boy came to his door to get him to come out and play. When he came out, a gang of kids took him away and battered him.

“They gouged his back with a big bit of wood and battered him while racially abusing him.”

In Suva a former British Army officer who wishes to remain anonymous shared similar sentiments and said that the issue has been ongoing but they have handled it internally.

Poster for the play ‘inVALID Voices’.

Poster for the play ‘inVALID Voices’.

Danger to Fijian families?

Now that it has come out the officer is worried the issues might escalate and endanger the Fijian families even more.

“It is their lifestyle whether we like it or not. That is how people in those parts of the world are,” the officer said.

“Even the small kids are doing things like beating people up, scaring them whenever they want. And when we want to take matters into our own hands they complain to authorities which in turn gets us into more problems.”

While on one posting, the former officer’s seven-year-old daughter returned from school in tears after she was verbally abused by an 11-year-old male student and called ‘a big fat b**ch’ among other things.

“Bullying happens in school because parents have no control over their children when they are young,” he said.

The cast and team of inVALID Voices were honoured to welcome the Fijian High Commissioner to the UK Jitoko Tikolevu who attended the show with his family on Sunday afternoon at Hepburn House as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe which began on August 10, 2018.

Bernie Johansen-Baselala one of the actors of inVALID Voices said: “There is a lot of behind-the-scenes things that go on, and the difficult situations they find themselves in, so I think this play is brilliant because it highlights all these issues in it.”

British Army Support Officer based in Fiji, Major Darren Dangerfield said: If this were 18 years ago it would be completely possible.

“The idea of the play on one side being the wives of the military families when the parent goes away and they are left all alone it can be a dark and scary place and I understand that side of the play completely,” Major Dangerfield said.

However, he said he had his doubts on the need to have a racial twist in the play.

“She may have her experiences, but to put it out there as if it is a big problem I have never had any experiences of that and we have not received any reports about it,” Major Dangerfield said.

He said it is possible the racial abuse was an isolated incident.

It is understood that there are about 1350 Fijians currently in the British Army.

The wife of Fijian Scottish soldier Jone Tuwaiwai (pictured fighting with the Royal Regiment of Scotland in Afghanistan) has alleged that her son has been subjected to racist taunts. Helen Marie O’Malley told the Daily Record newspaper about the racial abuse that those from Commonwealth nations and their families faced.  She revealed that adopted Scottish soldiers from countries such as Fiji, St Vincent and South Africa including their wives and children face racist physical and verbal abuse.  Photo: Daily Record

The wife of Fijian Scottish soldier Jone Tuwaiwai (pictured fighting with the Royal Regiment of Scotland in Afghanistan) has alleged that her son has been subjected to racist taunts. Helen Marie O’Malley told the Daily Record newspaper about the racial abuse that those from Commonwealth nations and their families faced. She revealed that adopted Scottish soldiers from countries such as Fiji, St Vincent and South Africa including their wives and children face racist physical and verbal abuse. Photo: Daily Record

Edited by Percy Kean

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