Fijian ‘Democracy’

Posted: September 11, 2016 in civil rights, democracy, Fiji, freedom of speech
Tags: , ,

It’s beginning to look like the name of a Guns N’ Roses album.

The leaders of two opposition parties are being held without charges after participating in a forum critical of the country’s new 2013 constitution law. A trade unionist is also being held.

Sadly, Mr. Bainimarama’s government is not an unpopular one, (and for all I know he does good work on issues other than civil liberties and has done some genuinely good things post-coup, it’s somewhat difficult to get news on anything except the aborted attempt to change their flag. The expat Fijians I know all seem to think he’s done well) but still, it really needs to get its act together. Arresting the leader of the opposition is a serious thing, and while I absolutely do think that MPs are subject to the law like the rest of us, there should be no question of illegality for a peaceful gathering to discuss the constitution. That’s not a security concern in a democratic country, it’s people exercising their rights to freedom of assembly, which no longer exists in Fiji. Now, if there were evidence they were stockpiling arms or planning another military coup, that would be different, but I think it highly unlikely that’s the case, given that one of the opposition party leaders turned himself in.

Biman Prasad‘s house has been searched for documents and a laptop has been seized by police, presumably on the hunt for something appropriately “subversive” to charge him with so he can be arrested as a threat to governmental security. For his political opinions. This is exactly the sort of thing that “freedom of expression” is supposed to prevent, and without that right, Fiji really doesn’t have even the dregs of democracy it could lay claim to before, and its elections are a complete farce, as opposed to merely slanted in Frank Bainimarama’s favour.

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