I thought you might be interested to read this. It's part of an e-mail I received from a Fijian friend of mine who lives in Suva, talking about the current military coup and her thoughts on the whole thing.
Its a bit frustrating and makes me angry. I actually just switched off the past 2 weeks, I refused to watch the news, read the newspaper or attend any of coalition meetings. It made me all nervous, angry, felt hopeless and very disappointed. But this week I couldn't resist any more. I just had to get back into the game haha On Christmas, 2 of my friends got picked up by the military and threatened. The guys were beaten up quite badly and they were made to run in the rain, do push ups, and were locked in a cell for a few hours. My friend's partner was separated from the group, I don't know if its because he was the only non fijian or non activist, but he was still beaten and kicked around. What was more shocking was the comment made by the human rights commissioner. She said that people should watch what they say about the military and human rights were limited such as freedom of speech, of association, of assembly etc. Despite the fact that the constitution is still in place.
So what's the reason behind the coup? Many ask if it's between Fijians and Indians. No its not. The illegal take over of our democratically elected government is the culmination and surfacing of a long ferment over an unsettled account arising from the coup of 2000. The military has not been happy that many of the coup 2000 perpetrators have enjoyed positions of power in the government with little or only token attempt to have them face the law.
The democratically elected government has nationalist leanings and had instigated racist policies to keep the indigenous Fijian vote. For example, the upper echelons of the civil service is dominated by indigenous Fijians.
The government had over the last few years delayed the process of introducing and passing an Act on the Freedom of Information and on a Leadership Code as well as an Anti-Corruption Legislation. These would have helped the populace monitor the decisions and activities of government as well as deter too much corruption which has drained the national economy of millions of dollars. For example, the national bank saga cost us about $300million altogether. This could have paid for the whole of the nation's teachers salaries over three years and more! We have just completed a trial on the Agriculture scam where the party that won the elections had bought votes through provision of agricultural implements etc to rural voters and corrupt deals with equipment suppliers.
The democratically elected government had introduced a bill that would have given amnesty to the perpetrators of coup 2000 withou fair trial.This bill and the latest qoliqoli bill on ownership of fisheries and coastal marine areas have divided our nation.
All the above have caused bitter divisions between the military and the government with many citizen's groups taking stands that were similar to the military's stand on the issues. However, as our democracy was alive we as citizens were able to show objection to the bills that we did not agree with and forced government to go back to the drawing board.
The military has not been as patient. They have not respected the rule of law and the right of a democratically elected government - no matter how corrupt, to produce legislations as it thinks fit.
This is now our situation. It is not a conflict between decendants of Indian immigrants and indigenous Fijians as has been relayed by some overseas. The military is almost all indigenous Fijians. The government it ousted was also almost all indigenous Fijians.
The Commander had stated that he was acting to "clean up" the government that had become so corrupt. This has made many people ambivalent about his latest illegal actions.
Our group - the Coalition for Democracy and Peace - is clear that we have to defend the principle of democracy and uphold our constitution. If we give in to this military take over, no matter what the reason, we shall embedd a little more deeply in our national psyche the acceptance of military coups as a means of getting rid of democratically elected governments that we do not agree with.
Okay I better shut up now before I get into trouble...you won't be forwarding this to any military personnels will you?