Sunvoice

Release Of 45 brings Relief To The Nation

The safe release of the 45 Golan Heights Fijian peacekeepers held captive by Syrian rebels, Nusra Front, has come as a big relief for the nation. In his national address,
13 Sep 2014 13:59
Release Of 45 brings Relief To The Nation
Flying Fijians at the ANZ National Stadium in Suva

The safe release of the 45 Golan Heights Fijian peacekeepers held captive by Syrian rebels, Nusra Front, has come as a big relief for the nation.

In his national address, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, said: My fellow Fijians, I’m delighted to announce to the nation that the 45 Fijian peacekeepers being detained in Syria have been released unharmed. They are now safely back in a United Nations compound, they are all healthy, they are in high spirits and they will soon be in contact with their families and loved ones here in Fiji.”

For two weeks the nation waited with bated breath about their fate.

Then it came, the news that everyone had been waiting for.

Mr Bainimarama rightly called them heroes. They are heroes because they followed the command of their military superiors not to fire at rebels and lay down their arms. They showed restraint and kept their cool in the most extreme circumstances imaginable. Their commanding officer, Captain Savenaca Siwatibau Rabuka, must be commended for his leadership.

The same cannot be said of the Filipino peacekeepers who defied orders, fired at rebels  and reportedly killed two in the process, before they escaped. As a result, they left their Fijian counterparts exposed and in danger of copping the flak of their irresponsible action.

Because of our troops’ discipline, not one militant was killed and none of our soldiers was harmed.

They upheld the integrity of UN peacekeeping and as a result have strengthened Fiji’s reputation in the international community.

Our heroes have shown the world their discipline and resolve and have maintained the respect and trust of the United Nations for Fiji’s participation in present and future peacekeeping missions.

We need to recognise all those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to secure the Fijians’ release. The PM for his decisive action in scrambling his emissaries to help in the negotiations. Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, for his part in getting Qatar to use its influence and secure the release.

Brigadier-General Mosese Tikoitoga for his composure and leadership. Major-General Ioane Naivalurua and Land Force Commander Colonel Ratu Jone Kalouniwai and the UN team join the ranks of those who deserve recognition too.

No doubt this incident united all the people, different religions and other groups to come together in prayers. We can say their combined prayers were answered.

The soldiers’ families must also be commended for their remarkable courage and faith.

As the Prime Minister said – “I know all Fijians join me in feeling a great sense of relief and joy, as well as a deep appreciation for all those who had a hand in securing their safe release, including the skilled group of UN negotiators and our superb team in New York and Suva, who worked constantly behind the scenes to produce this outcome. As a nation, we thank you.”

Feedback:  maikab@fijisun.com.fj

 




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