Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Fiji: six months on

Six months ago, on December 5 2006, the Fijian government of Laisenia Qarase was overthrown by a military coup. It was not a good government, but it was an elected government, and therefore a legitimate one. While I disagree with the policies it proposed, they were lawful and constitutional and well within their power to choose. In overthrowing it, the Fijian military both undermined Fiji's constitution, and frustrated the democratic desires of the Fijian people. For that, they deserve to be condemned.

In the six months since the coup, we have seen the progressive dismantling of Fiji's constitution, the "sacking" of its politicians, public servants, police and judges, and its replacement by an interim regime intent on imposing its chosen policies without any democratic mandate. We have also seen a series of human rights abuses, with critics of the regime barred from leaving the country and subject to arbitrary detention, military questioning, and beatings. The military has also murdered two men while "questioning" them (though neither was a political detainee), and there have been reports of other horrific and sadistic abuses. The country is now reportedly in a state of fear, with people too terrified to raise their voices for fear of being dragged off to the barracks and tortured, and Fiji now seems to be well on its way to becoming the Myanmar of the South Pacific. While the regime has promised democratic elections in 2010, there is no guarantee that they will not again veto the people's choice if the resulting government looks too likely to implement policies they disagree with or attempts to hold them to account.

What can we do about this? Precious little. Even if the military regime's abuses were widespread enough and vicious enough to justify military intervention - and they fortunately do not even come close - such would be beyond both the capabilities and the willingness of New Zealand. Instead, it seems all we can do is condemn it, apply sanctions, and work to ensure the Fijian regime is isolated by its neighbours until it returns power to an elected government. That, and help those speaking out against the regime in any way we can, in the hope that the Fijian people get angry enough to try their hand at "people power" tactics. That's not much, and its not even likely to be effective, but as much as it pains me to say it, its pretty much all we can do.


The Aussie and Kiwi are on right track but not tough enough.

All persons associated with the coup should be banned from entering Australia and NZ for rest of their life.

If they don't respect the law of their land and abide by international conventions than they are deemed to be "criminals"

Why should they be treated on prefrential basis and forgiven after elections when other common people are not.

Posted by Anonymous : 6/14/2007 01:55:00 PM