Sunday, June 19, 2011

Momentum building for Fijian pro-democracy fighters in Australia

Posted on Raw Fiji News - 19 June 2011

Three of the five civilians personally beaten up by tyrant Frank Bainimarama – Laisa Digitaki, Jacquline Koroi and Pita Waqavonovono all with Fijian flags at one of their peaceful demonstration
ASHLEY HALL: Fijian pro-democracy supporters based in Australia say momentum is building towards their long awaited goal of liberating the country.
Fiji has suffered four coups since independence in 1970. The most recent in 2006 brought to power Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
But now a former ally of Commodore Bainimarama has swapped sides and joined the democracy movement.
The defection of Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Mara is being seized upon by campaigners as a game changer. They met for the first time at a democracy rally in southern New South Wales last weekend.
Many of the more than 100 Fijians travelled from Victoria and further afield.
Adrienne Francis was there for Correspondents Report.
(Fijians pro-democracy supporters sing Fijian National Anthem)
JOSIFINI WAQAINABETE: My name is Josifini Waqainabete. I am actually coming as a representative of the Melbourne chapter. I came to Australia in 1990.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: What do your family in Fiji say about this democratic movement?
JOSIFINI WAQAINABETE: They don’t talk much about it because they are very scared and worried and one of my female members of the family was actually thrown and assaulted by Bainimarama.
So, so my family have got a very strong feeling about what had happened during the coup and the cause of bringing back freedom to the country.
(Fijians pro-democracy supporters sing Fijian National Anthem)
VULA ONU YEE: My name is Vula Onu Yee and I am from Bua in Fiji and I came to Australia in 1989.
This is it. It’s forward, it’s a step forward for us as democracy fighters that we finally, finally have achieved something because we were praying about it, fasting about it and this is what has, God has intervened.
All his followers, Bainimarama’s followers are starting to realise that it is not a democracy government.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: One of Bainimarama’s most senior military lieutenant colonels is among the latest defections from Fiji’s regime.
Ratu Tevita Mara is the youngest son of the first prime minister of Fiji.
He was a key supporter of Commodore Bainimarama when Bainimarama staged his coup in 2006 and took over the country.
However there’s been a falling out between them.
Bainimarama charged Tevita Mara with sedition and the Fijian regime were seeking his extradition from Tonga.
But Mr Mara is visiting Australia meeting with the pro-democracy movement.
He’s also planning to visit members of the New Zealand movement next month before travelling to New York to lobby the United Nations.
Tevita Mara, how can you expect to be taken seriously when you were so intimately involved in the Fiji coup?
TEVITA MARA: Well, that’s one aspect which I think can be to my advantage that I was part of the group that you know, participated. I was part of the military that took over government.
And as I’ve said I’ve been discharged from the military. It’s my word. I think I have the backing of a lot of people back home to speak out the truth of what’s happening back home.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: So what has changed your mind Tevita Mara? Why are you now so committed to a democracy in Fiji when your actions indicate you haven’t been in the past?
TEVITA MARA: In 2006 you know, the prevailing political situation that we had then, we thought we were on a noble cause. We thought we were bringing led by someone who was taking us on a noble cause as I’ve said, bring proper governance to Fiji.
Most of the senior officers believed in that. As the journey went on we saw that we were deviating away from the original plan. Then we just, we fell out with Bainimarama then.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: How is the Fiji under Bainimarama now different to the Fiji previously under Bainimarama when you were an ally?
TEVITA MARA: Two-thousand-and-six/ 2007 was pretty much a good year for Bainimarama I think. After that it just fell to pieces. He has still got all these draconian measures in place regarding the media, public emergency relations, media censorship.
So as each year continues it gets worse. The control and the oppression of people continues and increases.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: If Bainimarama is such a bad leader why didn’t you realise it at the time of the coup?
TEVITA MARA: Not only me, the majority of people thought that what he did was for the good of Fiji. As I’ve said you know, we all thought it was a noble cause.
If you look at his roadmap back to democracy, the speech he did in 2007, it’s a very well thought out plan which we discussed with the military council which was supposed to bring us back to elections in 2010.
Well eventually we all know that hasn’t happened.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Can his words here today be believed?
VULA ONU YEE: Yes, I do believe that he has changed. He has publicly told the people that what he did was wrong. I believe in my heart this is the turning point for him and for all of us. We are so happy that we are here and being part of that.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Vula Yee made her assessment of Tevita Mara first hand at a Fiji democracy rally in the southern New South Wales city of Queanbeyan.
Mr Mara was guest speaker.
Her assessment is mirrored by other members of the movement’s Australian chapter, like Suliasi Daunitutu.
SULIASI DAUNITUTU: This is as they say is a game changer. A person right in the middle of the regime has defected and we can use him to our full advantage. So we could change a lot of things.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Mr Daunitutu is the interim president of the Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement, based in Australia.
The members have collaborated with academics from the Australian National University to create a plan to restore democracy to Fiji.
They’re calling for re-instatement of the judicial system and Fiji’s 1997 constitution with some amendments.
They also want the Great Council of Chiefs re-instated.
The council was established by the British government and its membership comprised the tribal chiefs of Fiji’s 14 provinces.
Mr Daunitutu says they’re hoping to dislodge Commodore Frank Bainimarama without bloodshed.
SULIASI DAUNITUTU: I am relying a lot on the Christian background of this country where tolerance, forgiveness can be used as a tool to get back to a democracy without bloodshed as we have heard over in the Middle East and all those places.
Dialogue is an international way of settling solutions or settling problems and on top of that to be inclusive. We have to include everyone.
We can’t take one little party out of this dialogue and hope for a good solution. We need to include everyone because a lot of people have been hurt. A lot of people have died. A lot of families, poverty is now doubled. A lot of people are in trouble in all aspects of life.
And to accept if we are to go back to democracy the people that brought us to this dire situation have to be forgiven first. If we can’t forgive them we cannot heal.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Suliasi Daunitutu is preparing to table the movement’s Fiji democracy paper at the annual Pacific Islands Forum, which will be held in New Zealand in September.
Mr Daunitutu says he’ll appeal to members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
The group is a regional trade and diplomatic bloc comprising Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
Mr Daunitutu says he hopes the group will help bring Commodore Bainimarama to dialogue.
SULIASI DAUNITUTU: The 10-point plan is from the people upwards approach because the dialogue that has been planned didn’t occur.
Bainimarama is not keen to have any form of dialogue with any Pacific Island leaders or leaders in the region. So we thought we’d try something that is going upwards, from the people upwards. So that’s the first thing.
Number two, we tried to not use words that will aggravate the situation to stop him from coming to dialogue. Words like arrest and all those words, you know. These are words that I think that have been used so many times through the 4 and a half years. It hasn’t helped in any way.
It has just aggravated the situation and made people drift away from the leadership. We need to collect, so we can dialogue.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Who would head the new government in Fiji?
SULIASI DAUNITUTU: Good question. If we reconvene the Great Council of Chiefs, a lot of things can change because we can bring back a lot of people through that institution.
Not that I am saying the chiefs should be leading the country but they can choose a few people who can take us in an interim government into the election.
There’s a lot of well educated Fijians overseas. We can call them. It’s very easy to do that.
We have got a very large network, the democracy movement in America, here and New Zealand, even Turkey. And we can call upon these people too if they can come and help.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Mr Daunitutu says the plan has the backing of Indian Fijians.
The ethnic group comprises the second largest population in Fiji.
The democracy plan is also being championed by military defector Tevita Mara, who says there’s grassroots support in Fiji.
TEVITA MARA: It does have the general backing of the whole population in Fiji.
The problem we have is that they can’t speak out. There are so many stringent measures that are put in place by the regime that it is just impossible to sit and talk. So people are scared.
They have got military and police people out you know, in civilian clothes. They are tapping into your phone calls. They are tapping into the internet. So it’s a controlled situation much similar to what you have in Myanmar. I have been to Myanmar. This is very similar to what is happening there.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: How can a dictator like Bainimarama be dislodged peacefully? Can he be or will power need to be used?
TEVITA MARA: I hope it doesn’t get to use power to remove him. I think to dislodge him peacefully there’s measures currently in place by regional government’s including Australia. They have got smart sanctions in place.
I am sure there’s other measures that they have got that can just reinforce the move to get Bainimarama out.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Expectation is building among Australian Fijians like Josifini Waqainabete of Melbourne.
JOSIFINI WAQAINABETE: We are all hoping that it will happen soon. So we just have to hope.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Fellow Melburnian Vula Yee is also determined and hopeful.
Vula, what would it mean to you for democracy to be restored to your country?
VULA YEE: It is far beyond human understanding. I don’t know how to put it into words.
I have been an active member all the time because I am not fighting only for me. It’s for the people, for my grandchildren.
And I often go back to Fiji and see how the suffering in the village life are. The richer get richer and the poorer get poorer.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Talking about these issues has brought tears to your eyes. Why are you so passionate about the movement towards democracy?
VULA YEE: I am a believer in fighting for the right because the truth will never be hidden. It will always come out and for a democracy country we need good leaders, leaders that can lead people in harmonious way, respecting differences and they can live in harmony.
But that is not what I see with a coup in government.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: How hard is it going to be to achieve your desire?
VULA YEE: Well one person, I’ve been given 100 tapes to distribute back to the island and we have to do it. And we are working on other strategies like having radio stations to let the common people in Fiji know what we are doing here in Australia.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: How can you avoid the strong censorship that’s in place there under the Bainimarama regime?
VULA YEE: Well he might think that he is clever but there are people out here who are much, much cleverer than his lot, who are in IT departments who know more and more about how to get things across.
We are not going to stop.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Tevita Mara, you are living in exile now. Are you at all concerned that the Fijian authorities could somehow try to force you back to Fiji from Australia?
TEVITA MARA: That’s, that’s possible. You can’t discount when you are dealing with an illegal regime so… but I don’t think. Australia is one of the greatest, great countries in the world. It has its principles to stand by and I have every faith in that.
ADRIENNE FRANCIS: Tevita Mara, thank you for talking to Correspondents Report.
TEVITA MARA: Thank you very much, thank you.
ASHLEY HALL: Adrienne Francis with that report from the southern New South Wales city of Queanbeyan.

Dictator Bainimarama the women basher on the face of Fijians

Women and civilian basher – Frank Bainimarama
The women basher dictator, Frank Bainimarama, has taken his Presidential campaign a notch up.
He now has huge billboards flaunting his photo around the Suva area peppered with some road safety message.
It would have been more appropriate if the term “WOMEN AND CIVILIAN BASHER” was plastered beside his picture for that is what he is well known for in that Fijian island state after Ului Mara exposed his involvement in the beating of five unarmed civilians, three of them women.
Reporters in Fiji say this new billboard marketing drive for Frank is a subliminal way of reminding the helpless Fijians that Frank is the man.
But why is Frank so concerned about deaths on the road when he is personally inflicting death and harm on Fijian civilians at his torture chamber in Queen Elizabeth Barracks and other military facilities?
Sources say his spin-doctors are working on overdrive right now as more damning reports of torture are beginning to surface from Fijian victims.
These victims are taking heed of the advice given to them by associates and bloggers to document and send their story to relevant authorities outside of Frank’s oppressive and brutal world.
Team Frank is acutely aware that a case is now at the International Criminal Court to prosecute him and his cronies with an arrest warrant being sought for each of them.


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