Accusations of Sedition

A week ago, and not for the first time, the social media wrongly claimed Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had been arrested by the military, inferring unrest in the armed forces that was denied by both government and the military.   At the time,  it was just another example of misinformation spread by anti-Government elements in their  rolling campaign to perpetuate ethnic division, uncertainty and unrest.

A month ago, Ratu Epeli Niudamu of Ra province and 15 others were charged with sedition and inciting communal antagonism (Fiji Village) and two others, allegedly engaged in military style training in Ra province, have been charged today. Police Commissioner Ben Groenewald expects more to be charged in the coming days. (Fiji Sun).

The news made headlines in the UK Telegraph "Fiji charges group with sedition for secret plot to overthrow government." The article said the group was led by a former soldier in the British army, most likely to be an iTaukei according to Lowy Institute researcher Jenny Hayward-Jones..

Speaking to the FijiSun yesterday the PM downplayed the situation, saying it was a “non-issue” and that the police and military have it all “wrapped up” — though he did say he was interested in knowing who was “behind this.” 

Today, speaking at the opening of a sports facility in Tavua, close to the area of supposed unrest, he expressed more concern. Thanking the Tui Tavua for his traditional ceremony of welcome, a reminder that iTaukei customs have never been stronger (”They are at the centre of our national life and will always be a source of pride for every Fijian.”) he went on to speak about the general security situation, stressing that everything was under control and that the state would deal with “any challenge to (its) authority .. There will be no so-called Independent States in Fiji… Anyone who encourages political violence will face the full force of the law. This needs to be understood by every Fijian … Do not be swayed by those who seek to divide us. Do not listen to their lies and false promises."

He asked his listeners to think for themselves and examine the facts: the iTaukei way of life and Christianity are not threatened, they are protected by the Constitution that can be read in Fiji’s three languages.  And the nation has made big steps in providing free education, improvements in basic services, roads, electricity and clean water.

“Where the elite once benefited at the expense of the rest of the nation, Fiji is a fairer and more just society for everyone. And we are currently enjoying the longest period of economic growth in our history, promising more jobs and more opportunities for everyone… Theirs is the mindset of the past – the misguided thinking that led to the events of 1987 and 2000 and tore our nation apart. That thinking was wrong then and it is wrong now …  Where there was division, there is now unity ...  So I urge every Fijian to look to the future and the wonderful possibilities that await us if we stay united and strong.”  (MOI press release).

This view was taken up  by a number of chiefs  cited by the government-leaning Fiji Sun. Bau chief Ratu  George Cakobau questioned their true motives, given that this government has cared  for iTaukei far more than any previous government. Rewa chief Ro Epeli  Maitatini said their actions were uncalled for. “The iTaukei people were united and such an unchristian move would not be entertained.”

COMMENT

But is it and it may be?  It is one thing to say most Fijians are united in their support for government and another to claim that most is all. They may be confused and misled but clearly an unknown number of iTaukei are anti-government. It is these people who need to be addressed by iTaukei leaders starting with the chiefs. 

There has been no word from the parliamentary opposition, most particularly from SODELPA leaders and paramount chiefs Ro Teimumu Kepa and Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, that they totally disown the Ra group, and will only work for change using lawful measures. The absence of such assurances could be taken for passive support but, hopefully, it is more due to the present rift within the party that has called on the leaders to resign. (FijiSun).

While this latest development is important in itself, it once again highlights the need for  the Opposition (and Government for that matter) to constantly remind the public that they will only operate within the law, and in no way promote divisions based on race. 

It also indicates why it is unrealistic to expect full media freedom any day soon. --- Croz


Comments

Anonymous said…
Crosh Walsh propping the duo. We now are calling for the duo to resign i.e Khaiyum & Bainimarama or face an indictment/impeachment.
Read our lips will you...Fijian Indigenous ain't fools. https://www.facebook.com/VitiNoquViti

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