Tuesday, January 29, 2013

How the Bainimarama Dictatorship has Ruled since December 2006

by Sai Lealea

by Imposing its Will by Force, Threat and Intimidation

"Fear is the key to be a successful dictator. Clampdown on civil liberties, human rights, freedom of the press, speech etc..as they are impractical democratic nuisances. Decide what your people should have, and not what they like to have."

Once in office, dictatorships retain power by suppressing freedom of speech and targeting opponents. Often, a secret unit will inspire fear and silence in those who might protest. This unit may be created from within the military or police and answerable directly to the dictator. Hitler had his Gestapo while Mussolini created his own elite guard the Black Shirts. Being close to the dictator, members of the unit often wield wide powers to inflict harm and injury and even death to opponents. As reward, they can often expect rapid promotion through the ranks and offered government sponsored housing or other personal rewards at favourable rates.

Bainimarama’s approach to silencing his opponents is well documented. Members of his Goon Squad are known to be responsible for the torture and inhuman treatment of citizens who were taken up to the military camp in Suva. Testimonies from victims reveal the degrading and inhuman treatment dished out by soldiers, even to women, including an aunty of mine, and some who were pregnant. Bainimarama was reportedly present on one occasion when victims were being maltreated, and according to a fellow military officer who had since left the regime, “Bainimarama even jumped on the back of a pregnant woman killing her unborn child for goodness sake!” (Truth for Fiji – www.truthforfiji.com)

Personal threats and damage to the properties of opponents were also employed by Bainimarama’s goon squad and included some of the following:

  • Journalist Netani Rika’s parked vehicle and property was pelted with stones;
  • Former military officer, Sakiusa Raivoce’s house was stoned;
  • Former Judge  Gordon Ward’s house in   Pacific Harbour was burnt to the ground;
  • Former Qarase lawyer, Tevita Fa’s vehicle was tampered with;
  • Trade Unionist Felix Anthony was assaulted by soldiers in front of Bainimarama; and
  • Many others whose movements  were being monitored and those falsely accused of offences for which they were acquitted for either lack of evidence or for dubious reasons other than to tie them down for prolonged period.
Goon Squad Leader Naliva right behind his Dictator Boss

Members of Bainimarama’s Goon Squad have been identified and lists have been posted on anti coup blogs and websites. According to Coup 4.5 Blog, those known to make up the squad include the following:
  • Major Ben (Penioni) Naliva (left picture)
  • Captain Aseri Rokoura
  • Eparama Bulewa
  • Savenaca Siwatibau Rabuka
  • Mikaele Wong
  • Detective Sergeant Apimeleki Digitaki, Police Officer.
  • Kalusi  V Seru,  Police Officer
  • Viliame Saumaisue,  Police officer
  • Private Dusi
  • Private Lee
  • and one Epeli - lay preacher at Wainivula Methodist Church and soldier by profession
  • Atonio Tanaburenisau (Civilian informer)

Placing tight control on the media in Fiji became a potent tool for the Bainimarama dictatorship in controlling public expression and information. Censors were placed in newsrooms to ensure information for broadcast was not critical of the dictatorship or its programmes. Changes to shareholding arrangements for media companies were introduced to limit overseas ownership. License for public TV was placed on short term timelines requiring ongoing application for extension.

Accompanying physical threats and intimidation is the weapon of legal protection over any action taken by the dictatorship. This was achieved with a decree stating that none of the actions of the dictatorship or its members can be challenged in a court of law. Those adversely affected by the various decisions of Ministers and departments go unchallenged resulting in unfair and arbitrary results for citizens. On the other hand, those close to the regime can expect a good hearing over any issues or complaints they raise or place before the dictatorship.

The sole reason for all these intimidatory actions is to scare people not to protest or resist the dictatorship’s rule. Fear is the key to being a successful dictatorship. Since its rule was seized by force, a dictatorship will continue to implement its rule by force. In the absence of a law-making body such as Parliament, the regime simply regards its actions as sanctioned by its new powers under the pretext of ensuring the orderly conduct of government affairs. 

The Bainimarama dictatorship has survived this long because of its tight control on power and its ongoing efforts at intimidating its opponents with physical brutality or threat of prosecution in courts that are stacked with its own appointees.

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