Testing the Strength of the Fiji Government Opposition

"Hundreds" protest ... including a "handful" of expat Fijians

Sailea Lealea at Wellington Protest
Rallies were held in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Wellington over the weekend, bringing together trade unionists, Amnesty International, church leaders and overseas itaukei to protest recent  Fiji government's alleged abuses of human rights, in particular actions against trade unions and the Methodist Church.

"Prevent people praying"?
 In Canberra, United Church mininster Rev.Gregor Henderson spoke of the denial of human freedoms.  "There are problems in Fiji but the way to solve those difficulties is not to repress civil rights, not to lock people up, not to prevent people from having meetings, not to prevent people praying, for God's sake!"

"All (worker) rights removed"?
 In Wellington, CTU president Helen Kelly said the protest would let the Fiji government know its actions are being monitored and also to put pressure on New Zealanders who are "continuing to holiday in Fiji and are being served now by hotel workers who have had all their rights removed, being transported there by transport workers who've had all their rights removed". She urged New Zealanders to pressure the regime by refusing to holiday in Fiji.

Hundreds at meetings over four cities, incuding a handful of expat Fijians
The Fiji Democracy and Freedom Movement (FDFM)  organized the Australian meetings which were apparently very poorly attended. One report had the protesters totalling "hundreds" across the four centres.
The Wellington meeting, organized by the CTU, attracted 60 people, including what was described as a "handful" of Fijians. I presume they were itaukei because previous protests attracted no support from other ethnic groups.

Absent because they were afraid?
Elisapeti Samununu Waqanivalu of the Wellington-based anti-Government blog Luvei Viti, put the poor attendance outside the Fiji High Commission down to people's fear that their relatives in Fiji would be  persecuted.

“They’re scared to be identified, they’re scared to be intimidated, or their families, that’s the reason why they’re not here."

Yet these are the same people who are urging their  relatives in Fiji to actively oppose the government.

Who are the FDFM wallahs?
The identity of the non-ethnic Fjian church and union groups protesting is known and principled, even though they have limited knowledge of the complexities of the Fiji situation.

The identity of the "handful" of itaukei supporters is becoming increasingly clear. It would seem Tui Savu's FDFM is a front for the SDL party, ousted from government by the 2006 Coup.

The SDL in exile?  A branch of the FDFM is being formed in NZ.  Its interim president is Sai Lealea whose blog Fiji Coup 2006 boasts two pages of SDL material, one the SDL Constitution.  There's nothing wrong, of course, with linking a cause to a political party (or a political party to a cause); but it would be presumptuous to then claim any broad-based support, even among overseas itaukei. It would seem the FDFM movement is the SDL in exile. I doubt the Rev. Henderson or Helen Kelly will be aware of this.

From Sai's blog
Sai Lealea says people in Fiji are showing they’ve had enough.

“The Viti Revolutionary Forces, you know, the kind of actions that have never happened since the coup, the anti-regime graffiti, labelling Bainimarama and Khaiyum as liars and evil and murderers, that’s never happened.

"And now the burning of state assets, that proves to you that people are getting fed up and there are other ways they’re going to be expressing themselves.” But Sai Lealea says the key thing is that protesters preserve some semblance of law and order." Oh, Yeah!

 Approving the use of explosive devices. On a slightly different tack, Sara'ssista,  a long-time anti-Government commentator on this blog, has at long last revealed his true self. It came in response to this challenge by someone signing himself The key to help Fiji:

" @ sara'ssista. It was always a 'given' that the use of IEDs (improvised explosive devices)  would surface. The style and the substance of the messages were leading in that direction. Now, the advocacy is overt.

So, how does this potential horror sit with you? Think long and hard before you reply. Next come the threats and the bombs and ultimately, the suicide bombers? Is that where all this leads? No way can this elicit 'back to barracks'!

The ordinary people deserve better and after twenty years, they shall have better! The safety and the welfare of ordinary Fijians will be prioritised ahead of anything else.

This only serves to clarify the position and our near neighbours in the the Pacific Forum need to know this and to digest it and to think what they propose to do constructively to assist: tell the ordinary people that they propose to help and set a time frame for this support. Entertaining extremists is hardly helpful?

To which Sara'ssista replied he was not concerned about methods:
"I have no issue whatsoever with attacking the regime. The methods don't much concern me at all, if they indeed want to step up the pressure and make the regime feel nervous and insecure, then go for it.

"Capital punishment for coup plotters would have solved this issue long ago and served as a very real deterrent.

"Libya is doing just fine, maybe they need some tips. Or perhaps CRoz would have the libyans negotiate with a tyrant and use the pacific technique of talking him to death and begging for forgiveness after."

So, now we have it. Saras'sista, who previously has expressed concern about Government methods, has no problems about these methods, and oh so moderate Sai now applauds the work of the miniscule Viti Revolutionary Forces who are probably no more than a handful of teenagers armed with spray cans.

It seems like a worn tape. Coups were okay in 1987 and 2000 when they were  our coups, and the democracy once destested (when it led to the election of two governments of which we did not approve, and called a "foreign flower" with no place in Fiji) is now approved — because it's a catchword that appeals to the Commonwealth, the EU, Australia, NZ and the US who think we are genuine democrats because we call for elections with the old "democratically elected parties"involved.

Today, Fiji is by no means a democracy, and there is no guarantee it will be even after 2014,  but it never will be with people whose primary goal is to restore ethnic Fijian hegemony. These people are —and never were— democrats. At least with Bainimarama there's a chance.--- Crosbie Walsh.


Ah no said…
Maybe FB is the chance. Our best channce. But he has a lot of internal deamons to overcome first. His words simply to not match his actions. I'm not sure he knows what he s saying or what it means half the time. How can you preach accountability but refuse to disclose salaries of the self appointed and regulated leaders ? How can you preach dialogue and then proceed to have ZERO dialogue, make decisions on the run and pursue anyone who disagrees ?
Here to stay said…
Dear Croz,

I firmly beleive that until our current PM allows new leaders and new opposition to emerge in Fiji it is the old (and often exciled) leadership whi will continue to gain headlines and influence. It may make life feel easier in Suva by having no opposition and a comlient media singing your praise but in the real world is also means you are too comfortable. It means you and your team can't possibly be performing at your best. Every government needs pressure.

So what should Frank do ? Immediately lift the PER. Allow all polititcal parties to meet (work behind the scenes to escourage new political parties). Give reasonable people incliding critics time to meet with government. Publish a detailed time line and agenda on how dialogue will work and how new constitution will be adopted.

What our PM is doing suggests he intends to continue well beyond 2014 and therefore want to keep everyone silent.
Chicken said…
Dear Mr Walsh,

Perhaps you could spend more time on exactly what steps this current government has taken in the last 12months in moving to free and fair elections.

Lets not waste much more time of these fringe elements making noise offshore.
Pro junta rally said…
Instead of criticising Fijians who publically get together to seek a return to freedom and democracy (as is their right) perhaps you should put your money where your mouth is? Why don't you and Davis organise a 'Pro Junta' rally and see where that gets you? Or are you happier sniping away at Fijians hidden behind your palagi keyboard?
sara'ssista said…
This is a military regime isn't it?. I have never hidden my preference for a quick and dramatic end to this farce. No surprise, I am entirely consistent. I am not anti- violence, the ame way i am not anti fur??!!just anti-beating up ordinaty folk by military or police thugs. Presumably the military is not anti-violence either?? I am all for eye for an eye.Don't presume to lecture me and claim some feigned surprise when I discuss and support regime change. I didn't see a popular movement and street protests either during the last days of the previous government, however flawed but I note how very quiet others were when non-military citizens were frog marched out of their offcies to make was for this regime.The difference is that i am pefectly comfortable with my stance, are you with yours?(given the litany of abuses by this regime that you so quickly rush to defend)
sara'ssista said…
BTW, i never claimed or implied i wish to 'restore ethnic fijian hegemony' and i do beleve in any coups, at all.It is you that makes that distinction. But for THIS military regime to bleat about deomcracy, rights, violence and disorder is a joke, even on you surely.
sister saras said…
"president disolve cabinet" is the latest on C4.5 signed by VRF.

It is so obvious that VRF does not exist. Firstly, a deliberate error mis-spelling "disolve". Secondly, calling Frank's admin a "cabinet" when they previously called him and his govt all the dirty names under the sun. Reminds me of the fraudsters of SDL era.
Anonymous said…
If truly the people are afraid and there is danger to their families in Fiji, why take the risk and expose the innocent? Fiji did not need a military force. It was created to secure the rule of the chiefs and elites when they lost in democratic elections. In 1987 it fulfilled its mission and in 2000 it was unsure, dragged its feet and ultimately helped restore the governance in the hands of those who had lost power. Subsequently, the mutiny formented by the chiefs and elites to oust FB and appoint their stooge backfired, though with unfortunate loss of eight lives. FB not only won the battle but also came to realise that the sole purpose of the military in Fiji was to serve the interests of the chiefs and ethnonationalists. FB nearly lost his life in the power struggle. He turned like a raging bull against the perpetrators who fled helter-skelter. Don't complain, taste the medicine! It is always dangerous to ride on the tiger, knowing that one day you will have to dismount and be devoured by it. Democracy was a foreign flower and now you accuse your own sons and daughters in the uniform for treachery! No you don't want democracy - only thing you want is restoration of power in the hands of the chiefs and nationalists! Hypocrites!
sister saras said…
I have information that VRF is for real. The govt official I spoke to said that the VRF will be in full force by the end of 2013 or early 2014. The phone line dropped out, and could not be re-established. I will try again tomorrow morning and report my findings. Stay tuned.
Arya Samaji said…
"Foreign Flower", aka "DEMOCRACY", is what we all want in our garden today. The difference is that the chiefs and methos want it now by hook or crook. Oz and NZ want it now regardless. The silent majority want a proper election on a level playing field. Lets take a look at the coups in Fiji:

Coup No.1: By Ratu Sir George Cakobau, appointing Ratu Sir KKT Mara as PM when Mr Koya of NFP won the election.

Coups 2&3: By Rabuka in May and Sept, 1987.

Coup 4: By SP8
We have had 4 coups sponsored by chiefs and methos.

2006 is not a coup in reality, technically it is. It is a cleanup campaign and we are less than half way thru it. It is the same as saying that Gillard is the Pm of Oz, but effectively, it is Bob Brown.

We dont entertain inteference from chiefs anymore, methos are taken care of, thanks to PER, and I sincerely hope it stays till 2014.

Perhaps the next task is to cleanup the Sanatan Dharam perceived supremacy of the Brahmins. It is as bad, if not worse, than that of chiefs.
sister saras said…
I can now confirm that VRF is "Voter Registration Form". The VRF that C4.5 is harping on about, virtually does not exist. There is no such thing as per govt sources. However, what does exist in Fiji and growing by the day is, common identity and brotherhood amongst all, regardless of race, colour or creed. This is something never ever seen under any previous govts.
Islands in the Stream said…
What is going to happen with all the expat Fijians in New Zealand? Do they propose to stay? Even those with records of malfeasance in Fiji which may be proven? Even those who assisted in undermining the May 2006 elections from the ennumeration right through to voting and counting? They know who they are and yet New Zealand appears to have given them asylum. Now they sing and dance for 'democracy'? Which democracy, pray, are they talking about? A democracy which permits violence, arson and blocking of the Queen's Highway for monetary gain? A democracy which permits the use of the methodist church as a vehicle for their message of exclusion and hatred? A democracy which will once again yield to partisan prejudice but live off the money of those on whom they prey? They taxpayers of Fiji.
sister saras said…
@Islands in the Stream
Those empty vessels that sing and dance for democracy are totally insignificant. They were advocates of "FOREIGN FLOWER" not too long ago. What is of utmost importance to John Key is the huge chunk of ex-Fijians in key electorates. The outcome of the PIF meeting in Auckland, in relation to Fiji, will decide whether John Key gets a second term or not.

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