Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Rumblings of Civil Unrest

TVNZ Online/Pacific Media Watch:
There are warnings of civil unrest in Fiji amid a climate of censorship and intimidation of people who dare to challenge the unelected government.

The Pacific nation is effectively under martial law after Frank Bainimarama dumped the constitution and the judiciary and delayed elections for five years.

Fiji's political crisis doesn't make local headlines - in fact it is not in the paper at all.

There is no space for speaking up and people have to be prepared for
the consequences.

Following comments he has made, Dorsami Naidu of the Fiji Law Society
says he has been contacted by the military, "asking me to come to the
camp and they haven't given me any reasons so I refuse to go."

Unsanctioned comments can cost people two years of their freedom and
while intimidation hasn't stopped Naidu, many others are too scared to
speak up.

Under the military rule in Fiji it is illegal to hold a meeting. If it
involves the media or the conversation is about politics people have
to apply for a permit.

To avoid censorship, ONE News broke the rules and met with Fijians in

One woman wished to remain anonymous due to feared repercussions of speaking up. "I do have fear, I do have anxiety about what they will do to me. I do not believe to be silent is the way out of it," she says. She supports a speedy return to democracy. "The president has clearly committed treason in our view," she says.

And talking of Bainimarama: "We think he is arrogant, we think he is power hungry. In our view he is very dangerous." The chance to voice her true opinion brought her to tears. She said she feels suffocated and oppressed and believes the only place the current regime is driving her country, is down. She fears more civil strife.

"I am hoping that we will remain focused that there is one common enemy and that is the military and their leaders."

Naidu also has concerns about stability. "It is very unstable though there appears to be a calm. It is a non-functional society," he says. Naidu believes the way out of the mess his country is in is to is appeal to some within the government who may secretly doubt Bainimarama's master plan. Everyone has a conscience and these guys are very concerned otherwise they wouldn't be closing down the media."

Others are urging New Zealand tourists to stay away to starve the government of tax dollars, saying it is a necessary sacrifice and one they hope will bring the people of Fiji swiftly back to the ballot box.

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