Hon. Toke Talagi MP
Chair Pacific Islands Forum
Private Mail Bag
Dear Honourable Talagi,
Uniform Travel Ban on Members and Supporters of Bainimarama’s Illegal Government
I refer to you statement as contained in the Forum Secretariat press release of the 2nd of May 2009 and also express my sorrow and disappointment at the suspension of my beloved country from the Pacific Islands Forum.
We refute claims by the illegal and totalitarian Bainimarama regime, that the rest of the forum island states were bullied by Australia and New Zealand into unanimously approving this stand. This outrageous claim patronises and insults the intellectual capability of Pacific Forum leaders, calling into question their ability to make their own decision and their countries sovereignty as independent states.
The blame lies squarely with Bainimarama and his non-performing advisers for their total rejection of, as you mentioned, (sic) fundamental forum obligations and core principles, as outlined in the Biketawa Declaration and other key guiding documents of the forum.
Commodore Bainimarama was given ample opportunity and time to adhere to the 1st of May deadline, yet failed to put in place a set timetable/roadmap to general election. Instead he thumped his nose at the forum and the global community as judged by the events that unfolded on Good Friday, April 10 2009.
Therefore, on behalf of the Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement, I call upon the Pacific Islands Forum and the leaders of its member states not to ease up but to increase pressure and actions on the Bainimarama dictatorship government illegally running Fiji today.
In particular, the Movement calls upon Pacific Islands Forum leaders to adopt the smart travel ban currently enforced by Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America. The ban is based on a list of names of people and their family that have been blacklisted for participating, aiding and abetting the illegal overthrow of the democratically elected SDL Party-led Coalition Government, on the 5th of December 2006, and for their continued support of Commodore Bainimarama’s leadership till today.
We have observed that the travel ban is one of the most effective smart sanction ever imposed on the Bainimarama regime. It has effectively curbed the regime’s ability to appoint talented professional people who would have propped up their administration and do their illegal bidding for them.
The level of hurt the travel ban has had on the Bainimarama regime could be gauged by their drastic action of expelling two New Zealand high Commissioners to Fiji since the 2006 Coup.
We also call upon the Pacific islands Forum to join the chorus of those calling for the United Nations to return all members of the Fiji military and police forces serving as UN peacekeepers in trouble spots around the world.
I wish to draw your attention to the fact that on the eve of the military coup in 2006, then UN Secretary General Kofi Anand had warned Commodore Bainimarama that he would return all Fijian peacekeepers serving in the UN if Bainimarama went ahead with his planned military putsch.
The Movement is of the view that the continued deployment of Fijian soldiers as UN Peacekeepers is one of the worse case of hypocrisy by the United Nations. The UN’s non action continuous to place some form of legitimacy to the actions of Commodore Bainimarama since December 2006.
While the Fiji military has maimed, tortured and even killed the very people they were supposed to be protecting, the United Nations have then taken the very same soldiers and deploy them to trouble spots across the world as highly paid peacekeepers.
The movement believe that returning Fijian soldiers home from UN deployment will result in soldiers having second thoughts about their allegiance and loyalty to Bainimarama and his core ring of treasonous officer corp. When the hip pocket is hit hard, the soldiers will start to wonder whether loyalty to Bainimarama is all worth it in the long run.
I now wish to draw your attention to what has transpired since the Fiji Appeal Court decision in the case of Qarase and Others v Bainimarama and Others on April 9, 2009. Our observation is that the situation have taken a turn for the worse with:
- The purported abrogation of the 1997 Constitution;
- The wholesale sacking of over 1500 civil servants without prior warning;
- The devaluation of the Fiji Dollar by 20 per cent;
- The non existence of the Judiciary since the 20th of April;
- The set-up of a Magistrates Court stacked with coup sympathisers;
- The claimed destruction and shredding of records in the court registry by a newly appointed military lawyer as the Court Registrar;
- The deployment of military officers in all media newsrooms to censor any news item they perceive as harmful to the regime;
- The systematic arrest and detainment without charge of people deemed enemies of the state under a very draconian Emergency Security Decree; and
- The dangerous collision course the military and the Methodist Church are headed given the recent detainment and release of a senior church official and the plan to ban the annual church conference as well as require that religious groups apply for permit to host religious gatherings and church service.
The Fiji cconomy is on a freefall and there are very strong rumours of another devaluation. The cane farmers are not harvesting their sugarcane while the European Union have again cancelled their planned aid for the sugar industry this year.
The other major foreign exchange earner, tourism, continuously fail to hit optimum occupancy level, even after the devaluation of the dollar. Then last week, Air Pacific announced it is experiencing major liquidity problem while the other major airline, Air Fiji has closed its doors indefinitely.
These are all alarm bells, indicating that Fiji is headed for a chaotic future with untold social and economic suffering for her people, and the Bainimarama dictatorship is largely to be blamed because of all their ill-conceived and thought out decisions and policies.
I am sure that you will agree with me that the forum needs to continue to take the lead role and immediately increase the pressure applied on the regime to force it onto the negotiation table.
I wish to end by reiterating the movement’s call for the Bainimarama regime to accept that the people of Fiji and their representatives must be part of the process of governing Fiji, that reforms proposed by Bainimarama cannot be achieved through threats and force, that criminal actions such as coups and treasonous actions cannot strengthen the rule of law, that accountability cannot be strengthened by arbitrary rule and that the longer they delay a general election, the worse Fiji’s problem will get.
I have the honour to be yours sincerely,
Usaia P. Waqatairewa,