Milking the Violence Video
WEEKEND READING •Allen Lockington Column • The Relevance of Venezuela to Fiji • Ghai Prejudiced from the start. I think Not by Crosbie Walsh.
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THE VIOLENCE VIDEO. This incident is being "milked" to the limit. Few of those protesting seem to know that the incident is in police hands and that already two security personnel have been dismissed. The Australian Senate and the NZ Parliament have condemned the beating, and meetings in Auckland and Wellington were yesterday addressed by MPs, trade unionists and Amnesty International speakers, whose knowledge of Fiji, I suspect, is based largely on hearsay prompted by anti-Bainimarama government groups in both cities. The speeches were on "the rule of independent law, freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of religion, freedom of the media and the inhumane treatment of people in Fiji." The media here sees Fiji in blacks and whites, black for Bainimarama and whites for "democrats" like Ratu Tevita Mara. There is no attempt at balance or analysis.quality of government services
Nothing is ever mentioned about what the Bainimarama Government has done to remove legislative racism, to treat citizens equally, to give all equal access to scholarships and education, to assist the poor, to promote development in neglected rural areas, to improve physical infrastructure, to protect women and children, or to improve the quality and accessibility of government services. The average New Zealander has only the haziest notion of what it happening in Fiji, and most people visiting or living in Fiji would not recognize the image created.
The impression created is one of a nation living in fear, where there is no law and order, the judiciary is compromised, no one can say what they think, the media is muzzled, and people are routinely tortured. The impression is not totally wrong. It has elements of truth. There are restrictions that apply to some people and to the media. Police and corrections officers are sometimes heavy handed (this has always been so) but for the most part the restrictions are temporary and are aimed at maintaining stability as the country shapes a new future. They are directed at people of the old political order that constantly seeks to undermine government reforms. The ordinary Fijian is unaffected.
When I read even one informed, balanced account of what is happening in Fiji and why, or hear one on TV or the radio, I will be more inclined to believe in freedom of the media — in New Zealand.