Monday, April 13, 2009

Media censorship in Fiji

I've been following the situation in Fiji closely over the last few days, watching the new (old) regime consolidate its power. One of their first moves was to censor the media, placing police in every newsroom to review stories and prevent the publication of anything deemed "inciteful". Unfortunately their definition of "inciteful" extended to any criticism of the regime or reporting on its opponents, and so yesterday the Fiji Times ran with large areas blank except for a notice stating "This story could not be published due to Government restrictions". Fiji Television cancelled its entire news broadcast after censors objected to a story speculating on the possible reinstatement of the previously pro-coup Chief Justice (who has now reportedly fled the country). As a result, the Fiji Times editor has now reportedly been arrested, and the newspaper now has no political coverage at all.

News is however getting around via the blogs. Andrew Bartlett has a list of the good ones here. At the moment I'm relying mostly on Intelligentsiya and Raw Fiji News. Both of them have highlighted this fantastic piece by journalist Michael Field, which points out that Fiji's constitution doesn't cease to exist simply because a senile old man says so, any more than it ceased to exist because a gun-waving thug said so. Instead, all Iloilo's declaration has done is made it very clear that he is a criminal. And he will hopefully be held liable for it when all this is over.