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Regional bodies urged to step up on Fiji: Pacific Freedom Forum
For immediate release: Monday 23 March 2009:
Pacific organizations who rely on media workers to help reach their audiences are urged to speak out for human rights in Fiji and condemn the fear campaign linked to the military regime there.
And it is not just a matter of calling for safety and human rights for journalists, often targeted as partners in development by regional agencies – their own institutional credibility is at stake, says the Pacific Freedom Forum.
Escalating attacks against journalists and trade unionists and their families have over the last month took a turn for the worse over the weekend, with unlit home-made fuel bombs shattering the Saturday night sleep for Fiji Times Editor Netani Rika and his family.
“For the Pacific Freedom Forum, as a regional family of journalists working for a better Pacific tomorrow, it’s time to call on other regional ‘families’ to step up and say ‘enough is enough’ against this cowardly campaign of fear,” says Pacific Freedom Forum Chair Susuve Laumaea.
“Regional organizations housed in Fiji cannot defy logic and pretend that human rights violations are not happening on their doorstep,” he says.
Co-Chair Monica Miller says that the very people served by regional organizations includes the Fiji population who, through targeted attacks on high profile ‘dissenters’ “are effectively being bullied, intimidated and waged war on by those who should be protecting them. Against this disturbing frame of events, we applaud and support the efforts of civil society groups who have already spoken out and who value the role of journalists in keeping nations informed. We ask that regional groups such as the Pacific Community and Forum Leaders, the University of the South Pacific, Regional Environmental Program and other regional groups who work with media workers, also voice their concern on what is happening,” says Miller.
“It is time for political and diplomatic correctness to step aside for the will of the people, the real Pacific Way, to take over. Silence about these very open attacks on people who have been trained to be pro-Pacific development advocates, can only be taken to be consent.”
In a Fiji Times editorial after the attack, Rika has noted the anonymity of the attacks is a joke and challenged the regime in government to make its stance public.
The editorial, in full at http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?item=leader, also notes that the source of the attacks is common knowledge, along with the reasons for silence from Fiji’s military regime.
“The common people understand completely the reasons behind the thuggery, why particular targets have been chosen and why the police cannot protect the victims,” the editorial states.
The PFF urges regional organizations to retain their credibility by clarifying to Pacific people where they stand on the continuing human rights abuses happening in the country which reaps the highest benefits from hosting them.
PFF interim Chair
Susuve Laumaea Sunday Chronicle Newspaper Papua New Guinea
Mobile: 675-684 5168 Office: 675-321-7040 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
PFF interim co-Chair
Monica Miller KHJ Radio American Samoa
Mob 684 258-4197 Office 684 633-7793 Email: email@example.com
The Pacific Freedom Forum are a regional and global online network of Pacific media colleagues, with the specific intent of raising awareness and advocacy of the right of Pacific people to enjoy freedom of expression and be served by a free and independent media.
We believe in the critical and basic link between these freedoms, and the vision of democratic and participatory governance pledged by our leaders in their endorsement of the Pacific Plan and other commitments to good governance.
In support of the above, our key focus is monitoring threats to media freedom and bringing issues of concern to the attention of the wider regional and international community.
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