Monday, July 18, 2011

[pima.nius] Ratu Tevita draws supporters to Sydney rally

12:24 PM |

Ratu Tevita draws supporters to Sydney rally

Updated July 18, 2011 09:26:02


Former senior Fiji military commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Mara, has called on Pacific Island and Melanesian Spearhead group leaders to support the return of democracy in Fiji.

Ratu Tevita, a former member of the regime turned critic, was one of the keynote speakers at a lively meeting of the Fijian community, in Sydney, over the weekend.

Since his dramatic escape from Fiji, in a Tongan naval vessel in May, Ratu Tevita has been travelling and speaking to regional governments and community organisations pushing for more action for the return of democracy.

More than 200 people came to hear him at the Sydney meeting.


Presenter: Jemima Garrett
Speaker: Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Mara, Former Fiji Military commander, Felix Anthony, General Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, Lieutenant Colonel, Jone Baledrokadroka, National President of the Australian chapter of the Movement for Democracy and Freedom in Fiji

GARRETT: Ratu Tevita, one Fiji's paramount chiefs and son of Fiji's founding Prime Minister, tapped into his country's nation anthem, which repeatedly calls for the defence of freedom.

RATU TEVITA: I am delighted that so many of you have taken the time to attend this rally in support of returning democracy to Fiji. There is nothing so precious in life as personal freedom, personal rights, personal liberty and the rule of law.

GARRETT: Ratu Tevita said Fiji is being torn apart by a ruthless and illegal regime that beats its people, muzzles their freedom expression through media censorship, fails to address corruption and that has allowed the economy to spiral so far downwards that poverty is now a an all time high.

The National Secretary of Fiji's Trades Union Congress, Felix Anthony, agreed.

ANTHONY: This is probably the worst coup that we have had since '87. and i think people are now beginning to understand that coups don't help Fiji. they don't solve our problems. If anything at all we are in this cycle of coups and that has put Fiji back many years, and of course, the people back. This time around I think the impact has been much greater; more poverty, more unemployment, more abuse of human rights and trade union rights so overall, i think its been the worst that we've had and the fear is that things may even get worser (sic).

GARRETT Felix Anthony called on the interim government of Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, to lift media censorship, the emergency regulations and anti-trade union decrees and warned that more anti-worker decrees are being drafted.

The National President of the Movement for Democracy and Freedom in Fiji, former Fiji land forces Commander Lieutenant Colonel, Jone Baledrokadroka told the crowd the downward slide in his homeland is bringing more support behind the movements 10 point plan for the return of democracy.

BALEDROKADROKA: We have actually got other stakeholders, political stakeholders, such as the Fiji Labour Party. I was just on the phone, if you look in the back there, there is Rajen Chaudhry, I was speaking to his dad. They actually support us. this is the Fiji Labour Party. The SDL, they've actually given us their support. the Methodist Church of Fiji they've given us their support. The Great Council of Chiefs secretariat, they've also given us their support. So we've got all the stakeholders, the major stakeholders, political stakeholders in Fiji support this plan, including the Prime Minister of Samoa.

GARRETT: Just last week, Samoa's Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, again spoke out saying Australia and New Zealand are too soft on Fiji.

After the meeting Ratu Tevita Mara told me he welcomes his remarks.

RATU TEVITA: He has been commenting regularly on the situation in Fiji and i certainly agree with his comments. Australia and New Zealand have their current measures in place on fiji and, obviously, it hasn't worked. i am sure they are re-looking at it and, hopefully, what the Samoan Prime Minister has said will do for some changes for Australia and new Zealand towards Fiji.

GARRETT: At the same time that Samoa's Prime minister says Australia and New Zealand are too soft on Fiji, he also says, that Fijians will eventually solve their own problems. He was suggesting that if we wait long enough, eventually the Pacific Way of talking, waiting, more talking, will play its course. what is your view on that?

RATU TEVITA: I do agree with him to a certain extent but you must realise that this is the third coup that we have had in fiji that involves the military. And, as you know now, its a hard core dictatorship now and I don't think he has any plans to give it up. so whether the changes from Fiji, will occur, to what extent does the situation have to deteriorate till the people will be involved in trying to make changes themselves. But you must remember its against the military, with all their weapons they have and all the manpower they have. that is something that should be seriously looked at.

GARRETT: You've been talking to the Australian government. What has come out of those talks?

RATU TEVITA: They were certainly interested in what's happening in Fiji at the ground level, which I've discussed at length. They were interested to see what our plans were for returning Fiji back to democracy. it was a fairly confidential discussion so i'd keep it at that.

GARRETT: The Pacific Islands Forum leaders are due to meet at their annual summit soon in Auckland. What would you like to see come out of that meeting on Fiji?

RATU TEVITA: Not only would I like to see a strong statement from the Pacific Islands Forum but more stronger action against Fiji. We have to have a return to democratic governance at the soonest, maybe at the end of this year, and i believe that the Forum has within their powers to bring about a change in Fiji.

GARRETT: The countries that belong to the Melanesian Spearhead group have been more willing to give tacit support to interim Prime Minister Bainimarama. have you been in touch with them since you fled Fiji and what sort of response are you getting?

RATU TEVITA: I've had informal discussions with them, with officials from all three of them, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. I still don't understand why they are supporting Bainimarama. its also against Article Six of the MSG so i think they should re-look at their stance on Fiji and move away from supporting the dictator.

GARRETT: Do you think now (PNG's former) Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare is no longer a political driver, that the Melanesian Spearhead Group is likely to change its position?

RATU TEVITA: Well, hopefully, he recovers from his current illness and I hope good sense and common sense prevails with the leaders of the MSG countries/.

GARRETT: Will you be visiting any of the Melanesian Spearhead Group countries or any other Forum countries before the Pacific Forum meeting?

RATU TEVITA: Absolutely! I intend visiting all MSG and Forum Island countries before the Forum in New Zealand.

GARRETT: Do you have any concerns that you may not get a visa?

RATU TEVITA: I know that Solomon Islands government has mentioned that they will not be receptive to my visit. I'll have another try at them but the other countries are OK for me to visit them.


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pacific islands media association
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pacific islands media association
pima.nius@gmail.com
aotearoa, new zealand
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The pima.nius googlegroup is a facility for discussion and distributing information. Content sent by this googlegroup are forwarded from various networks and media publications.
 
DISCLAIMER: These emails are unedited and discussions made through this googlegroup are unmoderated. Announcements made through this googlegroup do not constitute endorsement for the organisations, individuals or opinions featured. Please check the integrity of organisations and individuals before exchanging personal information with them.
 
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