Friday, May 08, 2009

Military Murderers Released From Prison by Shameful Naivalurua

The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) describes the release of eight soldiers and a polic-eman convicted of manslaughter, as an abhorrent decision that undermines the rule of law.
“The eight soldiers and a police officer were serving sentences of four years and four months for a very serious crime of manslaughter of a teenage boy in early 2007. To release them on Community Supervision Orders (CSO) two months after their sentencing undermines the authority of the courts to sentence and shows bias and unfair discrimination. These early releases are abhorrent to the rule of law,” CCF Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Rev Akuila Yabaki said.
“Manslaughter is a serious crime. Normally, only those prisoners who have committed minor offences are released on CSOs. The government should publicly explain the need to release these prisoners,” Rev Yabaki said. CCF is concerned there is no opportunity for judicial review of the decision to release the prisoners as there is no High Court. CCF is alarmed that the Interim Government is behaving in a partisan manner and giving preferential treatment to soldiers and police men who support the regime. The Qarase government had released 10 people on Compulsory Supervision Orders, who had been convicted for offences of unlawful oath, unlawful assembly, possession of firearms and wrongful detention, in relation to the May 2000 coup. Seven of those released were chiefs, two were former army officers and one a politician. CCF successfully challenged the early release of former Vice-President Ratu Jope Seniloli under a CSO on supposed medical grounds after his conviction for taking an unlawful oath. The Court found a perception of bias in the government’s decision to release him early.
“CCF is alarmed that the military is making a mockery of the justice system in a similar manner as the Qarase government. Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama as Caretaker Prime Minister and Police Commissioner Esala Teleni are blatantly disregarding respect for justice by these acts of favouritism for army and police officers.” Rev Yabaki said. “The Military has not learnt any lesson from the way the law was disrespected in 2000. This will set a bad example to the young people of our country and it will definitely send the wrong message to soldiers,” Rev Yabaki said.
For further information, contact CCF on ph: 3308379 or fax: 3308380.
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Rev Akuila Yabaki, Chief Executive Officer
Posted by rawfijinews
Party time for the junta
May 7, 2009
Our Fiji sources confirm that more than 200 rooms have been booked for members and supporters of the junta at the Natadola Resort. The resort, to be officially opened this weekend, will host these coup perpetrators and supporters at the expense of taxpayers and members of the FNPF. These sources say while many taxpayers and FNPF members are scrounging around looking for ways and means to support their suffering families, Frank & Co. and their families are already heading to Natadola for a weekend of booze, fun and more madness. Frank is expected to join them.
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Tevita Momoedonu a corrupt power hungry man
May 7, 2009
The corrupt power hungry failed businessman and ex-Prime Minister by default, Tevita Momoedonu is at it again – orchestrating his cheap public relations maneuvers to continue propping up his half dead senile puppet Iloilo. Somehow, FM96 radio station has found it news worthy to put this Tevita Momoedonu’s political support for the claimed abrogation of the 1997 constitution by his dying chiefly thief Iloilo as something the Fijian public needed to hear, yet they didn’t bother to say a word on the release of Rabaka’s killers. Yeah, sure, the censors are there at their newsroom but for heavens sake Vijay Narayan, who the hell is Tevita Momoedonu and what makes him so deserving to make him your head news this morning! Pull those one-sided political stories or cheap endorsements out of your airwaves FM96 and learn to stick to basic media ethics!
Posted by rawfijinews
I REFER to Graham Davis’s response (Letters, 4/5) to Jon Fraenkel’s letter (2-3/5). I carry no brief for the racial supremacists of my country, but Fiji’s imperfect democracy is an evolving one. And neither Frank Bainimarama, nor Sitiveni Rabuka before him, had the right to destroy it, whatever the pretext. The wonder and paradox of democracy is that the outcome cannot be guaranteed in advance. A fairer and more equitable electoral system will not necessarily deliver a result that Bainimarama, Davis or some of us would prefer. Indeed Fiji’s coup leader is on record as saying that ousted prime minister Laisenia Qarase would return over his dead body.
What this sentiment suggests is that Fiji’s unelected ruler, who has no mandate from the people, would lend his support to a democratic model of governance so long as he was satisfied with and could guarantee the outcome. That is a dangerous proposition and reveals far more about the shallowness of Bainimarama’s understanding of the nature of democratic politics.
The charge of “racism” that is flung with abandon at Qarase’s government is cited to justify the December 5, 2006 coup. Suffice it to say, that in the context of Fiji the discourse about race and ethnicity is more complicated than is portrayed. It is not confined to one community. As a person of mixed-racial parentage, I can cite examples of being at the receiving end of racial slurs and discrimination. But I would not for one moment suggest that a coup d’etat would be the way to address racism and bad governance. The end does not justify the means.
Electoral reform, while important, is essentially a red herring. The real problem in Fiji is that feudal cliques refusing to relinquish privilege, an army that refuses to recognise its limitations in a democracy, and failed politicians of all persuasions and opportunistic businessmen who support them, see nothing wrong in undermining electoral verdicts. The choice is not between good and evil as such, but rather between the legitimation of arbitrariness and whim in public life and the hesitant but gradual process of democratisation with all its checks and balances.
If the racial supremacists in Fiji are now converts, let it be the Damascus experience of Saint Paul and not the ambivalence of Hamlet. Fiji’s latest coup should be seen for what it is—a naked grab for power.
Graham Leung Suva, Fiji
http://blogs.theaustralian.news.com.au/letters/
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Fiji Times editor, Netani Rika, says major events go unreported
May 7, 2009
Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific editor May 08, 2009

Article from: The Australian
THE editor of the Fiji Times newspaper, Netani Rika, has spoken out for the first time about how major events go unreported because of military censorship imposed in the Pacific nation.
Mr Rika spoke at a UNESCO workshop in Samoa planned originally for Fiji’s capital, Suva.
It was moved to Apia, said Susuve Laumaea, the Papua New Guinean chairman of joint organiser the Pacific Freedom Forum, because it would have been impossible to hold it in Fiji. Mr Rika, whose newspaper is owned by News Ltd, also owner of The Australian, would not have been permitted to make his speech in his home country following last month’s abrogation of the Fiji constitution and the continuing state of emergency under Prime Minister and 2006 coup leader Frank Bainimarama. “Basically, any story on government must put the interim regime in a positive light or it will not be permitted, even if balance is provided in the form of a comment from a minister or senior public servant,” Mr Rika said.
He said that after April 10, when the constitution was abrogated, judges were sacked and the military government was reappointed until at least September 2014, media organisations were told each would be allotted a censor accompanied by a plainclothes police officer. “We were not told from whom the censor would need protection,” he said. “The number of censors and of police officers has increased. In Fiji, it is often the case that rules can change from day to day without warning or explanation.” The Fiji Times Sunday edition published following the imposition of censorship carried white space in place of stories culled by the censors, and was now a collectors’ item, Mr Rika said. “It was a sensation and drove home to the people of Fiji the point that we were powerless to tell the truth, to tell the country what it needed to know.”
But the newspaper’s management was told by the Government’s information secretary that white space was not permitted, he said.
Instead, he said, “we continue to cover stories which do not portray the interim Government in a good light and inundate the censors with copy”, which “more often than not is declared unfit for consumption and knocked back”. “It is an extremely frustrating exercise.” The newspaper provided comprehensive coverage of the closure last week of Air Fiji, the country’s oldest airline, Mr Rika revealed. However, “the censor on duty did not allow our reports to run unless we carried a quote from a specific minister”. “We refused, and pulled the story. The following day, we placed the same stories in front of a different censor – no worries, the issue was covered.”
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/business/story/0,,25446097-7582,00.html
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Fiji won’t change outside the tent
May 7, 2009
Anthony Bergin May 08, 2009
Article from: The Australian
JUST more than a week ago the Pacific Islands Forum, the region’s most important body, comprising the heads of government of 14 Pacific Island countries as well as Australia and New Zealand, ejected Fiji from the regional association. Veteran Pacific analyst Graeme Dobell has correctly pointed out that the forum will do itself damage by casting out one of its founding states. With Papua New Guinea, Fiji is at the economic and security heart of the region. It is central to the Pacific’s transport and communications networks and hosts more than half of the most important regional bodies, including the region’s main university.
It’s not clear what retaliation the Fiji interim Government will take against being cut out of the regional system. It’s possible Frank Bainimarama may expel the forum secretariat, which is located in Suva. If the secretariat is moved to Samoa, Vanuatu or Solomon Islands, it will probably be at Australia’s expense. It’s hard to see how suspending Fiji from the forum will cause Bainimarama to change his mind on holding an election this year. Weakening the forum simply adds lustre to the Melanesian Spearhead Group, whose backer is China. Australia isn’t part of this regional group. It’s clear that Australia’s sticks and no carrots approach since December 2006 hasn’t worked. Bainimarama has said that Fiji won’t bow to external pressures such as our strict travel bans or Australia’s mean-spirited decision to cut Fiji from our Pacific agricultural guest-worker scheme. Ejecting Fiji from the forum just extends our failed approach. It’s in a similar vein to the crusade that Australia and NZ have led to ensure that Fiji can’t supply peacekeepers to the UN.
The UN has contributions to peacekeeping from 100 member countries with 113,000 forces deployed. Banning Fiji from international peacekeeping missions will result in unemployed Fiji military personnel with guns roaming the streets at home. The remittances the Fiji military provide from UN deployments are critical to alleviating poverty for many military families in Fiji. It’s hard to see how this measure would change Bainimarama’s mind anyway. Fiji’s economy is suffering badly, despite help from Fiji’s new Chinese and Indian friends. Trade sanctions would hurt only the innocent. It’s critical that there be a compromise that embodies the key change of open electorates and no affirmative action quotas while further constitutional reform is pursued.
For this to happen it will be necessary to get an outside mediator. Australia or NZ should not be involved in such an exercise.
The head of the interim Government appears somewhat besotted with the British royal family. Bainimarama recently told Graham Davis in an interview for The Australian: “I’m still loyal to the Queen, many people in Fiji are”, and indicated he would ask the Queen to resume her position as head of state. The country declared itself a republic during the first coups of 1987.
A member of the royal family with British Foreign and Commonwealth Office support therefore may make a suitable mediator. Prince Andrew, for example, has had a career as a naval officer and may have some rapport with Bainimarama, who was the former chief of Fiji’s navy. Another possibility as a third-party mediator is an emissary of Barack Obama. Bill Clinton would be a stand-out choice.
A fresh mediation effort should be tried, even if the chances of it working are slim. The alternative is that everyone in Fiji stews and suffers. More pressure from Australia even may lead to financial collapse or a rival army faction moving in. Unless the new power receives substantial outside help, Fiji could be in more trouble. What’s more, this new power may be even more unpalatable to Australia than the present one. We don’t want any possibility to arise of direct intervention such as the 5 1/2-year regional assistance mission to Solomon Islands that has already cost Australia more than $1 billion.
Anthony Bergin is author of Democracy Postponed: Fiji and Australian Policy Choices and director of research programs at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in Canberra.
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,,25444635-17062,00.html
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Forum’s stand against Suva fully justified
May 7, 2009
Fiji’s suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum last Friday has done little so far, except to rekindle a debate in this country about whether any purpose continues to be served by this sort of pressure on an intractable regime, whether a travel boycott should be encouraged, and whether the Maori Party’s mission is wise. The forum’s resolve to uphold its May deadline for progress towards elections deserves the utmost applause. The organisation would not have found it easy to expel any member state, let alone the one that lies so centrally in its region and provides a hub for its institutions and activities. Doubtless the calculated snubs the forum has taken from Fiji’s Commodore Frank Bainimarama made its resolution easier, but it was nevertheless welcome. The Pacific way has been tolerant to a fault.
The debate in this country since then must be of some comfort to the commodore. New Zealanders who know Fiji reinforce report that the governments of this country and Australia are much more anguished about his coup than citizens of Fiji appear to be. This coup, they point out, was perpetrated by a Fijian in the interests primarily of the Indian population who, he believed, was poorly served by racial distinctions in the electoral system set up by the last constitution.

Since that constitution was abolished last month, with the Court of Appeal that had ruled the coup unconstitutional, the commodore has tightened his clamp on free speech in Fiji and virtually taken control of its economy by devaluing its dollar. His control of Fiji’s media now makes it harder to read the public mood there but it is likely that most people remain passive and perhaps fatalistic about the removal of democratic rights. There is no evidence of antagonism to military rule and nothing might change unless the economy becomes very much worse. Quite probably it will under Commodore Bainimarama’s maladroit control. His devaluation was the shortsighted act of a soldier unaware of its effect on real incomes in the country over time. A lower dollar ought to help the country’s languishing tourist trade, though reports of near-empty resorts suggest it might not be working. In any event, Fijians will find they can afford fewer of the world’s goods.
New Zealanders who may be tempted to take advantage of the controlled exchange rate should think better of it. There are many other pleasant places to holiday in the Pacific where they would not be compromising their own country’s diplomatic efforts. The instinct of most travellers is not to punish Fijian business and jobs for the sins of their military commander, and the Maori Party’s mission has the same attitude. The party president says its delegation would go with the purpose of supporting the people, “our Pacific cousins”. It says it would not be representing the New Zealand Government in any way, though with ministers in the Government, its independent status might be lost on the commodore and his cohorts. They will use the visit to undermine New Zealand’s position as best they can. It is hard to see what benefit the mission might serve to offset the diplomatic cost. If the Maori Party is making common cause with indigenous Fijians it should be trying to restore the constitution, drawn up by a panel led by Sir Paul Reeves. The delegation’s eventual report might be interesting.
Meanwhile, the coup remains unmoved by exclusion from the forum and, surely in due course, the Commonwealth. Elections are an even more distant prospect than before the constitution was abolished. But the South Pacific has taken a stand that will serve it well in the long run. Respect will not be accorded power that comes from the point of a gun.
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/fiji-coups/news/article.cfm?c_id=582&objectid=10570800
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Youth of Fiji sidelined in Rabaka murderers release
May 7, 2009
The Young Peoples Concerned Network Press Release: Youth of Fiji sidelined in Rabaka release The YPCN is disappointed with the release of men who were convicted 4 weeks ago for the death of Sakuisa Rabaka, a young man from Lautoka. The Release of the Soldiers and a police officer found guilty of manslaughter is crime in it self. The YPCN has since 2007 pushed for better standards for youth and inclusion as well as protection of young people in Fiji. We have used the memory of Rabaka as the corner stone of our work and fuel for our passion. When Rabaka was admitted at the CWM hospital, Suva, a delegation of YPCN members visited the Rabaka and his family. We also argued that young people should not be detained just for been youth, as was the case at that time. We lobbied with many stakeholders even the than interim government for the immediate halt of youth hate crimes organised by the security forces. Through certain blogsites that reported on the hospitalisation and death of Rabaka, the YPCN carried a huge part in informing and discussing the implications of youth hate crimes during those times. Rabaka’s death was a case that many young people in Fiji go through. Where they are silenced, exploited and abused by persons in power, isolated from their rights, and pushed conveniently on the side. Many youths in Fiji can testify to the hardships of growing up in Fiji. Recently, we have been made aware that the murderers of Sakuisa Rabaka have been released over a Community Services Order and are in society. This is totally unfair, and speaks volumes of the value for youth in Fiji by those in authority. The coup of 2006 was done in name of corruption and the release of coup sympathizers from prisons in Fiji has part of the coup agenda led by Voreqe Bainimarama. Now the leaders are releasing murderers after 4 weeks in prison. how hypocritical and biased. Youths in Fiji have relayed messages of fear that the 9 ‘Youth Killers’ are free. Young people who provided testimony in the Rabaka Trail are also directly in harms way, with four weeks been little time for any manslaughter prisoner to come to terms with anger and closure on emotions. The many youths who have been detained by the 9 Youth Killers will also brace themselves for sleepless nights. Youth in Fiji need to be taken seriously and it is about time that we not sidelined anymore for someones convenience and taken advantaged of because of traditional and social implications that prevent youth from voicing their own concerns.
Youth hate crimes need to dealt with appropriately if youth are be advanced and prepared for better futures. People convicted of youth hate crimes, must also be seriously dealt with and not allowed to roam our streets four weeks after they were convicted, for the death of a young Fiji Citizen. Why are they different? This is a human right violation and a miscarriage of justice. This act has made a mockery of the Justice System and placed even less trust the leadership of this country. And than we have Pacific Island Prime Ministers of the Solomons and Tuvalu offering support to the Dictatorship we have. Is this the system they support, a system that strikes fear and intimidation into the lives of their own citizens. We call on the Leaders of the Pacific to get real with Fiji, and see the real picture and unite in means to progressively take us back to a Democracy.
he YPCN is discussing a process to campaign against the release and send the murderers back to jail. We owe this to the memory of Sakuisa Rabaka, our hero and the reason youth activism needs to continue under these strange circumstances.

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