It Takes Guts, But More than Guts is Needed

By Crosbie Walsh

I take my hat off to Jagath Karunaratne. named after the Buddhist concept of compassion. He is a courageous man who attacks Government and then accidentally exposes the ineptness of its political opponents — and his own political preferences. .

Accused and convicted last year along with another three others for spraying political graffiti at several locations around Suva calling for violent action against the Bainimarama government, he faced up to the Attorney-General at a public consultation at Rishikul last week and asked very blunt  and, at first glance, reasonable questions on immunity, the Ghai draft constitution and the elections. 
Asked to elaborate by Coup 4.5, he said he cannot accept the Bainimarama Government because it is illegal. His focus seems to be on what he sees as infringements that limit political participation. He seems unconcerned about the positive things Government has done with which, in other circumstances, he may agree. He wants to believe in free and fair elections but doubts this is likely given the "hindrances placed placed by way of law on political parties." He wants broader participation in the political process, and questions Government's claim that it has nationwide support for its reforms,  but then, curiously, he asks which "NGOs, religious groups and others" support Government. 
This, of course, is the major obstacle to public participation, and indeed to democracy, in Fiji. Most of the  people and organizations that speak out against Government represent the views of the old Fiji, with its racial divisions and personal agendas. Indeed, Jagath concedes as much in his statement to Coup 4.5:

"While they [the political parties] are struggling to bring out the truth [sic!] to the public due to the prevailing conditions in Fiji today and the obstacles placed upon political parties, they are finding it difficult to play their usual role [sic!] as political leaders" (my emphasis). 
It is here that we have the first inkling that Jagath's call for action is not all that it may seem to be. He is not calling for new political parties or new leaders with a different vision for Fiji or offering to personally be a part of new approaches, though he does question the tactics of the old politicians.

"What are our (sic!) leaders doing, he asks:
 "We currently have the political leaders who are issuing statements every other day screaming for democracy, claiming the current administration is not legitimate while abiding to every single decree thrown at them which is clearly confusing the general public."

He looks to these old leaders for a "vision and plan for the people of Fiji in the event they succeed in overthrowing (sic!) the current administration." 
Here he is again. Back to his old graffiti days in 2011, calling for violence. He goes on to say he wants a "principled approach to address all the issues which you yourselves as traditional leaders are raising.." But it is unclear what the principles are. 

All he calls for is a change of tactics: Stop playing the Government's game, he says. In calling for a referendum on the draft constitution (and possibly on the future prime minister) you are accepting the illegal government's process. And what happens if the public vote in support of government? 
He continues:
"Aren’t we [the leaders] going to become a laughing stock? Most of all a scenario as such goes ahead with a referendum and any possible win by the current administration will make their whole process legitimate and firm as a rock."
Aha! A possible win? So the Government must have some support.

But we should be grateful to him for exposing the total lack of direction by the old leadership other than returning things to how they were, as has been commented upon several times in this blog:

"As political leaders you need to change your game plan, come up with a road map for new Fiji, how are you going to remove the current administration and adapt your road map, how is it going to affect the people in Fiji as a whole, how are you planning to address their issues and most of all who are proposing as the next possible administration whether it is interim or otherwise. This is where you confuse the people and also show them that you do not have a plan A or B or C.
"If you are unable to come up with a road map for Fiji, then we as people of Fiji would accept the known devil than the unknown angel as the only leadership we can see with at least some plans. If you do not have a clear roadmap then how are you going to get the international community on your side as by the looks of things the only thing they care now is elections? They are eagerly waiting to the current administration to be legitimized to join hands openly and go on their usual business."

I need not go on. Jagath presents himself a reasonable man though something of a martyr for the cause. And, as you read though his article in Coup 4.5, it is increasingly clear what this cause is. Free elections, yes, but with the old politicians and chiefs back in power again.. Not free elections and any whiff of a Government victory. 

 No wonder Coup 4.5 asked him to elaborate on the opinions he expressed to the Attorney-General — and no wonder the A-G  dismissed them, prior warned by Jagath's behaviour of his deeper purposes. Forward to the past, by any means.


Anonymous said…
So when was he convicted croz?
Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Anonymous ... I think you've saying he wasn't. If so, say so. Don't play smart games. Make your comments informative and helpful.
Gatekeeper said…
The most revealing element in Jagath Karunaratne's revelatory piece on coup4.5 is this: thirteen (13) references to 'I' and 'My': most at the commencement of a paragraph. Now, some of us were trained to detect such weaknesses in presenting an argument; be it a political or any other one. Here in the Pacific, we habitually refer to ourselves as "we" - not the royal 'we' mind you but the inclusive 'we'. To show that we have a mandate of some kind and that we have consulted with meaningful others. In making what appears at times to be a reasonable line of argument, Mr Karunaratne fails to attract our necessary support on this revealing lapse. He reveals a weakness which is all too common in those with political ends in view. Are his ends also those of violent action? Because if they are, then the "Duty to Protect the innocent" comes into play. All States are obliged by International Law and by UN Conventions to protect the innocent from violence. This is precisely why Bashar Al Assad, President of Syria, finds himself in such dire straits. Has he crossed the chemical weapons red line? We are endeavouring to determine that now.

Has Mr Karunaratne attempted to cross another red line? That is the line of violence for political purposes which in everyday parlance is now known as terrorism. Because we shall not tolerate the Tamil Tiger approach here. A message to you and to your associates: Do not attempt to put us to this test, Mr Karunaratne. We shall NOT be found wanting!
Anonymous said…
When was he convicted croz?
If he was, then was it for torture or murder? If he was a member of the human rights abusing illegal regime it would be ok. They get off scot free for their crimes aginst humanity.
So when was he convicted again?
Gatekeeper bis said…
@Q Anonymous

Your question concerning a conviction is beyond the argument to be addressed now. It is the argument concerning the justification for acts of political violence which may involve the innocent as collateral damage. Your associates should look to this first and foremost. Arguments concerning immunity while fully relevant are secondary to this. Sit quietly and reflect awhile. Something not too often resorted to by the Men of Violence (and they generally are men although not always). We shall not tolerate acts of violence again for political ends. We shall stand up and declare that we shall not both publicly and privately. Prepare yourselves!
Anonymous said…
So when was he convicted croz?
Gatekeeper - trois fois said…
@ Anonymous

So, it is not yet a conviction. However, a case may allegedly be made for pre-emptive remand if it can be substantiated that violence is being advocated for political ends. Let us look to Canada for leadership in this regard and the RCMP. May we assume that Karunaratne was not in Fiji in the year 2000? Was he present on Fiji soil when hostages were taken and kept at Parliament in an act of terrorism for 56 days? Does he know what this entailed? The suffering and the prolonged stand-off that followed? The trauma that still endures? If he has any inkling of this, he will desist from any suggestion of advocacy of violence. He will reassure the public of Fiji that this is not his purpose nor his ideological end. There is no patience for this any longer in Fiji. Rest assured that you will be told so, plainly and clearly. Your Fellow Travellers with you. Pre-emptive action will be required for any agitation or mere suggestion. There are ample, respectable international examples. This time around, the innocents shall be protected. Canada has shown the way: last week.
Query? said…
Simple and straightforward query: Is this man a "Reluctant Fundamentalist"? Courtesy Film Director Mira Nair.
Anonymous said…
Constipation again?
john said…
This gentleman has broken the law more than once. His graffiti campaign was bad enough and now he has the audacity to challenge our AG with insightful questions. Does he not see that no Fijian ever does such a thing? Does he not see that this government is respected by the people of Fiji and by the better part of the international community. And why did the AG not have him arrested for inciting disaffection right there on the spot? He is a foreigner and he should leave it to Fijians to sort out their affairs. He should go back to Sri Lanka where his obnoxious style may be appreciated.
john said…
How dare you insulting Croz? Are you really that smart? This guy has not yet been convicted, we all know that. But he will be, we know that too. And he will also face another charge because what he did when he dared to challenge the AG was clearly inciting disaffection with our government.
Anonymous said…
we now have junta groupie diarhea? Ha ha ha.
Crosbie Walsh said…
@ Jagath called for courage. I don't see this in the five people hiding behind the Anonymous title. Or is it the same person? It takes only a little courage, but a moderate amount of intelligence, to use a pseudonym instead of Anonymous. Then, we'd have some idea who we are talking to. It appears I'm incorrect. Jagath was not convicted. I invited the first Anonymous to tell me so. Still waiting. but if I'm incorrect, what's the issue? It was a very minor part of the article. Why don't the Anonymouses(repeat mouses) address the issues raised in the article? I'm reminded of chihuahua. Good for snapping at heels and barking, but not much else.
rusi said…
the usual contemptable rant from Croz where he seems to accept that his target hasn't been convicted of anything.'And what happens if the public vote in support of government?' yes we all know what will happen if they don't get the outcome they demand!!! We see a forensic examnination of Jagath just as sprited as the defense of this regime in ANYTHING they do, including the recent prisoner beatings and the excuses oh did flow... a beat up of course. Typically presumptuous of what others motivation arem and what they must be thinking, but Croz does come up short never looking too closely at his regime. Look who 'plays games' with the rights of Fijians, easy to be a blogger from the very cheap seats in NZ, eh Croz?? BTW rather galling to hear Croz 'tut tut' over Jagath calling for violence whwne we only have too look at the pronouncements from his masters mouth (Bainimarama), not a well known pacifist and quick to declare other 'deserve what they get'.
rusi said…
on yer Croz attack the man.
desmond said…
Oh but Croz, you re not for persuadin', you are a card carrying regime supporter through beatings, abuse, cronyism etc. Unless we all agree with you an bainipajamas and his poodle khaiyum, you wouldn't be happy!!
Anonymous said…
Are you having a little hysterical hissy fit? Poor old boy? Like your mate Col Toptugger, if you can't handle the heat get out of the kitchen. Stop your squealing like a road kill goose.
Anonymous said…
Is this guy Jagath a Fijian citizen? How long has he been in Fiji. When did he leave Sri Lanka?
Anonymous said…
Yes, and he was involved in some dodgy deals with the government? He has an interesting history to say the least..some say he is a conman
Gatekeeper said…
If this man was in any way responsible for the arson attacks on Police Bure in the Western Division last year, he is a person not to be trusted with the safety and security of society. 'Inciting Others' by whatever means to violent action will not be tolerated. So, breaking his cover was a foolish move. Ego holds sway - the 'I' and 'My' give it away.
john said…
Stop insulting Croz! He is the only source of truth if it comes to matters in Fiji. He knows the country better than most Fijians and has excellent contacts throughout the society. He is a brave and honest, world class academic who is not afraid to raise controversial issues. In fact he is the only one who understands Fiji.
The need to Act as One said…
We might consider at length that in Canada last week, it was an Imam from a Toronto mosque who provided the information which saw two alleged 'jihadists' pre-emptively arrested. The grounds of arrest? That they were planning a well-advanced plot to attack a train due to travel between Toronto and NYC. The community must act 'As One' in such instances. In the UK, six were arrested also last week in similar circumstances. In Boston, USA three young men, one US citizen and two from Kazakstan, are now facing Federal charges for assisting in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings. They helped to dispose of the laptop computer. How silly can you get?
Anonymous said…
the source of truth on fiji residing in NZ?? Another 'non fijian' helping fijians i see.On top of other NZlanders, Aussies, Srilankans, chinese and Indians so much 'help' for such a small country.

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