Monday, August 11, 2008

Fiji: another media detention

There was a worrying development in Fiji over the weekend, which suggests that despite its recent "progress', the dictatorship is just as authoritarian and intolerant of dissent as ever. On Saturday, the Fiji Times reported a rumour that interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry had been secretly sacked, and that businessman Charan Jeath Singh had challenged him to front up and confirm that he was still in the cabinet. In response, the regime's police detained the journalist, questioned her for several hours, and repeatedly threatened her in an effort to coerce a statement. They are now apparently considering sedition charges. Which pretty much confirms everything that has been said about sedition laws.

Meanwhile, ousted opposition leader Mick Beddoes has condemned the detention and highlighted the need to clean house when democracy is restored:

"When we come to resolving all our problems and democracy is returned we must take each and every police and military person to task, who carried out an order they felt was wrong because they remained silent and carried out the job anyway. They let people down and they should not be allowed to hide [behind] the 'I was doing my job or following orders excuse."
He also raises an interesting question: if the regime is willing to arrest people over something like this, what will they do when people don't agree with their charter? Arrest them too? or just arrest the journalists in an effort to ensure that disagreement is not reported?