fiji UNCENSORED

June 5, 2009

The Bukshi Street 18: From homemade terrorist to acting PM

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 13:33
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OPINION

FOR someone who masterminded and single-handedly devised homemade bombs with the aim of blowing up several public buildings in Suva at the height of the 1987 coup, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has done well for himself.

Really, from a home-grown terrorist to acting Prime Minister of Fiji this month, Khaiyum has achieved what many can only dream of.

When then Lieutenant-Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka walked into Fiji’s old parliament chamber at 10am on May 14, 1987 to hold Prime Minister Dr Timoci Bavadra and his cabinet ministers hostage, Khaiyum was poised for a promising career in television.

He was then a trainee television producer, with Carol Jalal at the Kerry Packer Channel Nine-owned Television Fiji office on Gordon Street.

The guy, son of a National Federation Party politician was full of hope. After training in Australia in acting and drama, a career in television had just opened up. The sky, it seemed, would be the limit for this young man.

Alas, fate had something else in store for him when Rabuka staged his coup that fateful Friday.

Little is known about how Khaiyum learnt the trade of bomb making. But he devised them in a little shed at his family home, then located at 10 Bakshi Street, off Moti Street in Suva.

Yes, that family house was later sold and the Khaiyums moved to their new home at 40 Lovoni Road in Tamavua. You can’t miss the new house now – it’s where the police tent is erected.

And guess who is the current occupant and owner of 10 Bakshi Street? None other than Dr Neil Sharma, Bainimarama’s Health Minister.

Small world, isn’t it.

However the young Khaiyum learnt how to devise home-made explosives, he was able to produce a carton full. And in no time, bomb runners were recruited; all young educated Indo-Fijians, and all studying that year at the Laucala Campus of the University of the South Pacific.

This information is by the way all public knowledge. Just ask Esala Teleni’s latest stooge Waisea Tabakau about the 18 students of the USP who were arrested for bomb-related charges in 1987.

Or perhaps your query would be promptly answered by Bainimarama’s yes-man, Pita Driti.

As a second-lieutenant then, he was head of the joint command centre and played a big role in the arrest and assault of the 18 students.

Interestingly of the 18, only one was a young woman. She is today the sister in law of none other than the bomb-maker Khaiyum.

Of the group, only two were charged and made to appear in court. Charges ranged from being in possession of explosives and of planning to cause grievous harm through the use of such explosives.

The two men were released six months into custody after they were both granted amnesty.

What happened to the Bakshi Street terrorist?

Well, he made a dash for freedom to Australia. After recruiting and training his runners, he abandoned them when the army came snooping and fled with his tail under his legs. Showing the callous streak in him, he had removed the carton of explosives from his home and asked an old lady, a mother of a friend, to keep it for him.

To save face, Khaiyum returned some months later and got the honour of being arrested during the first anniversary of Rabuka’s coup on May 14, 1988.

He had joined the real champions of democracy when they staged a silent protest at Sukuna Park that day, and all ended up at the Central Police Station.

So from a home-grown terrorist to acting Prime Minister, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has come full circle. Or has he? – fiji uncensored

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Forum ready to help if Fiji shows sincerity

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 13:19
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NEWS

THE secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum Tuiloma Neroni Slade says although the forum leaders’ unprecedented decision to suspend Fiji from the regional bloc was a united and unanimous one, forum countries stood ready to help Fiji.

“Despite increasingly deep concerns at the negative and wide-ranging impacts of events over the past two and a half years on the people of Fiji, and since the events of April this year, forum leaders have continued to express hope and encouragement for Fiji’s earliest possible return to constitutional democracy through free and fair elections.”

Slade, who was speaking at the Forum Regional Security Meeting in Suva yesterday, said the welfare of the region was inextricably tied up with the welfare of Fiji and the situation there remained a great concern for forum leaders.

“But the present situation in Fiji involves clear disregard of the core values of democracy, good governance and the rule of law recognised by all forum members, as well as the vast majority of the international community, as crucial to the future peace and prosperity of the Pacific Forum region.”

He said contemporary security issues in the Pacific had also become more challenging and told the meeting there was a need for innovative approaches if the goal of a peaceful, secure and prosperous Pacific was to be attained. – fiji uncensored

Democracy movement takes cause to Canberra

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 01:54
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PRESS RELEASE

THE Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement is counting down the last few hours before our protest and freedom rally at the front lawn of Parliament House in Canberra [today], the first at the national capital.

Coachloads of protestors from Sydney will join our counterparts from the Riverina and Australian Capital Territory to peacefully protest and deliver petitions to the Fiji High Commission, the Indian High Commission, the Korean Embassy and the Chinese Embassy.

We will then rally at the front lawn of Parliament House and deliver a petition to an official of the Australian House of Representatives.

The movement has been informed that the Acting High Commissioner, Kamlesh Arya, has indicated his refusal to receive our petition but advised that we can leave it in the chancellory letterbox.

This is not surprising to the movement given that we do not even know  who he represents because the Fiji courts had previously declared the Government he purports to represent as illegal. Neither do we recognise his appointment.

But then again, he represents a bunch of illegal usurpers and treasonous individuals who have trashed the laws and rights of the people of Fiji.

The movement also plans to hand over petitions to His Excellency the ambassador of the Republic of Korea, urging his government to adopt the travel ban on the illegal regime, coup sympathisers and beneficiaries adopted by Australia, New Zealand and the United States.

The demonstration will then move on to the Indian High Commission and the Chinese Embassy to demonstrate and deliver petitions calling for the end of their support for the illegal regime governing Fiji.

The movement is of the view that it is very hypocritical of the Indian Government that while it prides itself as the world’s largest democracy and has just completed a peaceful general election, it then continues unashamedly to aid and abet a totalitarian Fiji military dictatorship.

The movement condemns the actions of the People’s Republic of China, a country that has in the past demonstrated a tendency to sign new trade deals and work with rogue regimes that face economic sanctions from other countries. For example, the Chinese have traded extensively with Sudan, despite the civil war in Dafur and sanctions imposed by Europe and the United States.

Likewise, they have selfishly moved in on Fiji and have quickly filled the void left with the withdrawal of aid by the EU, Australia and New Zealand in reaction to the December 2006 coup.

Usaia Waqatairewa,
President,
Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement

June 4, 2009

At the mercy of international self-interest

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 11:22
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READER’S VIEW

by small chief

THE lack of political resolve in the international community and the Bainimarama regime’s ability to receive support from alternative countries will sabotage efforts to speed up a return to democracy.

The past few weeks have exposed chinks in New Zealand’s hardline stance against the regime. First it was the discreet removal of sporting sanctions. This week it was Reserve Bank of Fiji Governor Sada Reddy strolling unrestricted past NZ Immigration officers.

NZ did not remove those sporting sanctions out of empathy for Fiji’s sportsmen and women. No, it removed them because at the end of the day NZ voters are avid rugby supporters and John Key’s Government did not want to put them offside by ruining the Junior All Blacks’ chances in the Pacific Cup.

Legally, Sada Reddy also has every right to waltz in and out of NZ whenever he feels like it. But stopping that would require changes to the law.

Key said he was unwilling to take that step because it would be an unpopular decision. Among voters, I might add.

I would rather see NZ take a stance and stick to it. Either oppose the regime or, as much as I dislike saying this, support it. Don’t take a halfway position because it is only shooting itself in the foot.

Then yesterday Fiji also found support from Malaysia with the deputy director of the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Malaysia’s version of FTIB) urging companies there to take advantage of Fiji’s strategic location to gain market access to Pacific Islands.

India and China remain regime supporters. Malaysia just widens that support base.

Which brings me to the main point of this report: That when it suits them, overseas countries will put their interest before ours. That’s the way it is and nothing will change that.

Like New Zealand, it can say all it wants about putting as much pressure as it can on the regime, except when it will politically hurt those in power.

And Malaysia, it cares little about Fiji and even less about democracy but they see an opportunity for their companies to make money in the Pacific via Fiji.

Businesses are willing to look past Fiji’s democratic shortcomings. If there is a buck to be made, they will make it. Again, that’s the way it is and nothing will change it.

So our dreams of a speedy return to democracy and the restoration of the 1997 Constitution remain at the whim of the international community.

That’s the way it is and nothing will change that. – fiji uncensored

  • The views expressed in this article do not not necessarily represent the views of Fiji Uncensored. Opinion pieces are welcome, no matter which side of the fence you are on. Email fijiuncensored@hush.com.

June 2, 2009

When polls approach, Eni publicity is good publicity

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 12:16

LETTER

I WAS fascinated when American Samoa’s delegate to the United States House of Representatives recently began making comments about Fiji.

Apart from vague memories of an interview Eni Faleomavaega had with the Fiji Times in 2007, he wasn’t someone I would think of if I had to compile a list of foreign politicians with an interest in Fiji.

If it wasn’t for his unusual surname, I probably would not have remembered the question-and-answer piece the Fiji Times did with him.

His only other comments which stand out in my memory were the ones he made in 2001, possibly in The Daily Post, when he called for US military intervention in Fiji.

But today he is peddling himself as Fiji’s only friend in the region.

Despite his recent enthusiasm for the Fiji issue, I was not buying his pseudo-interest in our affairs. He has, after all, been a US Congressman since 1989.

It got me thinking: What could possibly be behind his clamorous concern?

I think I have an answer.

Since 2000 Faleomavaega has been making regular remarks on Fiji – about once every two years. Curiously, this matches the schedule of the US House of Representatives elections.

Eni Sceptic,
Fiji

Youth lobby wants junta to reinstate 1997 Constitution

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 11:49
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PRESS RELEASE

THERE is an increasing need for Fiji’s current interim junta to take Fiji back to a more appropriate democracy under the confines of the 1997 Constitution.

The people of Fiji have no direct channel to voice their grievances after the heavy censoring of our media, the restrictions of our Judiciary and Fiji Human Rights Commission in acknowledging the existence of the 1997 Constitution and facilitating human rights recourse, that surround the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution or the current leadership styles exercised in Fiji today.

New decrees and state appointments have been made without public consultation and further block public opposition to these actions.

“Why than do they claim that they serve the people of Fiji and that they respect human rights, when the most common civil courtesies are neglected and redress denied” says YPCN president Peter Waqavonovono.

“Forcing people of Fiji to accept decisions without question is a return to pre-colonial times, these are very different time, and the people of Fiji are educated enough to know that they have the right to have a say in the running of their nation,” he says.

The network sees what is happening in Fiji currently as the de-democratisation of our nation.

We ask that the Interim Government consider dropping all decrees and state appointments and return Fiji under the 1997 Constitution. Allow for the rule of law to take its course and all facets of the state return to pre-Easter state administrations.

In this light the President under the 1997 Constitution can elect a new interim administration and take Fiji to economic recovery and parliamentary elections.

“Right now, what is needed is patience and peaceful reflections on what have happened in Fiji so far. We have work within the law and under the god given citizen rights of the people of Fiji. In the end, the common Fiji citizens are the people you hurt and block from exercising the responsibilities or rights,” Waqavonovono adds.

The YPCN reaffirms that it will support any moves and be part of any restorative programs if done so under the 1997 Constitution, even a blanket pardon for civic crimes can be considered but cases of human rights abuses and murder be exempt.

“The youth of Fiji are suffering from measures taken by the international community in response to the interim administrations non compliance with democratic principles and than there are very sad economic and social repercussions that are forcing youths to commit suicide and engage in troublesome activities like crime, substance abuse and loitering due to low self esteems.

“We need our leaders to be responsible and take us back to a parliamentary democracy,” says Waqavonovono.  – fiji uncensored

June 1, 2009

Australia’s Uniting Church stands by Fiji brethren

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 19:50
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PRESS RELEASE

THE Uniting Church in Australia has today expressed grave concern for its partner church, the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma.

Uniting Church president, Rev Gregor Henderson, said he is distressed that the Fijian military and police have been intimidating Methodist Church ministers, and have announced the Government will prohibit the church from holding its annual conference in August.

“The Uniting Church in Australia stands in solidarity with the Methodist Church in Fiji and Rotuma and finds the Government banning of a church conference entirely unacceptable,” Rev Henderson said.

“The ban represents a major interference of the state in the operations of the church and seriously compromises the principle of freedom of religion, which was enshrined in the 1997 Constitution of Fiji.”

The Uniting Church has today written to the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and to its 11 Pacific church partners inviting them to make representation to the Fijian Government to lift the ban on the Methodist annual conference.

Rev. Dr Kerry Enright, national director UnitingWorld, said the Methodist Church was concerned for the economic hardship, increasing poverty and loss of freedoms currently being experienced by Fijians, and was trying to make a positive contribution to the future of the nation.

“We are in regular communication with the Methodist Church leadership who are committed to a peaceful solution and have been unrelenting in their attempts to dialogue with the Government.

The attitude and actions by the Fijian gGvernment towards the Methodist Church are being experienced by many other institutions including the media, non-government organisations, the Judiciary and lawyers.

“We plead with the Fiji Government to immediately restore basic human rights, including freedom of assembly and freedom of the press,” Rev Enright said.

“In the interests of peace and justice, the Methodist Church of Fiji and Rotuma must be allowed to hold its annual meeting without government interference.”

The Methodist Church is the largest Fijian denomination with 36 per cent  of the Fijian population and 62 per cent of the total Christian community. – fiji uncensored

Convenient Fijians

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 11:41

LETTER

A PHENOMENON which delighted me as much as bamboo splinters under the fingernails was the post-2000 coup proliferation of what I term the Convenient Fijian.

One who we are all familiar with is the current Prime Minister, who until the 2000 coup, was happy to be known as Frank. As the fever of nationalism spread, Frank became Voreqe and at one stage Ratu Voreqe.

Nine years on, most media reports have gone back to calling him Frank, although official government press releases still toe the Voreqe line.

But the PM is in illustrious company: There is that one-time propagator of pyramid schemes, George Speight, who so overcome by the fervour at Veiuto, morphed into Ilikimi Naitini.

There is also this letter writer, who took to wearing a sulu the day after Suva rioted and burned in 2000.

I haven’t stopped.

Sulu Hypocrite,
Suva

May 30, 2009

Regime honour for ‘G20, Fiji’ headline

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 13:11

SPOOF

FIJI’S military regime is praising a foreign online subeditor’s decision to put G20 and Fiji in the same headline.

Regime spokesman Left-Right Lewena said it was indeed a great honour for Fiji to be put on the same pedsetal, pedetsal, I mean stage, as such an important group as the G20.

“It is indeed an honour for Fiji to be put of the same pedsetal, pedetsal, I mean stage, as such an important group as the G20,” Lewena said.

“It is an honour because it is not often that a country as small as ours receives this type of allocade, alcoclade, I mean praise.

“What makes this award even more special is the fact that the headline appeared in the online version of a Kwiwi, Kwikwi, I mean, a New Zealand newspaper called the New Zealand Herald,” Lewena said.

“New Zealand, as you are well aware, has been a big critic of the [Fiji] Government. But this headline proves to [Prime Minister John] Key and them that there are actually people from that country who refuse to toe the official government line.

“That might come as a surprise to them but that is the truth.”

He said the regime was doing all it could to find the identity of the headline-writer so he could be bestowed with the newly created Distinguished Idealists’ Salutary Order award. There were also plans to give the clever glorified manual spellchecker an honorary Ratu title.

But regime opponents, being the quick-witted nonconformists that they are, have been err, quick to denounce the award, especially Lewena’s gender-specific reference to the subeditor and the suggestion that only a male would think of putting G20 and Fiji in the same sentence.

“What if the subeditor was actually female?” well-know dissenter Ray Jimi Kirtic said. “Would she not qualify for the DIS Order medal? And how would she actually feel if she was called ‘Ratu’?”

Adding weight to this criticism is the fact that the article was not full of praise but scathing of Fiji and several members of the G20 for their human rights violations.

“It probably means that Lewena did not understand what he was actually reading,” Kirtic said. “That’s not a surprise and is actually typical of the regime’s tendency to inaccurately begin reading from the wrong side of the page.

“Unfortunately for Lewena, he did not actually decipher the rest of the headline which actually said ‘Human rights report attacks Fiji, G20’,” Kirtic said.

Lewena remained dismissive though, accusing critics like Kirtic of overusing the adverb “actually” and being “hypercritical”. “See, I can use big words too. But the fact is Fiji is in elite company. How many countries can claim to epitomise whatever this report was about?

“Come on, how many? I only have these many fingers so I can’t count any higher.”

A non-gender specific representative of Fiji Uncensored said the website was also hoping to receive a DIS Order and a traditional honorary title because it too had managed to cleverly use Fiji and G20 in its headline, although not necessarily in that order so as not to confuse Lewena. – fiji uncensored

May 29, 2009

Fiji’s junta judges

Filed under: General — fijiuncensored @ 14:09
Tags: ,

OPINION

by Chris Merritt, The Australian

FEAR and loathing are reaching impressive new heights in Fiji after the most recent manoeuvres by that country’s dictatorship.

By stripping the Fiji Law Society of the right to issue practising certificates, the military government has all the tools it needs to embark on a purge of that country’s lawyers.

From the perspective of military strongman Frank Bainimarama, such a move would have a nice touch of symmetry.

The stunning reappointment of Anthony Gates as the dictatorship’s chief justice indicates that it is quite prepared to engage in a purge of the judiciary.

After sacking the entire judiciary, Bainimarama is now reappointing only those who are in the regime’s good books.

So why wouldn’t the regime engage in a similar move against lawyers?

Fiji is, after all, crawling with lawyers who are none too pleased about what the military is doing to their country.

But before jumping to conclusions, it is worth focusing on the man who must take responsibility for these moves: attorney-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Those who know him say he is unlikely to be attracted to such a blunt method of achieving his goals. He sees himself as a far more subtle operator.

So instead of engaging in a purge, Sayed-Khaiyum might be hoping to achieve the same goal by other means.

A credible threat of a purge might be all he needs in order to encourage Fiji’s lawyers to toe the line. In many ways, this would be even more insidious than a purge.

If the regime’s goal is to intimidate the Law Society and its members, the heavy-handed weekend raid on the Law Society’s offices begins to make sense.

With burglar alarms screaming, the regime’s foot soldiers entered the Law Society’s offices on Saturday and removed every complaint file they could find about Law Society members. The burglar alarms were entirely appropriate.

While the attorney-general’s tactics are worth watching, the most startling move was by Gates. By signing on with the dictators last Friday, Gates has removed all doubt about where he stands and has played into the hands of his critics.

You can almost hear the staff of the International Bar Association in London shaking their heads as they mumble “we told you so”.

Gates featured prominently in an IBA report that had criticised the rule of law after the 2006 coup. That report, in turn, has itself been criticised.

Before the events of April 10, when the constitution was abrogated, Gates and the other judges who took office after the 2006 coup could at least argue that they held office under the constitution.

Their sacking in April prompted widespread sympathy and expressions of concern from the Australian Bar Association — an organisation that had previously warned of the risks of accepting judicial appointments in Fiji.

Because of the unconstitutional actions of the regime between the 2006 coup that brought Bainimarama to power and April 10, that argument had a few difficulties. But after April 10, it’s impossible.

What happened on Good Friday was not quite a coup, but it marked a major departure from the previous order.

It presented Fiji’s judges with a choice and it’s revealing to see how they have responded.

Thomas Hickie, who was also criticised in the IBA report, was one of the three Court of Appeal judges who precipitated the Good Friday upheaval by ruling that the Bainimarama regime held office illegally.

Hickie is back in Australia and will not accept office under the current arrangements.

Before April 10 there were two types of judge in Fiji: those whose commissions pre-dated the 2006 coup and those who were disparagingly referred to by their critics as “junta judges”.

After April 10, the debate about whether it was proper to take office after the 2006 coup has been overtaken by a much more clear-cut and important argument.

Fiji’s judges still fall into two categories.

But the dividing line is now April 10 and the divisions within the judiciary are much sharper. Those who swear to uphold the decrees of a dictator might be maintaining a form of order but that falls a long way short of the rule of law.  – fiji uncensored

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