A GROUP of people arrested by police for displaying placards outside Government House yesterday in a peaceful protest against the presidential assent of the 2013 Constitution have been questioned and released.
The group consisting mainly of youths but supported by some of Fiji's major political party leaders, trade unionists and civil society organisations were arrested by police as they assembled without a permit.
Police chief of operations ACP Rusiate Tudravu said the arrest of the 14 people was a normal process to try and advise the group to follow the rule of law.
He said under the Amendment Decree, any gathering should have a permit in a public place.
"If you do not do it, we have to step in. It's just a proactive measure from our side," ACP Tudravu said.
Fiji Islands Council of Trade Unions general secretary Attar Singh said the protesters were opposing the assent process of the Constitution.
"We had a very good rally at the FTA hall yesterday and decided that we should now present a petition to the President to say that the position is incorrect and we are asking for a revised process for constitution making and a way ahead towards elections," Mr Singh said.
He said the protest was a peaceful assembly and people had the right to tell the world of what was happening.
The United Front for a Democratic Fiji and former leader of opposition Mick Beddoes said innocent citizens were being arrested because they came to express their point of view or protest regarding the Constitution.
"When people come to simply stand in silence peacefully, hold the placards and make a protest, they get arrested. That's the reality of what is going on today in Fiji and today (yesterday), the President will have a celebration for this Constitution which is nothing to do with the wishes of the people."
Former prime minister and Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry said the protest was the beginning of the people's fight to restore democracy.
The UFDF also delivered a petition to the President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, yesterday requesting him not to assent the new Constitution.
The petition was received by Ratu Epeli's official secretary Pene Baleinabuli.