By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania
WELLINGTON, New Zealand– New Zealand politicians are criticizing the United Nations for using Fiji’s troops for peacekeeping, claiming they are propping up the military regime. Foreign Minister, Murray McCully, said the UN was assisting the military regime that has stripped citizens of rights and shut down freedom of speech. Mr. McCully explained, “They sustain the interim regime both in terms of credibility and in terms of cash.”
Foreign affairs spokesman of the Green Party, Keith Locke, said, “The UN is helping fund Fiji’s military rulers by continuing to recruit Fijian military personnel for peacekeeping missions.” Mr. Locke said there are 282 Fijian troops currently involved in peacekeeping missions, a number that has remained about the same since before the coup in 2006.
Mr. Locke continued, “It is deeply ironic that Fiji is involved in rebuilding Iraq. Fiji’s military is more about destroying democracy than restoring it.”
He has also called on New Zealand to pressure other nations, such as the United States and Britain, to act on the issue. Many former Fijian soldiers work for the United Kingdom and United States private security firms, and there are more than 2,000 Fijians serving with the British Army.
Phil Goff, New Zealand Opposition leader and former minister of foreign affairs and defense, also wants to pressure Britain and the United Nations to stop employing Fijian soldiers. Mr. Goff says that after the latest developments in Fiji more pressure must be applied.
“It’s absolutely inappropriate to have Fijian peacekeepers trying to bring good governance in other countries in the world when the Fiji [military] has overthrown democratic governance in Fiji. If the UN made that decision to send the Fijian peacekeepers home immediately that would impact very seriously on the military,” Mr. Goff said.
Mr. Goff says the same should apply to the Fijians in the British military.
For more information, please see:
3 News – NZ politicians criticise UN for using Fiji troops – 15 April 2009
New Zealand Press Association – NZ Politicians Criticise UN For Using Fiji Troops – 15 April 2009
Radio New Zealand International – NZ opposition leader calls for UK and UN to stop employing Fiji soldiers – 20 April 2009