By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania
SUVA, Fiji – The Pacific Islands News Association(PINA) has asked the Pacific Islands Forum to take a stand and demand that the Fiji military regime respect media freedom.
PINA has condemned the regime’s recent actions in censoring news produced by the regional news service, Pacnews. Pacnews no longer carries any stories of the Fiji crisis. They also want a strong regional stand on what they have called “the ongoing flagrant abuse of democratic rights in Fiji.”
PINA President, Joseph Ealedona, says the group is calling upon Fiji President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, to restore media freedom for the sake of the Fiji people. Mr. Ealedona says the people are reluctant to criticize the regime due to the military’s intimidation. Mr. Ealedona wants the region to focus on the Fiji ban during May’s Media and Press Freedom day.
Mr. Ealedona has also said it is very important that the regional body stays in Fiji despite the censorship.
“I think it is very important that PINA remains there and does not show to the interim regime that we are running away. The media in Fiji needs PINA there. As far as the situation continues like that we will remain there,” Mr. Ealedona said.
Last week, PINA journalist Pita Ligaiula was detained overnight for unfavorable reports. A source has also reported that PINA has received threatening phone calls. For now, radio transmitters that broadcast international services remain switched off, access to internet cafes has been limited, and interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has hinted that censorship will continue.
For more information, please see:
Nine MSN – UN ‘utterly hypocritical’ over Fiji – 22 April 2009
Radio New Zealand International – PINA calls for strong stand against Fiji censorship – 24 April 2009
Radio New Zealand International – PINA chief says it is important to stay in Fiji despite pressure from regime – 24 April 2009