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Fiji Times Letter Triggers Complaint To Police

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SUVA: A leading Fiji constitutional rights group has filed a formal complaint with the police over a letter in the Fiji Times newspaper apparently threatening pro-democracy advocates with violence.

The controversial letter, headed "Fight for democracy", was published in the newspaper on 19 September 2000 under the name Taniela Balase - who is claimed by political groups and pro-democracy activists to be a pseudonym for a prominent politician and former civil servant.

In a letter to acting Police Commissioner Moses Driver on September 21, Citizens' Constitutional Forum executive director Akuila Yabaki said that the correspondent claimed he knew of "indigenous pressure groups" and "fundamentalists" who had drawn up a blacklist of "fighters for democracy".

Yabaki's letter said that the blacklist was one of businessmen, politicians, trade unionists, academics, civil servants, prominent lawyers, judges, some NGO members and sugar cane farmers who would be singled out for attacks.

His complaint quoted the Balase letter as saying: "What is being talked about has sent chills down the spines of some listeners to the point that some do not even dare speak about it."

Yabaki said: "The implication there is that people in this 'black list' will be murdered or horribly tortured etc because they are regarded as 'perpetrators of evil' for propagating 'democracy and human rights'."

He said that as the executive director of a group whose membership consisted of some people who came under the categories mentioned in the blacklist, he called upon the police to urgently investigate the Taniela Balase and the Fiji Times for publishing the letter.

The motive of the letter was to "instill fear and hatred of organisations such as CCF".

Yabaki's letter reminded the police that Section 30(1) of the 1997 constitution guaranteed the right to freedom of speech and expression. However, the constitution was abrogated by the military authorities on May 30 after declaring martial law.

+++niuswire


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