Friday, August 23, 2013

Regime Double Standards in Treatment of Methodist Church & Great Council of Chiefs

STATEMENT
[No 15/2013]
[Friday August 24, 2013]



The UFDF said in a statement today, that the ongoing treatment of the Methodist Church and the Great Council of Chiefs by the regime, is inconsistent with the provisions of the constitution that they are today promoting as the best way forward for Fiji and these institutions are just two examples of the regime’s double standards, lack of sincerity and a basic inability to practice what it preaches.

The UFDF says the regime must explain to the people of Fiji, how they can justify their treatment of the Methodist Church and the restrictions imposed on the number of days they can hold their conference for while allowing other religious groups to operate without similar restrictions or conditions, as well as the disbanding of the Great Council of Chiefs while allowing other community based organizations to operate without restriction.

The UFDF said the double standards and inconsistency of what the regime says and does when one looks at their constitution starts on the very first page in its PREAMBLE where it states quote
 ‘WE, THE PEOPLE OF FIJI, RECOGNISING the indigenous people or the iTaukei, their ownership of iTaukei lands, their unique culture, customs, traditions and language?

The UFDF asks how is the disrespectful and degrading treatment of the Great Council of Chiefs as the paramount institution of our itaukei community consistent with this clause. And knowing that the majority of our itaukei communities are religious people and members of the Methodist Church in Fiji how is the restrictions placed on the Methodist Church annual conference consistent with this clause?

The UFDF said if the regime constitution recognizes the itaukei language how consistent is this with the demands contained in the Political Parties decree calling for the removal of the itaukei name of a political party and replacing it with an English name?

In section 4: Secular State their constitution states quote ‘Religious liberty, as recognized in the Bill of Rights, is a founding principle of the State. (2) Religious belief is personal. (3) Religion and the State are separate, which means— (a) the State and all persons holding public office must treat all religions equally; (b) the State and all persons holding public office must not dictate any religious belief; (c) the State and all persons holding public office must not prefer or advance, by any means, any particular religion, religious denomination, religious belief, or religious practice over another, or over any nonreligious belief;

How is the persecution and imposition of restrictions on the Methodist Church Annual Conference consistent with Sections 4 (a) & (c) the UFDF asks

Chapter 2 –BILL OF RIGHTS (2) says quote ‘The State and every person holding public office must respect, protect, promote and fulfill the rights and freedoms recognized in this Chapter and in the Bill of Rights citizens have a right to

o Freedom of assembly

18.—(1) every person has the right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, demonstrate, picket and to present
Petitions
o Freedom of association
19.—(1) every person has the right to freedom of association.
The UFDF asks how the regime can suggest to the people that their constitution is the best thing for Fiji, while they continue to treat the Methodist Church and the Great Council of Chiefs who together represent the majority of the citizens in Fiji with such contempt and in total contravention of the very principals they now promote as positive aspects of their 2013 constitution.

The UFDF says that what the regimes treatment of the Methodist Church and the Great Council of Chiefs proves beyond reasonable doubt is how the limitation clauses that the regime has placed against all rights will be manipulated by them to ensure their ongoing control of the country through the suppression of the people.

o Freedom from cruel and degrading treatment

11.—(1) every person has the right to freedom from torture of any kind, whether physical, mental or emotional, and from cruel, inhumane, degrading or disproportionately severe treatment or punishment. (2) Every person has the right to security of the person, which includes the right to be free from any form of violence from any source, at home, school, and work or in any other place.

The UFDF said the regime has already demonstrated the ease with which it will deny citizens their right to freedom from torture of any kind, whether physical, mental or emotional, and from cruel, inhumane, degrading or disproportionately severe treatment or punishment as seen on the widely distributed video of two citizens being beaten up by officials which the PM publicly condoned and the Commissioner of Police remained shamefully silent on. 

The UFDF says that so long as one person or one community is not free of abuse, then none of us or our communities is free of abuse. So long as one religious organization is being persecuted, then all religious groups are in danger of persecution. The UFDF says the citizens will not be free, until we are all free.

People should see the constitution for what it is, a shameful attempt by the regime to entrench its position, and the people must brace themselves for an escalation of abuse of our rights as citizens, if the regime constitution is put into effect

Authorized By: UFDF
 
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