Activists, Unionists, Students Against Fiji Coup
Activists, Unionists, Students March Against Fiji Coup
Anti Fiji coup marchers on Queen Street
On Friday night around 300 political activists, trade unionists, politicians and pro-democracy supporters marched up Queen Street in Auckland in support of an early return to democracy in Fiji.
At a gathering in Aotea Square, the demonstration was addressed by the Minister of Corrections Matt Robson, Auckland Deputy Mayor Bruce Hucker, Green Party Foreign Affairs spokesman Keith Locke, National Party MP Arthur Anae and several others.
Left: March organiser Marie Leadbeater
Addressing the meeting, one of the organisers, Marie Leadbeater from the Coalition For Democracy In Fiji, said "It is heartening to see so many sectors of the community showing support for the people of Fiji and demanding an early return to democratic government there."
The march was part of a weekend of political activity which also saw a seminar on Saturday at the Univerity of Auckland which was addressed by Sir Paul Reeves (one of Fiji's 1997 constitution co-writers), Teresa Koroi, Teresea Teaiwa, Maya Devi and Ross Wilson (NZCTU).
Green MP Keith Locke addresses the Marchers
A last-minute addition to the seminar programme was an impassioned plea from Anit Singh from Fiji for help for some 257 internal refugees, all Indo-Fijians from the Rewa area.
"These refugees" said Anit Singh, "include children, elderly people and pregnant women, all villagers who were forced out of their homes by ethnic violence carried out by Fijians from the other side of the river."
Visibly shaken, Mr Singh said "These people need help. They are presently living in a school, on the other side of the main island, Viti Levu, but they have to shift out every day into the fields while classes are held, then move back in again at night. Fiji just does not have experience of how to cater for refugees, and I am here in New Zealand to look for practical assistance from people or groups who have expertise in such matters."
Mr Singh reported that an account was to be set up with the ANZ bank which would enable people here to give practical assistance and that an announcement will be made soon about the details.