fiji UNCENSORED

April 30, 2009

Regime denies permit for Fiji Media Council meeting

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 13:10
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NEWS

A DIRECTIVE from the Permanent Secretary for Information, Lieutenant-Colonel Neumi Leweni has forced the cancellation of the monthly meeting of the Fiji Media Council.

The council was to have met yesterday, Wednesday, April 29, in Suva to discuss among other things the council’s annual media awards.

It applied for a permit to hold its meeting in Suva, but the application was rejected by the office of the Commissioner Central, headed by another military man, Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga.

Lt-Colonel Leweni is a member of the Fiji Media Council, in his role as Information permanent secretary.

Reliable government sources have confirmed that Lt-Col Leweni advised against the meeting ”until the Public Emergency Regulation period expires”.

The 30-day period covering the emergency regulation will expire on 10 May.

Caretaker Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama publicly stated that the PER was imposed solely for the media.

Bainimarama wants the Fiji media to be ”pro-Fiji”.  fiji uncensored

April 29, 2009

Pamphlets triggered military’s PR offensive

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 17:10
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NEWS

THE Fiji military’s current public relations offensive was in response to anti-regime pamphlets distributed by a group that was led by nationalist politician Iliesa Duvuloco.

Two days ago, Fiji Uncensored reported that the military’s PR exercise that is being led by the Commissioner Central Mosese Tikoitoga. Tikoitoga is also a colonel in the army.

The report said teams of soldiers had been combing potential hot spots in Tailevu and Naitasiri for the past week. We actually named the two villages of Delaidamanu in Naitasiri and Naibulini in Wainibuka, Tailevu.

Duvuloco is from Wainibuka and police have confirmed that he and five others have been detained for breaching the public emergency laws currently in place.

Today, FijiVillage.com reported that Duvuloco has been admitted to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital in Suva complaining of chest pains.

The group was allegedly distributing pamphlets calling on the indigenous people to rise up against the Frank Bainimarama regime.

Written in the Fijian language, the pamphlets said enough was enough and that they were willing to risk jail or torture in their fight to uphold the 1997 Constitution.

Fiji Uncensored will publish the contents of the pamphlet once a copy is obtained. fiji uncensored

April 28, 2009

UN cuts Fiji off from peacekeeping role

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 17:25
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AUSTRALIAN reports are quoting Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as saying that the United Nations will no longer recruit Fiji soldiers for peacekeeping missions.

“Through our own interventions with the United Nations and supported by New Zealand and other countries, the United Nations is now not going to engage future or new Fijian troops for new operations,” Rudd was reported as saying.

Fiji has been an important topic of talks in the Australian capital Canberra between Rudd and his Papua New Guinea counterpart Sir Michael Somare.

Two days ago, the news portal Fijilive said the country’s military regime was confident the UN would ignore pressure to cut Fiji off from the financially-lucrative peacekeeping tasks.

Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for Information, Major Neumi Leweni said Fiji would not be affected because the UN hadn’t stopped the participation of troops from countries like Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

“Precedence has been set, like Pakistan, Thailand. All these are very big troop contributing countries to the UN,” Leweni told Fijilive.

Fiji’s first two regular infantry battalions are traditionally stationed overseas on peacekeeping duties – the 1st Battalion has served in Lebanon, Iraq, and East Timor under the command of the United Nations, while the 2nd Battalion is stationed in Sinai with the Multinational Force and Observers.

Rudderless and confused

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 13:08
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READER’S VIEW

The lack of an alternative leader leaves this contributor more confused than ever

by nom de plume

FOR a long time I was unable to decide which side of the fence I stood with regard to Bainimarama.

When he went on that crusade to pressure the Qarase Government to bring to justice those allegedly behind the 2000 coup I silently cheered, especially when I believed not a word about this being a Fijian cause.

To me they were a bunch of failed businessmen and vanquished politicians who could not bear the thought of losing their Pajeros.

The side effects of the 2000 coup had hit my family hard – our income could barely support us and we were scrapping the barrel for weeks on end.

You try eating dhal and leftover rice three times a day, week after week after week, and see how your outlook on life changes.

The people I hang around, from government, the military and police, the diplomatic service, the media and the Judiciary, would keep me plugged into the behind-the-scenes manoeuvring that was taking place in the lead-up to December 2006.

The picture I began to get of Bainimarama was someone who was increasingly making decisions based on not much thought and a whole lot of emotion. Not really the kind of person I’d want controlling the nation’s military, especially when he was beginning to act like a foolhardy general with his thumb on the doomsday button.

I was not a Qarase supporter (I’m still not) and I fumed when he, and this is my subjective view, found ingenious ways to let convicted 2000 coup supporters off the hook.

But Qarase, even with his foibles, was who the people of Fiji selected as their prime minister under the system we had all agreed to use.

If voters like me did not like what he was doing, we could wait five years and vote him out. (This was exactly how I felt about Mahendra Chaudhry when he was prime minister and I liked him even less than Qarase.)

But clearly patience was not a virtue shared by all.

My support for Bainimarama was goingthe same way as the government he removed. It evaporated soon after.

In my mind I could not reconcile what the Commodore began espousing – “democracy”, “end the coup culture”, “justice” – with an undemocratic, illegitimate, coup.

Yes, turning Fiji into an egalitarian society sounded good, but why didn’t he just become a politician like the previous army commander and push those ideals at the ballot box?

Of course, that would take a lot of work, seeing how easily race had dominated Fiji’s elections.

But a coup?

Fast forward to 2009, just prior to the Appeals Court decision. Again I’m wavering. Two and a half years of international pressure has failed to dislodge Bainimarama.

People are suffering. Poorer. Sadder. You can see it in their eyes.

Have I supported a hardline stance against Bainmarama because I now have a good enough job that my family is not affected by the economic situation?

That instead of worrying about where my next meal will come from, I can sit around and play the philosopher and think about politics and international relations.

Perhaps appeasement should be the new foreign policy direction for countries like Australia and New Zealand.

They may not like what Bainimarama has done, but this is the reality in Fiji: He is in power and it is him they must engage.

No, I don’t like what Bainimarama has done but calling for trade sanctions will also make life even tougher for my fellow Fijians.

And so I find myself where I started, uncertain about where I should stand. My condition is a symptom of the dearth of leadership in Fiji.

If I had a choice, I would not choose Bainimarama. But someone needs to stand up to give me that alternative.

  • The views expressed in this article do not not necessarily represent the views of Fiji Uncensored.

Community radio group pushes for free media

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 09:58
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NEWS

OPPOSITION to the regime’s 30-day state of emergency continues to build, with the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters expressing concern for the deteriorating political situation.

AMARC’s vice-president for the Asia-Pacific region Ashish Sen said that the worsening situation in Fiji coupled with widespread media censorship and harassment of journalists had seriously jeopardised the functioning of free media in Fiji

Sen praised the continued operation of women’s community radio broadcasts pioneered by AMARC member femLINKPACIFIC. “We view the work being carried out by femLINKPACIFIC as an important step towards empowerment of the Fijian society and leading towards reconciliation and harmony.

“I call upon the Fijian authorities to recognize community radio as a distinct sector of communications and to support its inherent capacity to promote peace by enabling women and other marginalised groups to participate in conflict prevention, conflict resolution and peace building,” he said.

AMARC said it had taken serious note of the limits on media access and freedom of speech, and the disregard for judicial independence in the Fiji Islands.

Fiji’s 30-day state of emergency began on April 10. fiji uncensored

April 27, 2009

Lessons in compromise

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 15:35

READER’S VIEW

by vijay

COUP No.1 in 1987 took place just as I was finishing university. So my career started with a government of questionable credibility.

It did not take long for me to realise that the old adage “if you live by the sword, you will die by the sword” was going to be so true for Fiji. Thus my reason for leaving Fiji’s shores after the 2000 coup.

Enough was enough. But I have never stopped caring.

All the talk about democracy and restoration of constitutional rule to me is practically useless.  Have you heard of the term “toothless tiger”? Well, that is how powerful democracy or a democratic constitution is.

We have to be stupid not to have learnt about this in the Fiji context following events of the last 22 years as May 14 approaches.

Fiji’s population is too small for a legitimate democratic process to work. The number of people needed to be influenced into any way of thinking is too small.

The reason democracy works in Australia, USA, and India, for example, is:

  1. The population is too large for any on person or groups of persons to negatively or conveniently influence; and
  2. There are two levels of governence in these countries, Federal and State.

In Fiji, any loudmouth can stand up to speak and be heard by everybody because we are living in such a confined space. In larger countries, people do not have the time to listen to everybody’s rubbish.

We are at an unfortunate point in our country where trying to rejuvinate a dead constitution and a sick democracy is like giving hope of life to a cancer sufferer.

In medical circles we would call this the point of palliative care where heroism is not encouraged.

Australia and New Zealand, and even the UN, are pushing Fiji to return to democracy, but in truth, we never had a democracy the way it is known in the Western world.

The question is, what form of democracy does the rest of the world want to see in Fiji? And, more importantly, who is going to create that sort of utopia in Fiji?

The truth is, try as much as we may, there will never be democracy in this country.

Even if we did enforce a constitution that appears balanced in favour of all ethnic groups at gunpoint, will this be called legitimate, and what happens when there is a change of guard? (Messers Bainimarama et al have yet to be granted boon of eternity).

I like the word compromise, because that is the real solution to every problem everywhere that is truly permenant. I for one don’t like to talk in terms of problems, but in terms of solution.

I would like readers to carefully consider what I am proposing. If this does not look promising, shelve it, but don’t shun it.

If you have any brighter ones, you are welcome to have your turn first, but please have keep my suggestions in reserve:

  • First and immediate problem is economic depression. In simple terms, we need mouths to be fed. Some point out that we import most of our food. The reason for this is we are too lazy to grow our own. Fiji has such a blessed climate that you don’t need to sow. Just throw your seeds and they will grow. Don’t argue the land angle, because for a population of barely three-quarters of a million and there is still plenty land.
    My argument is that if you can justify stealing to feed yourself, which we will shortly,  if not already , be resorting to. Why can’t you just till the land, regardless of who it belongs to? Just grow so much that there is a glut of food. Once there is abundance of food, we can probably think more clearly.
  • Two, for any country we need to have some sort of an operating authority. At present, there is an illegitimate government which is facing reprimand from external powers to be. This is where the magic of compromise or bargaining appears to be most appropriate.

I think that if Australia, NZ and the UN are serious about helping Fji, they should stop forcing the Commodore’s hand at restoring democracy.

In exchange to continued and even enhanced aid/assistance, they should ask for a hand in putting an interim government in place comprising of credible individuals nominated jointly by Australia, NZ and UN.

There are plenty of decent, capable, qualified current and former Fiji nationals that I known who will put their lives on line for Fiji.

Mr Amraiya Naidu for instance, Mr Wadan Narsey and Prof Brij Lal, to name a few.

I think Mr Bainimarama is a reasonable man, it being a different issue that he sometimes appears to have trouble conveying his thoughts into words, much the same as most of my Fijian friends, often at the risk of sounding arrogant at the best and stupid at the worst.

One thing I have learnt from my Fijian friends is what can be achieved by winning their confidence, cannot be done by threatening them.

These suggestions appear so simple that I know I risk sounding hopelessly moronic, but read it over a few times and have a long think.

I welcome any comments and criticisms, but please, think in terms of solutions and not problems.

  • The views expressed in this article do not not necessarily represent the views of Fiji Uncensored.

Army sends out PR teams to counter talk of revolt

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 13:13
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NEWS

  • To protect the identity of our correspondents, this story cannot be verified with authorities

FRANK Bainimarama’s military in Fiji is on a public relations offensive, sending troops into potential hot spots.

Fiji Uncensored has learned that for the past week, teams of government officers and soldiers have been visiting villages in the provinces of Naitasiri and Tailevu.

These visits have been labelled “PR exercises”, where villagers are urged to respect the law and continue with their normal village activities.

Heading the initiative is Mosese Tikoitoga, the Commissioner Central who is based in Nausori, a town outside the capital Suva.

Tikoitoga is a colonel in the Fiji Military Forces and was appointed to the position by his commander and prime minister Frank Bainimarama.

These visits only began after President Ratu Josefa Iloilo was purported to have abolished the Fiji Constitution on Good Friday, April 10.

Fiji Uncensored has been told that among villages already visited by the soldiers were Delaidamanu in Naitasiri and Naibulini in Wainibuka on the Kings Road.

Most of the supporters of George Speight, the face of the 2000 coup, came from these areass.

Fiji Uncensored has also been told that in targeting these regions, the regime clearly wants to extinguish any talk of a public revolt against Bainimarama and his government.

The last time Bainimarama sent out his military public relations teams was in the lead-up to the May 2006 elections in which soldiers urged voters not to re-elect then Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase. fiji uncensored

April 26, 2009

Click here if you care

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 15:07
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TO all our readers, yes including the three regime censors, please take the time to sign this petition which has been organised by the Pacific Freedom Forum in support of free speech in Fiji.

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day and it would be a nice gesture.

It would also make us feel a little better knowing that people care about what is happening to us.

So click here if you care, and if you are from Fiji, click here if you dare. On second thoughts, perhaps Fiji readers should just let this slide for now.

NZ writers condemn censorship

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 14:29
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NEWS

IF this won’t send shivers down the spine of the regime, it should at least hearten all members of the muzzled media.

(See? Journalists aren’t the only ones who know how to string together an alliterative phrase or two.)

The New Zealand Society of Authors “(incorporating PEN New Zealand)” has condemned the censorship of the media in Fiji.

Okay, their condemnation was made almost a week ago in a press release, but Fiji Uncensored in typically Fijian time, did not learn about it until today, no thanks to our readers – all five of you – who may have come across it earlier.

“We are distressed that such conditions can exist in our region of the world (or, indeed, anywhere),” the statement says.

“The repression of the media following the reappointment of Frank Bainimarana, despite the illegality of the regime being determined by the courts, is so severe that it is feared that even Fiji’s citizens simply do not know what is going on.”

The statement quotes Article 19 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “which establishes the principle that freedom of expression is an integral part of a global community working for the collective good of all peoples”.

“PEN New Zealand is an active supporter of freedom of speech and advocate for Article 19 which states that ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’

“As friends of all people in Fiji and as protectors, where possible, of the right of free speech, we call on Fiji as an active member of the United Nations to give credence to the Charter and human rights it supports and for the Fijian government to end its repression of the normal need of people to express their views in a peaceful and public manner, and to restore true democracy to their country.”

April 25, 2009

Cosgrove says crisis ‘regrettable’

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 23:14
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NEWS

FORMER Chief of the Australian Defence Force, retired General Peter Cosgrove says the crackdown on civil rights in Fiji is “regrettable”.

In a brief interview on Australia-based  SBS television channel to commemorate Anzac Day, Cosgrove said creating a condition of safety and calm to allow the return of governance would be the first step back to democracy.

“In many countries which have some level of disorder, returning to normalcy and to representative democracy is a long road.

“What happens in places like Fiji, that’s very regrettable,” he said.

“You would be itching to say to ordinary Fijians, ‘but you deserve to have a free press, and you deserve to have a neutral and very objective and active Judiciary’. When they can’t have that you worry.”

But Cosgrove, who also commanded a multi-national peacekeeping mission to East Timor in 1999, said he was heartened to see how much better places like Solomon Islands and Bouganville had become after international intervention. fiji uncensored

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