Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fiji: rewarding dictatorship

Earlier in the month, the Pacific Islands Forum responded to the Fijian regime's purported abrogation of the constitution by suspending it. The UN has reportedly decided that it will no longer employ Fijian peacekeepers, while the EU has cut off millions of dollars in sugar grants. Meanwhile, the New Zealand government has quietly relaxed the ban on sporting contact:

Mr Key said yesterday that New Zealand had "softened" its stance on visiting sports teams since National took power last November.

"New Zealand has been effectively softening its sanctions in relation to sporting ties and the travel of sports teams," he said. "To all intents and purposes, since we've been the Government we've been signing off on sports teams either transiting to New Zealand or coming to engage in sports activities here."

So, at the very time when the regime is getting worse, undermining the rule of law, freeing torturers and detaining anyone who reports it, our government is rewarding them. The ban on visiting sports teams wasn't much, but it did send a message (and one the government couldn't censor) that it was not "business as usual". But even that it seems is too much for National. They have a long and dirty history of cuddling up to dictatorship (they infamously supported South Africa's apartheid regime in the 70's and 80's, and John Key still "doesn't remember" where he stood on that), and this is merely a continuation of it.

[Hat-tip: Coup 4.5]