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Amnesty International, Democracy Committees elated

Amnesty International, Democracy Committees elated

Issue No: 541 2 March 2001

The Fiji democracy committees aborad and the Amnesty International have welcomed the decision of the Fiji Court of Appeal.

Democracy committees in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the US have hailed the decision as a landmark one and have called on the people of Fiji to abide by the decision.

The Australia-based Movement for Democracy and Human Rights in Fiji (MDHRF) stated yesterday that it: "applauds today's just and historic decision of the Fiji Court of Appeal in restoring the democratic and human rights of all citizens of Fiji."

"This landmark judgement is the only decision that will lead Fiji out of the political nightmare that has severely handicapped the development of its people, the economy and the nation since the kidnapping of the elected Government in May last year."

"The MDHRF has been fully involved in this landmark case by supporting Chandrika Prasad's legal team financially and by galvanising international attention on the case from day one."

"The MDHRF acknowledges the decisive role played by Professor George Williams of the University of NSW in representing Chandrika Prasad initially in the High Court of Fiji and then the Fiji Court of Appeal."

"Prof Williams and the legal team in Fiji (Dr Shaista Shameem, Geoffrey Robertson QC, Anu Patel and Neel Shivam) have created history by generously contributing their time, effort and intellectual prowess towards to the ideals of human rights. This landmark decision would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of these individuals."

"The MDHRF calls on the Interim regime, the Military and the Police to provide for a proper and civilised hand over of power to the elected Parliament of Fiji.

The MDHRF urges the people of Fiji to move forward decisively with dignity by adopting the path of reconciliation, healing and nation building."

The Amnesty International also took out a strong statement of support for democracy yesterday. It stated "With the eyes of the world on Fiji after the Court of Appeal judgment to uphold constitutional rule of law, the Fiji leadership's response will be an example, good or bad, for future generations, and for other countries far beyond the Pacific."

"In UN peace-keeping operations, Fiji soldiers have died in defence of human rights and the rule of law. Amnesty International urges every soldier, police officer and politician in Fiji to equally defend these fundamental values at home," said the international human rights organization's spokesman, Dr Heinz Schurmann-Zeggel.

"While only Fiji itself can solve its own problems, experience shows that no solution will last if it ignores internationally recognized principles of human rights and respect for the rule of law."

"Amnesty International takes no position on the form or composition of government in Fiji, but urges the Fiji authorities to realize the enormous responsibility resting on their shoulders for the future of human rights and lawful government in Fiji."

Amnesty said: "Indigenous rights are equal - not superior - to other human rights and no excuse for racial discrimination or even racist violence."

END. 2 March 2001

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