By Angela Marie Watkins
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania
SUVA, Fiji – Two detained Methodist leaders were released on bail Friday but warned not to meet.
The Reverend Manasa Lasaro and the Reverend Tomasi Kanailagi, both former Fiji Methodist Church presidents, appeared in court Friday afternoon on charges of contravening the Public Emergency Regulations.
The ministers were among several top clergymen arrested by police because of plans to go ahead with the church’s annual conference in spite of its cancellation by the interim government.
The interim government has banned the conference on the grounds that is is a political maneuvers by the ousted SDL Party but as yet the church has not issued an official statement canceling the event.
The SDL’s member for the Lami Open Constituency, Mere Tuisalolo Samisoni, says the Methodists make up the majority of Fiji’s population and the interim government is wrong to ban the conference.
“The people’s spririt cannot be stopped and that’s what democracy is all about. People’s right to choose, it’s a human right and that right is inalienable and for somebody to come, for a group of elite people to stop it, they cannot stop it. I mean it is the people who will choose to attend it or not,” Samisoni said.
Thursday, the church’s president and general secretary, along with the country’s highest ranking female chief, were also released on bail but prohibited from making public statements.
For more information, please see:
New Zealand International Radio – Church will never back down says Fiji’s SDL Party – 24 July 2009
New Zealand International Radio – Two more Fiji Methodist leaders released but warned not to meet – 24 July 2009
New Zealand International Radio – Fiji’s interim government accused of overstepping mark with church – 24 July 2009
The Christian Post – Fiji Church Leaders Freed, But Warned Not To Meet – 24 July 2009