World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Cost of militarisation explored at Asia-Pacific conference

High social cost of militarisation explored at Asia-Pacific peace conference

www.pmc.aut.ac.nz/pacific-media-watch/fiji-high-cost-militarisation-explored-regional-peace-conference-8577

By Anna Majavu

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch / Radio New Zealand International): The Fijian military is taking up too much of the budget and ordinary citizens are losing out on vital health and social welfare benefits as a result.

This was the view of experts speaking at the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom Asia-Pacific conference held this weekend at the Auckland University of Technology.

Adi Asenaca Uluiviti of the Coalition for Democracy in Fiji and the Nuclear-Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) movement said: "The military is excessively consuming a lot of our national budget in Fiji....an incredible amount of money for an institution that is just killing off our humanity".

As a military state, the army frequently crossed the "civil-political versus defence-protective regime divide", Uluiviti added.

Since 1987, there have been five coups in Fiji, four different constitutions have been adopted but only three general elections have been held. The country has been ruled by emergency decree for the past eight years.

In Fiji, there is censure of the media, NGOs, churches, chiefs and indigenous institutions, said Uluiviti.

Uluiviti said that even women's NGOs which did mainly anti-family violence work were affected by a new military decree which banned any organisation funded (even partly) from overseas from taking part in any political discussions.

'Deconstructing institutions'
The most recent coup d'etat in Fiji in 2006 had seen the army involving itself in "deconstructing indigenous institutions", she added.

As part of the dismantling of these indigenous institutions, "we are now all called Fijians, something that the indigenous have traditionally claimed for ourselves" Uluiviti added.

While there is still a "glorification of things military", a glimmer of hope could be found in the fact that elections will be held for the first time in eight years on September 17 with four political parties headed by women.

These are the union-based FSDP headed by Sivia Qoro, the Fiji Labour Party headed by La Padarath, the National Federation Party; headed by Tupou Draunidalo; and Sodelpa headed by Ro Teimumu.

However, their chances are unclear because as Radio New Zealand International reported recently, Bainimarama is currently claiming that he is the only candidate confirmed to be taking part in the election even though he admitted last week thathe had flouted his own military electoral decree by failing to register his "Fiji First" political party.

RNZI reported that the registration of the party was still some weeks away. According to the military decree, parties are not allowed to start campaigning until they have registered but Bainimarama has already been touring the country in a bus bearing his party's name.

Ema Tagicakibau of the IANSA Womens Network and the Pacific Small Arms Action Group told the conference that she had to leave Fiji four years ago against her will. "It was a choice that was forced on me because it was difficult to continue my work as the media and NGOs were being harassed" she said.

Harrowing photographs
Tagicakibau showed harrowing photographs of soldiers disrupting a session of Parliament and dragging out the secretary-general.

Fiji was expanding its military to take part in numerous peacekeeping operations, at the cost of spending on social welfare and health, Tagicakibau said. "It is killing us now" she added.

Fiji was involved in peacekeeping missions in Kosovo, the Sudan and even the Golan Heights. On these peacekeeping missions, the Fijian army was learning how to set up checkpoints and other things that are not beneficial to the people of Fiji, she added.

"So straight after every coup, the checkpoints go up" said Tagicakibau.

Fiji had become a "fatherless society" because so many men had joined the military. Women who protested against the increased militarisation of Fiji were rounded up and taken to military camps where they were beaten up.

Young girls were told to join cadet training programmes "to instil discipline", Tagicakibau added.

Meanwhile, although a number of Fijian organisations and the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions have expressed doubt that the September elections will be free and fair, New Zealand's Murray McCully said today that New Zealand would accept the outcome of the elections.

The Fiji Labour Party president, Lavinia Padarath, had accused the governments of New Zealand and Australia of "getting behind a flawed process without any regard as to whether it is free and fair", Radio New Zealand International reported.


Ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Gordon Campbell: On The Death Of Fidel Castro

New Zealand likes to think we played our part – via the 1981 Springbok tour – in bringing the apartheid regime in South Africa to an end… Jacob Zuma treated the death of Fidel Castro at the weekend as an occasion to pay a heartfelt tribute to the thousands of Cuban soldiers who travelled across the world to inflict the first significant military defeat on the forces of white supremacy. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The US Election Home Stretch

Once again at the business end of a US election, the result will hinge on the same old bits of geography as always: the Five Crucial Counties in Ohio, the Two Crucial Counties in Pennsylvania and the I-4 Interstate Corridor in Florida that runs from Tampa Bay through Orlando to Daytona Beach. More>>

ALSO:

Meanwhile:

Haiti: $5 Million To Kick-Start Aid In Wake Of Hurricane Matthew

UN emergency fund allocates $5 million to kick-start assistance in wake of Hurricane Matthew More>>

ALSO:

Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>

ALSO:

Not Helen Clark: António Guterres Favourite For Next UN Secretary-General

Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres has emerged as the clear favourite to become the next United Nations Secretary-General following the sixth secret ballot held today by the UN Security Council, which is expected to take a formal decision tomorrow and forward Mr. Guterres’ name to the 193-Member General Assembly for final confirmation. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>

ALSO:

Other Australian Detention

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news