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The New Zealand Society of Authors on Fiji

The New Zealand Society of Authors on Fiji

The New Zealand Society of Authors (incorporating PEN New Zealand) joins a wide range of other freedom of speech advocates throughout the world in deploring the vicious repression of media by the military government of Fiji. We are distressed that such conditions can exist in our region of the world (or, indeed, anywhere).

Since the beginning of this month there have been reports that have shocked supporters and friends of Fiji, who are forced to witness the country’s decline into even greater dictatorship. The repression of the media following the reappointment of Frank Bainimarana, despite the illegality of the regime being determined by the courts, is so severe that it is feared that even Fiji’s citizens simply do not know what is going on. A “state of emergency” was declared permitting the authorities to ban any news deemed likely to cause “disorder”. Ludicrously, even information readily available worldwide, such as the reaction of the UN Secretary General to the situation, was “banned”. Military censors were stationed in newsrooms, and the Prime Minister declared simply that Fiji does not need free and open public discussion about current issues. This declaration places the Fiji government outside the community of civilised peoples.

Under the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 establishes the principle that freedom of expression is an integral part of a global community working for the collective good of all peoples. PEN New Zealand is an active supporter of freedom of speech and advocate for Article 19 which states that ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.’

As friends of all people in Fiji and as protectors, where possible, of the right of free speech, we call on Fiji as an active member of the United Nations to give credence to the Charter and human rights it supports and for the Fijian government to end its repression of the normal need of people to express their views in a peaceful and public manner, and to restore true democracy to their country.

ENDS

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