Trouble in Paradise

Ethnically diverse groups of Fijian residents are a concern for social justice activists, following reports of foreign journalists being expelled and censorship of local news in the Fiji Times, after the latest round of crackdowns by coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama. Social networking website sotiacentral.com was taken off the net, and while Fiji residents are still able to use MSN to contact relatives outside Fiji, communication is difficult.

Property and business owners in the main islands, who are not ethnically Melanesian Fijians, may be the next target for Bainimarama’s high-handed tactics. Questions should be asked about how New Zealand will support non-melanesian Fijian citizens, and ex-patriate residents, should the worst possible outcome happen. This is not even counting the possibilities of harm to any foreign tourists currently holidaying in the ‘Pacific Island paradise’.

Today’s Dominion Post editorial says what many have thought, but not voiced in the past four months since the coup – that Bainimarama has styled himself on Robert Mugabe, the arch-totalitarian of Zimbabwe, known now as a genocidal megalomaniac. Our New Zealand Defense Forces, who trained the Fiji Army leaders at Burnham Military Camp, must now take stock of what their protégée’s have done with the skills and tactics so learned.

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5 thoughts on “Trouble in Paradise

  1. Anarkaytie, I hadn’t picked up the parallels between Bainimarama and Mugabe until your post.

    There is a key historical difference – Mugabe led a war of liberation against genuine oppression, whereas Bainimarama gained power through a military coup.

    But that is about where the differences end. Bainimarama’s actions since seizing power very closely follow Mugabe’s.

    And today Bainimarama’s military have taken over the Fijian Reserve Bank. Which, I guess, will lead to the same sort of hyperinflation and economic disaster that Mugabe has inflicted on Zimbabwe.

    Now, I’m a peacenik from way back, but I do think there are some situations where internationally sanctioned armed intervention, or the threat of it, is warranted to curtail severe and systemic human rights abuses.

    Zimbabwe is one such case. Fiji is looking very much like another.

    Meanwhile, we get these weasel words from the limp Minister of Foreign Affairs Murray McCully, in the link I have provided above:

    Mr McCully said New Zealanders involved in business in Fiji had talked to him about their problems but the solution ultimately lay in Fiji’s own hands.

    “We can’t make them hold elections, we can’t stop them wrecking their country if that’s what they are intent on doing. There are all sorts of signs that Cdre Bainimarama is intent on wrecking his country before giving into the wishes of the international community.”

  2. Gee toad, I hope your call for armed interventions does not breach the Green party’s non violence stance!

    And would you volunteer to pick up a weapon and storm onto the Fijian beaches?

  3. Gerrit, Green policy in this regard is:

    Armed intervention can be justified only as a last resort, in circumstances of inter-state aggression or intra-state situations of genocide or the gross and systematic violation of human rights. Such operations can only be mandated by the UN. The use of force is constrained by international law and regulated by legitimate decision-making structures – in a manner comparable to that prevailing in national societies. This requires policies that address aggression, intervention criteria, self-defence, peacekeeping, troop deployment and counter-terrorism.

    My personal view is that both Zimbabwe and now Fiji meet those criteria – but note the point in the policy that it should be UN-endorsed, not some unilateral “world policeman” action led by the US (who have frequently unilaterally engaged in armed intervention) or by some alliance of other countries.

    As for my personal participation, well, at 51 I think I’m a bit old to be very effective as a foot soldier these days, and I certainly don’t have the expertise to be a military strategist.

  4. Cant see the UN doing anything. Fiji is well capable to defend itself. A well trained and equipped army is in place.

    New Zealand and Australia will be reluctant to take them on, especially on home turf.

    This is not a Solomon Island situation where police action to curb steet hooliganism was required.

    But a fully fledged, storm the beaches invasion to neutralise the Fiji army.

    This wont happen as the Australian/New Zealand public wont back it, the capacity of both nations to carry out the task is suspect, the supply chain long and fragile. , the cost in people and expensive material to high, etc.

    And if they do neutralise the Fijian army, what will be put in place?

    A colonialistic interim government? Is that what the Fijian people want?

    I really cant see anyone foreign doing anything about an invasion. Change has to come from within, but how I dont have answers to.

  5. Hey everyone –

    I’m reading the Herald regularly, but missing the Dompost; good comment up here from local lawyers, editors, etc, but I don’t have the links to post.
    I’ll try to backfill if I get a chance later, & compile some kind of linky-timeline.

    Anyone who can comment on what’s being said in the ‘corridors of power’, please do.
    At your own risk/convenience, of course … 😉

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