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Fiji: Journalists Should Expose Racist Politicians

Expose Racist Politicians: Rika

http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/wansolnews/2006/march/wansol2803061.html

By Erica Lee

SUVA (Wansolwara Online/USP/Pacific Media Watch): Journalists have been urged to expose racist politicians at a regional media and elections workshop at the University of the South Pacific.

Fiji TV news director Netani Rika said politicians could be expected to pull out the race card during elections.

"They go around playing the race card. That is not the way we treat our neighbours of other ethnicities so why is it not working further up?² Rika said.

"We can stop it and we must stop it."

Fiji and the Solomon Islands are two countries in the region that have faced ethnically inspired political violence in recent years, leading to the toppling of governments.

The Solomon Islands will go to the polls on April 5 followed by Fiji on May 6-13.

Rika, a former Fiji Times deputy editor, warned journalists to be careful about taking politicians¹ speeches, especially when delivered in vernacular languages, and "preaching it".

"Speeches during elections are usually given in vernacular. Words sometimes have double meanings and politicians will turn it around and say that is not what I said,² Rika said.

Fiji Human Rights Commission director Shaista Shameem said journalists have to make the connection between people and their government.

"When the public is informed, they become more enlightened and intellectual, which leads to a better government," she said.

"Elections are about exercising your right as a citizen and is often the only way for people to have a voice.²

University of the South Pacific history-politics senior lecturer Dr Rae Nicholl said voters needed to be informed about all the candidates, parties and policies, especially regarding women.

The media had a vital role in helping women get their message across to the voters.

The director of femLink Pacific, Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, said men¹s voices dominated hard news.

+++niuswire

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