Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Fiji Methodist Church Takes A Stand

Methodist Church Takes Stand for Justice and the Rule of Law
May 12, 2009 by Free Fiji

Information leaked from the military camp in Nabua confirm that the military top brass is looking at detaining Rev Manasa Lasaro concerning the stance taken by the Church against the military government. Since the abrogation of the Constitution in April 2009 the Methodist Church has expressed serious concern for the potentially explosive social, economic and political crisis in Fiji. The Church supports peace, and the desire of people to escape from poverty and political uncertainty. With its responsibility for instilling Christian values and those of good citizenship, the current Fiji situation begs some important questions especially of the leaders of government:
-What have our children to learn when they see the illegal actions and misconduct of our national leaders?
-What kind of role model are our government leaders of today offering our children and the world?
-Can we expect better leaders of our children tomorrow, if our leaders act contrary to the law and the Constitution, and disrespect the basic rights of the people?
The Church has to uphold God’s justice and God’s concern for human dignity. The Bible teaches that citizens are not obligated in conscience to follow the prescriptions of civil authorities if their actions, precepts and policies are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or to the teachings of the Gospel. What is happening in Fiji today points to the State having lost its moral authority to govern and having become tyrannical against the people it is supposed to serve.
At the meeting of the Methodist Consultative Council of the Pacific held in Suva in mid-April 09, leading officials of the Methodist Church had agreed on a common petition with its Pacific counterparts to make a call on Head of State Ratu Josefa Iloilo, and Prime Minister Bainimarama to:
-Reinstate the Constitution and comply with the rule of law as directed by the Appeals Court on Thursday 09 April 2009
-Return the country to democratic elections under the 1997 Constitution, and under foreign, independent supervision, not later than December 2009
-Protect all the rights of its citizens as stipulated under the 1997 Constitution, especially from arbitrary arrest, harassment, torture and inhumane treatment
-Reinstate the law courts and ensure an independent judiciary.
-Ensure that any changes to the electoral system are democratic, constitutional, participatory, and inclusive and accounts for the interests of all individuals and ethnic groups complying with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well the United Nation Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
-Ensure that the Charter is considered and acted upon in line with the provisions of the 1997 Constitution.
-Ensure the operation of a free and independent media
-Set up an independent truth and reconciliation commission towards national forgiveness, reconciliation and healing.
With annual meetings of the Methodist Church’s 53 divisions Fiji-wide underway in the past two weeks, strong sentiments of support have been expressed on the stance of the Church for justice, the protection of basic human rights, the rule of law, and early return to democracy. It appears that the stance of the Church is a perceived as a serious threat against the Bainimarama junta, hence the intention to take Rev Lasaro up to the military camp.

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