Report – Pacific Media Watch
Fiji’s former military leader Voreqe Bainimarama has created a climate of fear which must be brought to an end, Amnesty International says.
Bainimarama arrived in New Zealand tonight on a private visit to campaign with local Fijians ahead of his country’s first elections since he took control of the Pacific nation in a military coup in 2006.
He was under the protection of NZ’s Department of Internal Affairs minders.
He has said he wants to create a level playing field for Fijians, but Amnesty International says his government continues to violate human rights.
Amnesty International wants this to stop, and wants all political parties and candidates in Fiji’s September 17 election to respect and protect human rights if they form the next government.
Grant Bayldon, executive director of Amnesty International New Zealand, says human rights defenders, journalists and trade union leaders continue to face harassment, and there are reports of Fijian security forces using torture against people in custody.
“Restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly and association in Fiji should be lifted and acts of intimidation and harassment against government critics and peaceful activists must stop.
“It is not enough to say the right things when abroad while allowing the repression to continue at home.”
Bainimarama, who stood down as military commander in March so he could contest the elections as a civilian, will be following other Fijian party leaders in coming to Auckland to campaign with the Fijian population.
Details of his movements are being closely guarded but he is addressing a political rally in Manukau tomorrow for his Fiji First party.
New Zealand is supporting the election by supplying $1.5 million in IT and Hansard equipment as part of a United Nations Development Programme-led project.
The Asia-Pacific Human Rights Coalition (APHRC) announced it would hold a “Back to Democracy” seminar in Auckland later this month.
Source: Pacific Media Watch 8893