Friday, May 25, 2007

Fiji: terrified

Nine To Noon has a regular slot with journalist Michael Field in which he gives his take on the news from the Pacific. In this morning's interview, he discussed the situation in Fiji (starts at 5:35). And what he said was frightening:

I know of two people this week who have been hauled up to the barracks. They don't want their affiliations known, their employers don't want their affiliations known, because they are terrified. But one of them who rang me later and pleaded with me not to do any story about it said that as that person sat in the barracks they received a phone call and the soldiers were told to apply light torture to this person. There were instructions coming. "Light torture" in this case involved apparently pulling the persons ears severely and slapping them. It's publicly known that a politician the other day was beaten up. People are absolutely terrified...

(Original emphasis)

One of his worries is that the immediate response is "please don't tell anybody" - something which plays into the hands of the military and allows them to get away with further abuses. Meanwhile, the New Zealand government has taken its eye of the ball and is now staying quiet about the increasing level of human rights abuses. It shouldn't be doing this. Instead, it should be speaking up to condemn them, and working to mobilise our neighbours in condemning it as well.


Fiji could go three ways:
1. The military government eventually steps down and its successor manages to reform or disband the army and establish a stable democracy

2. The military government goes, but remains in the wings as happened after previous coups

3. The military government continues and turns the country into a Burma style permanent totalitarian state

I think right now we're headed to (3). The NZ government is doing stuff all and we really need escalating sanctions, from freezing government linked funds through to an air and sea travel ban.

The downside of this is that it would hurt innocent ordinary Fijians - but it would seem to be the only way to undermine the military before they consolidate their rule further.

Posted by Rich : 5/25/2007 03:21:00 PM

Now they feel confident to continue to violate human rights and ratchet up the climate of fear. They thought they'd get their way in the beginning, pretended to stand by their promise to the EU, but now that their convoluted reasoning and justification for the coup are not believed, they do not care for the aid that is on the line. Its about the survival of the regime now and they will drag Fiji down with them rather than gracefully bowing out.

Posted by Anonymous : 5/25/2007 11:41:00 PM

4th option:

The events in Fiji could eventually become a tide that, raises all boats.

It's funny reading all these comments on Human rights abuses; yet forget about the shelling of a refugee camp in Gaza or the kindapping of EU citizens off the streets and ending up in Gitmo.

Realistically these so called abuses in Fiji are a drop in the ocean by nations; who continue to remind other nations about democracy and human rights.

Posted by laminar_flow : 5/26/2007 08:41:00 AM