By Hayley J. Campbell
Impunity Watch Senior Desk Officer, Oceania
SUVA, Fiji – Prime Ministers from Australia and New Zealand are speaking out against a call for Fijians to rise up against the country’s military regime.
Last week, at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Cairns, Niue Premier, Toke Talagi, told the people of Fiji that if they want to restore democracy, they must rise up and claim it for themselves.
“The people of Fiji must be responsible for constructing their own destiny,” Talagi said. He added, “I wonder, sometimes, whether people realise you can’t shoot 500,000 Fijians.”
Meanwhile, New Zealand and Australia have shown their disapproval of Talagi’s message, despite their condemnation of Fiji interim PM, Commodore Frank Bainimarama for delaying democratic elections.
Mr. John Key, New Zealand PM, told reporters that he would not support Fijians in an uprising against the interim government.
“We have encouraged Frank Bainimarama to engage with former leaders in Fiji…and we think that’s the right course of action, not some sort of uprising against the military coup,” Key said.
Australian PM, Kevin Rudd, said “I would emphasise in absolutely clear-cut terms the importance of a peaceful solution to the problems which exist within Fiji.” He added, “They are real problems and that is one of the reasons why the countries of the Pacific Islands Forum agreed on a mechanism for the suspension of Fiji.”
But Talagi says he was not pushing violence, but rather, hoped the people of Fiji would find a way to peacefully protest the military regime.
The Pacific Islands Forum, an organization of Pacific leaders from 16 nation states, chose to suspend Fiji from the group after Bainimarama refused to hold elections by May 2009 as originally promised.
For more information, please see:
National Business Review – Key plays down call for uprising in Fiji – 06 August 2009
ABC News – Rudd plays down call for Fijian uprising – 05 August 2009
New Tang Dynasty Television – Pacific Leaders Express Concern over Fiji – 05 August 2009