Australia's Elite Sources of Information on Fiji
"Just because the people polled expressed views that conflicted with what the Australian government believes the Fiji people think does not make the poll ridiculous. Thanks in large part to the Fiji regime's restrictions on free speech, the Australian government has relied on the views largely of elites – academics, NGO leaders, Fijians with chiefly status, former politicians, some businesspeople, blogs written largely by Fiji citizens residing in Australia and New Zealand – to inform its views of what the Fiji people think.
"With the exception of the occasional taxi driver, the people diplomats rely on for information and opinions tend not to be gardeners, textile workers, nurses, teachers, shop staff or unemployed people. Such people probably don't come to the attention of the regime in Fiji, and they may not feel as fearful as outspoken critics of the regime about the consequences of expressing an opinion.
"Unless there is clear evidence (not just an assumption) that the 1036 people surveyed felt intimidated and lied about their true feelings, there is no reason to dismiss the poll."
Click here to read her comments in full.
Meanwhile, Amnesty International, relying on these same sources of information, thought a popular uprising similar to the Middle East and North Africa "is not impossible in Fiji." Amnesty's Secretary General Salil Shetty was speaking of what he called "reports of torture and other human rights violations in Fiji" which he said were "worsening.. ... If this level of violation of human rights continues and if people don’t have a voice and if they have no basic freedoms, in my view it’s a matter of time.” Mr Shetty took up his AI appointment in December 2009 and to my knowledge has no firsthand experience of Fiji or the Pacific.