Amnesty Imprecision, Walking Out of Poverty, PM Touring Northern Division, Electronic Voter Registration, Al Jazeera Better

Scroll down for WEEKEND READINGS. See new QUOTE FOR  THE WEEK in the right sidebar.

N0188. THE PROTEST THAT WASN'T. I have no complaint with Amnesty International reporting alleged torture for political reasons.  This is their job, and I support it.  But they should exercise care with what they are told and not inflate the story.

While awaiting their NZ CEO's reply to my enquiry about their sources and steps take to verify what they are told, here is a comment on their latest press release.

Headed "Torture and Detentions in Fiji" (UA:51/11 Index ASA 18/002/2011 Fiji) they report the alleged "detention and torture ... [of] ... seven young men from a settlement outside Suva" and presumed it took place because they were talking about the demonstration (see below) and then went on to say they "feared more people [would] be arrested and subject to torture and ill-treatment in the next few days as the military attempts to prevent plans for a peaceful protest demonstration against the government."

AI tells us "The soldiers warned the young men that they would be killed if they spoke to anyone about their treatment at the camp." Well, they did talk, otherwise we would know nothing about the incident, and the young men are still alive.  No further detentions have followed. And no demonstration took place.

The "peaceful protest demonstration" (AI knew it would be peaceful before it took place!) supposed to have taken place on Saturday was discussed in my blog last week (N0169) under the heading "God, Satan and the Beast."  These were the words of its organizer who also called ethnic Fijians "God's Chosen People." AI said nothing about the rantings of this man.

Apparently, the military were successful in preventing the protest march, no one turned up, not even the seven young men. Last year's attempt by the the Sydney-based organizer to organize a protest march also failed but whether this was a result of intimidation or lack of support, or a bit of both, we do not know.

From the earliest days of the Bainimarama Coup, anti-government elements have been organising phantom marches and protests.  It started with deposed PM Laisenia Qarase who said,  "I believe there will be a peaceful reaction by thousands and thousands in the next few days." That was in December 2006.

AI is right in protesting torture —if it took place— but they should be more precise in their accusations and avoid exaggeration.  They write, "At least ten" [people] have been detained. If they mean they know of ten, they should say so, and not suppose there are others. They mention "at least two politicians" were arrested but they do not even name them. They write of "severe beatings and other forms of torture." What other forms of torture? Only severe beatings were reported by Sam Speight and Apisai Tawake to ABC's Bruce Hill — and Speight denied he'd been beaten with rifle butts.  There was no mention of nail extractions, water boarding, electricity used on genitals.  By leaving the accusation vague, readers are left to ponder what could be worse than a severe beating.

I'd also like to know which " settlement outside Suva." If it was Kalabo, the village was a hotbed of support for the 2000 Speight Coup and a proposed rallying point for Methodists protesting the cancellation of their annual convention. And I wonder whether the youths included —or were influenced by—  Peter Waqavonovono, President of Fiji’s Young People’s Concerned Network, a long-time government opponent. These details are important because they could shed light on why the military took the youth's actions so seriously.

But most of all AI should be more careful of their sources and the dubious cause they unintentionally support.  Otherwise they will be taken as the Mad Hatter holding forth for the March Hare —or, worse still, as the Dormouse. Google Wikipedia if you don't know anything about  these characters in Alice in Wonderland.  The illustration shows the Mad Hatter and the March Hare trying to put the Dormouse in a teapot.

POSTSCRIPT. RadioAustraliaNews reports Australian-based organiser, Suliasi Daunitutu, as saying the demonstration was called off because of a heavy police and military presence at Albert Park. My information is that they were at the nearby Magistrates' Court "because Qaranivalu was being sentenced and his people were assembled there to await the Judge's ruling." Daunitutu numbered the demonstrators  at "about 40 or a little bit over that."

N0189. WORK ON PILLAR 8 OF THE CHARTER. The first of more empowerment workshops organised by Government planned for this year was held at Lami last week. The workshop aimed at enabling people in nearby informal settlements to ‘Stand up and Walk’ and ‘Stand up and Talk’ out of poverty. The five-day workshop was co-sponsored  by the PM's Office Poverty Eradication Unit and the People’s Community Network (PCN).The workshops are aligned to Pillar 8 of the People’s Charter for Change, Peace and Progress of Reducing Poverty to a Neglible Level by 2015.

One participant said the workshop  "had opened up his mind to social issues that he did not think much about on such as teenage pregnancies, unemployment, glue sniffing and young families who were unemployed." He said he also learnt not to become ‘powerless’ and ‘voiceless’ and to always question ‘why’ things happened in order to get to the root causes of problems. Another said it had helped her to do something about unemployment. -- Based on No.0541/MOI. 

N0190. VANUA LEVU TOUR. The PM will tour the three provinces of Cakaudrove, Bua and Macuata in the Northern Division this week to see progress on Government road and agricultural projects.

N0191. VOTER REGISTRATION
will probably be done electronically. Acting Supervisor of Elections, Soro Toutou, said under this system they are confident of having an accurate  database with all the voter information before the 2014 Elections. He said there had been "some shortfalls in the last General Elections which they are addressing."

N0192. CLINTON SAYS AL JAZEERA HAS REAL NEWS  unlike most US media.  I wish they'd take up reporting on Fiji.  Real news in the international media is desperately needed.

Comments

Verifying information from Fiji said…
Croz
How would you suggest information (or lack of) coming from Fiji? The Ministry of Information does not provide any information on detention of persons by military personnel? The media is heavily censored and is not allowed to say anything critical of the unelected regime? There is a PER in place to repress any views other than those of the military regime?
Increasingly I am becoming of the view there will be no elections in 2014, and if there are they will be a total sham. The future of Fiji as a free and democratic nation looks very bleak indeed under the current repression and intimidation?
wader said…
To be fair Croz we really don't know who or how many would turn up to a proptest of any kind in Fiji. The reason is because they are not allowed under the PER and the consequences are very very serious. Look at those rekigious leaders who alledegedy breached the PER. Even with out the PER i doubt there are many people these days who would want to be markef as 'anti the military gov' because we all know that life can get very difficult.

I actually don't think many people would rally even without a PER. Still the one group of people who do believe this would happen (and fear it) are the military. Otherwise why would they ban all such gatherings.

If the PM is realy committed to democracy in 2014 why would he fear a "democracy rally" ???
Real News said…
Croz
In recent weeks the international media has been reporting the detention of persons by the Fiji military. No such reporting has taken place in the heavily censored Fiji media. Which one do you think an unbiased objective person would say is 'real news'?
Do you not feel people in Fiji have a right to know if the military are placing their family and friends in detention? That seems to me a very basic right?
Imprimatur said…
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is right when she says that Al Jazeera has real news. They certainly are interested in giving insights which the ABC, BBC and CNN often fail to provide. It might be said that these last three TV Stations are often formulaic in their reporting. But Al Jazeera provides an authentic window into the lives of the people we might never see or hear and it does this in a manner which is devoid of fanfare and stridency. We are very fortunate now in Fiji to have access to this range of current affairs stations and our understanding and world view should improve considerably from it and the on-line access they offer. Going beyond borders is fundamental to a broadening and depth of vision.
Corruption Trial in France said…
@ Real News....

The Real News from France is that the former President of France and Mayor of Paris, Jacques Chirac, is now to face trial for: Embezzelment, Abuse of Office and Conflict of Interest when he was Mayor. This case has been coming on for years. During his tenure as President he was immune from prosecution. Watch this case closely. Public Money is at stake and how it was used by a former Parisian Mayor. A most useful examination of his political life and the use of 'dodgy finances' - as someone has commented. France 2 TV asserts that Jacques Chirac is the most popular politician in France just now. What does that tell us of the French? What does that say of the perception of honesty in France? Ten years in prison? The penalty he faces.
Anonymous said…
Has photographic evidence of those bashed by the military been circulated on the web? I haven't seen any.
ON & ON ad infinitum.... said…
@ Anonymous.....

No photographic evidence because there almost certainly is none. Just bleating and pathetic appeals to public sympathy. None of this in 2000/2001 and thereafter? Full of self-promoting and boring soliloquys in Parliament: oblique, unfocused and contrary to the interests of most sensible voters. This multiply-challenged individual looks down surrounded by his 35 supporting Ministers/Assistant Ministers - all paid from the Public Purse and absolutely oblivious to it! Determined to go on and on.....ad infinitum.
Croz Walsh said…
@ Wader ... I presume you read what the march organizer wrote. I doubt he or most of the other SDL people in Australia want democracy as it is generally understood. The SDL-CAMV government from 2000-2006 showed what they mean by democracy: a Fiji for sections of the ethnic Fijian elite.
Gaddafi and his Friends said…
@ Wader

Tantamount to believing the Muammar al Qaddafi had a workable 'democracy'? Accountable to the masses? He is proud to say that he has no institutions, he has no ostensible government just some organisation on the ground, funded by the very people he is now so ably killing and demoralizing with guns, tanks and aircraft provided to him by eager Western democracies. What a moral shambles it is. And he has close friends in Fiji and has done for forty years! Who are these friends? Expect anything. But the PER must needs remain while his friends remain.
PUBLIC & private MONEY said…
Corruption Trial in Fiji .... POST FIJI

Following former French President Jacques Chirac's arraignment based on his ten years as Mayor of Paris and allegedly paying his political friends and allies for "Bogus Jobs", the POST FIJI Trial is now near. This also involves the alleged misuse of public money. A confusion of the Public with the Private?
Anonymous said…
There is photographic evidence of Ben Padarath's treatment at the Military camp in Coupfourpointfive and the photograph looks authentic. Is this why there's a police investigation going on at the camp - according to Fiji tv news.

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