May 12, 2009

No cause is greater than justice

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 21:06
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EQUITABLE justice – justice that is fair, unbiased, impartial – was one of the reasons Voreqe Bainimarama used to justify his removal of Laisenia Qarase’s Government.

Those who had a hand in the 2000 coup and the subsequent mutinies at Queen Elizabeth and Sukanaivalu barracks had to face the full force of the law.

Instead he watched enraged as rebel soldiers were, in his view, given sentences that were too short, and convicted civilians were let out of prison under Compulsory Supervision Orders.

Others who were a visible part of the events in Parliament after May 19, were given a senatorial position here and a diplomatic posting there, rewarded, he thought, for their role in bringing down Mahendra Chaudhry’s Labour-led Government.

Failure to ensure that the sentence suited the crime would lead to a nation of criminals. That’s what Bainimarama said in interviews in 2003-04.

But here we are in 2009, two and a bit years after he decided that the only way to end the country’s coup culture was, paradoxically, to carry out another coup.

And here we are witnessing his regime hire criminals for the police force, re-hire murderers, and release convicted killers on, there’s that legal term again, Compulsory Supervision Orders.

There is just so much else that is wrong with everything that has happened since 2006.

Perhaps Fiji does need to move away from its race-based electoral system (another of Bainimarama’s pretexts), and perhaps as a country we should be mature enough not to let race be an issue when we pick our leaders.

And yes, people need to realise that to move forward we have to stop relying on government handouts and go out there and work as hard as everybody else.

But you need to give people the chance to discuss these issues and decide for themselves if that is where their future lies  – change by the ballot, not the bullet.

If his cause is as righteous as he claims it is, Bainimarama can ill afford to continue on his unjust route.

You can’t take people into custody and return them home in body bags. Neither should such actions by any member of society be excusable because the “cause is greater”.

There is no justice in that.

But however beneficial you think your ideas will be, you cannot force these concepts down the throats of the people.

You’ll only end up with someone else’s breakfast, or worse – blood, all over your hands. – fiji uncensored


Regime leaders not welcome at Japan meeting


JAPAN’S Ambassador to Fiji Yutaka Yoshisawa has told Radio New Zealand International that Fiji will not be represented at the political level at the Pacific Alliance Leaders’ Meeting in Hokkaido next week.

Yoshisawa said Japan decided not to invite Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama or members of his Cabinet to the PALM meeting, because of what he referred to as the recent developments surrounding Fiji.

Earlier this month the Pacific Islands Forum, which is organising the PALM meeting in conjunction with Japan, suspended Fiji over its refusal to hold elections this year.

Yoshisawa said he still hoped that Fiji would send lower ranked officials.

“Fiji is a very important country in the Pacific region, and as PALM Five is the forum for introductions between Japan and the Pacific countries or the PF [Pacific Islands Forum] countries, we very much hope that Fiji will be able to come at a non -political level,” he told RNZI.

Yoshisawa said they were waiting for Fiji to decide whether it would send anyone.  – fiji uncensored

Journalists’ forum calls for end to harassment

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 14:55
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THE military regime in Fiji must immediately stop the harassment and intimidation of journalists and salvage any credibility it can by lifting censorship sanctions aimed at making Fiji’s media the information arm of the military, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.

“We note the recent safe release from custody after 48 hours in detention for our media colleagues Dionisia Tabureguci and Shelvin Chand, but we must accept the reality that under the current regime, more journalists will continue to be taken into custody on any pretext,” says Susuve Laumaea of Papua New Guinea.

Laumaea and American Samoa’s Monica Miller co-chair the PFF, an online network of journalists and supporters, and regional media watchdog.

“The PFF will not relent from crying foul over this continued harassment and intimidation of journalists in Fiji until we see the restoration of media freedom in Fiji, which may now only be possible when the current regime is out of the picture.

“If the military with all their guns and soldiers is so confident it speaks for the people, it should leave the media alone and just as confidently set up its own publishing outlets and use them to peddle what it deems fit to be said,” says the PFF chair.

Commenting on the original report which had led to Taburegeci, a former Islands Business journalist, and Chand being taken into custody as “political prisoners” for two days, Laumaea said it was a “a very sad day for the Pacific when eight soldiers and a policeman, holding positions of public trust, convicted of manslaughter – and therefore criminals – are freed, while scribes charged with ensuring that justice is seen to be done are treated as suspects”.

“The blatant abuse of human rights and the rule of law, especially in jailing journalists without charge for so called interviews, must be put on the priority list for renewed condemnation by Pacific nations and organisations,” says PFF co-chair Monica Miller.

“There are many facts which make this situation so ridiculous it ceases to be funny,” says the PFF co-chair, “but the main fact is this – Fiji’s treatment of its journalists who are on the front line of human rights abuse, are showing up the ‘guilty silence’ from some regional leaders and organisations, and pose an indictment on the so called vision of the ‘Pacific Plan’.”

“Many of the leaders we are making a plea to have in fact been interviewed by Dionisia during her media coverage at regional meetings,” says Miller. “We have said this in the past, and we are saying it again.

“We are repeating our call on Pacific leaders and organisations to break the silence over abuses of media workers and NGO activists in Fiji, and, in whatever language and engagement they work in, remind them of the commitments and rules they work under.

“The censorship and intimidation of Fiji’s journalists brings shame to Fiji’s regime, but the  ongoing silence from regional organisations that have had contact with Fijian media as part of their own advocacy work is a regional disgrace.” – fiji uncensored

Democracy movement pushes for change in military

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 13:40
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ALTHOUGH the Republic of Fiji Military Forces has played a role in all of the country’s coups and is behind the current crisis, Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement president Usaia Waqatairewa does not believe it should be demobilised.

But Waqatairewa said there was a need for wholesale cultural changes to remove the culture of coups that has built up in the minds of soldiers.

“One thing I have noticed is that soldiers recruited during Bainimarama’s time, especially the officer corp, tend to be more vicious and anti-Fijian than those who have been there before the 1987 coup.

“I think we should re-educate the soldiers and restore professionalism and values such as those of being an officer and a gentleman in the officer corp,” he said.

“We must also remove the existing culture where the military thinks it is the master of the universe, has a monopoly on brain power, and knows what is right for Fiji.”

Waqatairewa said there was a need to restore professionalism and teach the military forces to be loyal to the State and to be answerable to Fiji’s elected leaders, be apolitical and serve the government of the day.

“Those who cannot do this should resign immediately.”

Waqatairewa said the military should be transformed from a fighting force into an engineering force focussed on national development schemes. “A garrison force should be maintained at pre-1978 UNIFIL manning level.

“As mentioned previously, soldiers have families to look after and mortgages to service so the idea of disbanding should not be entertained but manpower resources should be diverted elsewhere in nation-building,” he said. – fiji uncensored

Youth network welcomes Maori Party delegation

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 11:30
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THE Young People’s Concerned Network is urging the leaders of the Maori Party to send a delegation to speak with Fiji citizens on all issues affecting them.

YPCN acting president Peter Waqavonovono said the network welcomed any dialogue into Fiji’s constitutional and political dilemma.

“The YPCN has made an array of requests to the party [leadership], the most substantial is an argument for a youth representative team and making note of a further invitation to the Young Maori Party.”

The Maori Party is led by Pita Sharples and Tariana Turia. Its president is Whatarangi Winiata.

Waqavonovono said there had to be youth representatives included in the delegation to engage with youth activists and groups like YPCN.

He said 60 percent of Fiji’s population was between the ages of 15 and 29, a considerably large youth population, but it was also the most marginalised and disengaged section of the country’s population.

“Therefore, most social issues have become almost youth related. It is imperative that any fact-finding missions or dialogue processes have to be youth-inclusive and sensitive.”

Waqavovovono said he was unsure if they would be allowed to speak to Maori Party officials when they arrive because of Public Emergency Regulations. – fiji uncensored

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