PFF, Rarotonga, COOK ISLANDS: The arrest and detention of Fiji’s trade union movement leaders Daniel Urai and Felix Anthony continues the harassment and intimidation of citizens by the military regime, says regional media freedom monitoring network the Pacific Freedom Forum, PFF.
Trades Union Congress (FTUC) president Daniel Urai was arrested on October
29, 2011 at Nadi International Airport after returning from the Commonwealth Heads of
Government events in Australia, a move condemned as politically motivated by
Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd.
Urai was held
incommunicado at an undisclosed location for eight days until he appeared in
the Suva Magistrates' Court on Monday, November 7, 2011. He has been charged
with "urging political violence” under the regime’s Crimes Decree. Bail was
initially refused and he was granted release on bail with curfew and other conditions on Wednesday afternoon Fiji time.
“It took more than a week of being
held without charge, with no contact from family members, friends,
colleagues, and legal support, for the regime to decide what to do with Urai. This deplorable situation raises obvious questions over charges being concocted out of politically motivated harassment. There just isn't enough information to suggest a timely process of evidence and investigation has taken place prior to his arrest,”
says PFF chair Titi Gabi of Papua New Guinea.
“Pacific communities outside of Fiji continue
to freely express ideas and opinions which may be critical of their
governments, free from the fear of being ‘disappeared’ from their loved ones
at a moment’s notice. We urge the regime to cease the arbitrary detention
of selected citizens on sham charges, and repeat our call for lifting of the Public Emergency Regulations of April 2009 and the Media Decree which should have replaced the PER when it was introduced last November.” says Gabi.
“We are also
concerned at news that FTUC general secretary Felix Anthony has also been made incommunicado and has yet to face
charges since being ‘detained’ by the military at his office in Lautoka on
Friday, November 4 and taken to Suva under heavy guard the following
"The right to meet in public places, to organise, to share
opinions, ideas and express them no matter how critical or unpopular they
may be, is the most obvious sign that our Pacific leaders have come of
age and accept criticism as an essential part of public life, “says
PFF co-chair Monica Miller of American Samoa.
“As the regime leaders
continue to target citizens who express ideas and opinions that do not
support their views, a culture of compliance and silence is being manipulated and misrepresented to future generations as the 'Fijian' way. The 'disappearing' of citizens held without charge or court appearance, rendered incommunicado by the military, is a madness that Pacific leaders must strongly condemn."ENDS
ACT NOW campaign
Radio NZ International
Titi Gabi | Freelance Journalist | Papua New Guinea
Mail: PO Box 7776, Boroko, NCD, Papua New Guinea | Mob: (675) 7314 3929 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Monica Miller | KHJ Radio | American Samoa
Mob 684 258-4197 | Office 684 633-7793 | Email: email@example.com
The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media.
We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance. In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.