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Amnesty: Fiji’s military regime rules by fear

September 9, 2009


SYDNEY — Fiji’s military regime is using beatings, arbitrary arrests, censorship and intimidation to rule the South Pacific country by fear, Amnesty International alleged Tuesday.


The global rights watchdog also cited China for going against an international trend of imposing sanctions on Fiji to punish those responsible for a 2006 coup, and urged Beijing to use its new influence to protect human rights there.

Military-installed Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama did not immediately respond to the Amnesty report, the latest international condemnation of the military chief’s seizure of power and refusal to restore democracy.

London-based Amnesty said Bainimarama’s regime has committed multiple human rights violations since April when the constitution was shelved in response to a court ruling that his takeover was unlawful and emergency regulations known as PER put in place.

“The abrogation of the constitution, the promulgation of the PER, the dismissal of the judiciary, subsequent political arrests and intimidation of activists have led to a climate of fear and desperation amongst human rights defenders, lawyers, the NGO community and society as a whole,” the Amnesty report says.

Beatings, the arbitrary arrest of journalists, activists, lawyers and church leaders, and the strict censorship of news outlets were among abuses being committed in Fiji, the report said. It noted the government had used special powers to free from prison nine soldiers and a police officer who were convicted in two separate killings that may have been linked to intimidation tactics.

“The ongoing harassment and arbitrary detention of journalists, lawyers, clergy and government critics by the authorities under the broad and sweeping provisions of the PER is a tactic used to suppress freedom of expression, including any form of dissent,” the report says.

Amnesty said China had massively increased financial aid to Fiji since the coup, filling a void created by sanctions imposed by major donors such as Australia and New Zealand, which have led condemnation of Bainimarama.

“China has long claimed that it doesn’t interfere in other country’s affairs, but, in Fiji, China has clearly favored one side of a long political dispute — and in the process ignored the country’s human rights situation,” Amnesty Asia-Pacific deputy director Donna Guest said in a statement.

Former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase angered Beijing by allowing Taiwanese then-President Chen Shui-bian to visit Fiji in 2005 and later by backing Taiwan’s bid to join the World Health Organization.

China and rival Taiwan have for years used money funneled through aid programs to impoverished nations in their battle for diplomatic support. Beijing seeks to block nations giving diplomatic recognition to Taiwan, which it regards as a renegade province.

Amnesty said Beijing should urge Bainimarama to end human rights abuses and “put an immediate end to any support for the (Fijian military) in any form or fashion.”

Bainimarama says he will call elections to restore democracy in 2014, after he has recast the constitution and electoral laws. Critics say he has broken such promises in the past and have little faith he intends to relinquish power.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. gdevreal permalink
    September 9, 2009 2:24 PM

    He certainly looks like a clown.
    I guess he needs that pompous uniform to overcome what is lacking between his ears.

  2. Reg permalink
    September 9, 2009 3:23 PM


    The thought of China taking Fiji to task over human rights abuse,,,, That is just like the big black boiler at Penang mill calling my little bombay pot black…

  3. Imran1265 permalink
    September 10, 2009 12:10 AM

    Has anyone seen this posting on fiji sugar?

    It’s very good and shows why we need to worry about the future of our sugar industry.

  4. September 10, 2009 1:55 AM

    The commonwealth is an international body that champions democracy, but is meeting with the thieves that rob the people of their freedom and claim to be the government of the day, what a load of crepe.
    That is pure double standards and discrimination on their part in meeting with the thieves.

  5. Corruption Fighter permalink
    September 11, 2009 12:48 AM


    This posting on the woes of our sugar industry should be printed and dropped EVERYWHERE IN THE WEST AND LABASA. I’m not sure that many people realise how desperate the situation, but I guess they will when they start getting the reduced payments after the EU price drop -and no EU aid funds to ease the pain.

  6. Beranaliva permalink
    September 11, 2009 3:31 AM

    @Corruption Fighter……didn’t you say that the FSC has a plan to take the land of all the small farmers and use it themselves, just like CSR did in the old days?

  7. Corruption Fighter permalink
    September 11, 2009 3:59 AM

    Yes I did. They’re not hiding the fact that they want to get into growing cane themselves. But they haven’t said they want to take the land of small farmers. What they’re waiting for is for the farmers to go broke. Then they’ll step up to
    help but they’ll only pay rock bottom prices for farms when the farmers walk away.

  8. LUVfiji permalink
    September 12, 2009 4:42 AM

    I tend to agree with Corruption Fighter.

    With the deepening crisis at FSC, which of course, the farmers will ultimately be the hardest hit, one has to ask, what is that canefarm boy, Parmess Chand, doing about it?

    Undoubtedly, this ought to be his pet subject, having come out of the canefields of Ba. It is something he would hold dear and his interest would be personal with family probably still back there while he plays co-leader of the country! PS for sugar, my black ass..

    Show us Parmess.. since you seem to have a hold over it with Frankenstein!.

    Thats right, they will pay peanuts for those ready made farms!

    Oh how I wish the EU would takeover the entire sugar industry – farm and mills – and wipe out these bastards once and for all.

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