March 28, 2007

The Cookie Crumbles from hot (external) ovens

Isa makubuqu's, it’s Bu Josi on the Intelly watch tonight. I take time out from tali ibe after I have been nudged by my Intelly makubuqu’s to share some perspectives from wizened eyes.

A quick look around seems to show that our very own human rights body is soon to get a dose of the “out in the cold” medicine. It is funny how the spates of “cure Fiji’s coup symptoms” prescription medicine is rolling out week after week. This was led of course by the firm “compulsory medication” dished out by Pacific Island Forum leaders only a couple of weeks ago regarding EPG recommendations.

Let’s turn to Geneva where many national human rights bodies are meeting as we blog. A very important group of these bodies called the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights - ICC for short - is meeting this very week and high on the agenda is the issue of accreditation.

That’s right makubuqu’s. Any human rights commission is not legitimate simply because a national law like a Constitution says so. There are set international principles like independence and transparency that human rights commission must live and rigorously show. I thank my many makubuqu’s for researching this and educating an old woman like me in the process. In turn I pass this knowledge on to you. The saying that “one is never too old to learn” rings true for your old Bu Josi!

Of course I know many makubuqu’s have been complaining about the lack of principles from our human rights commission. Take heart! Your mumbles are reaching the ears of global guardians but this could not have happened unless some very brave makubuqu’s risked life and limb to make this issue heard. To them we owe our thanks - Vinaka Vakalevu me vakalougatataki kemudou kece na Turaga.

Some excerpts from proceedings of this meeting which are of interest on Issue 6 at page 13.

Also of interest is a Press Release from the UN where the Human Rights Council discusses reports on freedom of religion, freedom of opinion and arbitrary detention. Most interesting are comments from Australia and Norway:

ROBYN MUDIE (Australia) said the oppression of the most active supporters of the free circulation of information and opinion continued to remain a concern throughout the world. Governments should ensure conformity with international human rights norms, and encourage a culture of transparency and openness in public affairs. There was deep concern for the treatment of civil society in Zimbabwe, including the press.

There was also concern for the current situation in Sri Lanka, where the Government continued to extend the state of emergency regulations, which impacted upon the legitimate activities of the press and civil society. In Fiji, pro-democracy dissent had been forced underground following the December military coup. In light of these and many other situations of concern, all countries were called upon to meet their international obligations.

JONAS JOLLE (Norway) said there was an urgent need to de-politicize discriminatory practices related to religion. There was a momentum that was making the issue ever more important on the international agenda. This gave fuel to those who aimed to reinforce illusions of exclusive identity and conflict between groups and civilizations. Norway asked what could be done to counter the negative impact of this focus on religion while maintaining a positive profile in regard to religious matters at large.

Mr. Ligabo had made recommendations on Internet freedom, but there were several countries that were tracking and harassing bloggers. Had there been any progress at all on this? Protection of journalists in hostile or conflict situations remained a concern, the last year being the worst on record for violence against journalists. Could Mr. Ligabo elaborate on a current study of violence against journalists? And what could be done to identify perpetrators of violence against journalists?

Military government silent on letter

Now let’s swing our attention to London (yet another EU territory) where the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association (IBA) are seeking a response from makubuna’s in “power” and still have not received a response concerning human rights violations against lawyer Richard Naidu. A copy of their letter sent last month is here.

The IBA's Human Rights Institute confirmed in an email to Intelligentsiya that it has not received a reply to the letters sent to Bainimarama and President Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

Spokeswoman Joanna Salsbury wrote:

"I can confirm that we have not had a response from the Fijian Government regarding the treatment of Richard Naidu. To date we have received no further reports of the harassment of lawyers which does not mean, of course, that there have been no incidents. We remain concerned about the situation and Fiji and call upon the Government to respect the law of law. In particular we urge the Government to ensure the judiciary remains independent and that lawyers are permitted to carry out their professional duties without interference. Further we urge that steps be taken at the earliest opportunity to restore Fiji to democracy."

Watch this cookie crumble quick smart and verrrry soon ragone. The onus is now on makubuna’s in this junta to prove that the “said” high priority of human rights in their road-map to democracy, as spouted at every possible turn, actively indicates that our human rights commission is independent and transparent. Under the spotlight therefore are two inconsistent elements like the Director and the junta-appointed Chairperson.

Military prepares law on "cyber crimes"

Since we are on the topic of things legal in nature (although I do not profess to know a lot about the field), Intelly sources tell us that draft legislation for our country is being prepared on cyber crimes. It is a given that bloggers are being targeted. However if this junta reads what’s happening in Geneva they should tread verrrry carefully. Not even the statement from the judiciary that asserts that some of them as judicial advocates can “make laws” will wash. E Sega: this is NOT their role. Only elected parliamentarians are honoured with this responsibility and there is a reason why the executive, legislature and judiciary are supposed to be separate.

The next round of “cookie-crumbling coup” medication will of course come from the EU where the junta places once again all sugar (and trade deficit) aspirations on. Even if we do manage to get this money, the torrential rain—-Koteme! Even my voivoi is suffering—-will certainly ensure that the key sugar cane areas spew a mediocre harvest.

Isa ragone let’s reach out to our fellow citizens who are suffering from this rain.

Cookie’s crumbling everywhere ragone but fresh cookies are also baking in the oven. The final pillar of support for any “power” are workers' organisations. I sense that today’s board moves in Telecom is going to be one of many icing flavours for home-baked cookies increasing passive solidarity in resisting the junta.

Hang in there makubuna's and continue to support each other!

Spare a thought...

While Fiji's media is facing a difficult task telling it like it is, spare a thought also for other oppressed journalists around the region.

NiuFM in New Zealand carried an item on Tavake Fusimalohi, the editor of Tonga's Kele'a newspaper who is among some high-profile people arrested and charged with sedition in relation to the Nuku'alofa riots.

Intelligentsiya shared space on that news item as well. Visit NiuFM's website here.

March 26, 2007

Missing the point...again and again

We have had several threatening and foul-mouthed comments since publicity about Intelligentsiya mushroomed. At first we refused to allow such rubbish on our blogs, but in the interest of fairness and to illustrate the mentality of some coup-supporters, we reproduce the comment below (from someone posting under the name Moape Tivili), complete with Fijian swearwords, the mildest of which calls us "block heads" for expressing a different opinion to those who have seized power:
"Isa you makubuni polo bona's and maga bona's. You only choose to publish comments that favours SDL. Continue hiding and barking from behind that fence. It is a well known fact that dogs who bark so aggressively from behind their fenced compounds will never ever hurt you.

Isa my makubuni ulukau's, thanks for creating for dogs who bark behind fenced compounds. All your aggressive barking won't bring the corrupt Qarase regime back. Isa ulukau's, we apologize for that. We certainly enjoy listening to all your barks. No one ever pays attention since it will never bring about any change in Fiji's government. We do have the pills that will soothe your sore throats as a result from all the barking. Isa, ni sa moce dau yavu ulukau's."

There has also been some persistent comments that we are people who have an axe to grind over the ousting of Laisenia Qarase's government. We can state for a fact that not every Intelligentsiya blogger voted for SDL or even mildly liked the party. We reiterate again that what we object to is the violent removal of our freedoms in the name of a national clean-up campaign. Why can't the clean-up happen without the military-perpetrated violence, without the intimidation, without detaining people who do not share the military's view?

Before we move on to clarifying the other issues, here's another comment from anonymous:
"Its quite surprising that this website was not created after the 2000 coup. So much talk about democracy now but where were all this talk during the 2000 coup? Its quite evident that the creators of this website are staunch supporters hurting from the rightful removal of the corrupt Qarase regime. Democracy has never changed its meaning over the centuries so I don't see why some dogs are barking now and not in 1987 or 2000.

Also, to say you're silently expressing your oppostion to this long overdue most welcomed regime change speaks a lot about your true characters. Christ, Mandella or Mahatma Ghandi spoke bravely without hiding their faces. Actions from such brave revered men certainly brought about massive changes thats still lingers today.

In no way did they ever attempted to conceal their identities. Unlike the cowardly creators of intelligentsiya who conceal their identities, all the big talk relating to the 2006 coup only won't bring any changes. You dogs can continue barking behind your fences. You would only gain respect if you were barking from 1987 till now. Unfortunately thats not the case with you SDL supporters. What would hurt you guys more is a snap referendum today would clearly reveal that 82% of the population support the removal of the corrupt Qarase regime. By the way I'm a full blooded Fijian.

Have a great time maintaining this blog site and continue barking."

A similar anti-Intelligentsiya question has been why such a blog was not put up in 1987 and in 2000. In 1987, most of us were still in primary and high school and blogs were probably not even imagined then. In 2000, the concept of blogs was still in its infancy globally. Back then you could probably have counted those in Fiji who knew what a blog was on your fingers. By 2006, the blogging phenomenon was pretty much widespread and offered the best platform to express uncensored opinion on the coup. So we hope that puts such comments into perspectives.

By the way, another (or perhaps the same) commenter warned: "Lol ur Dayz Are Numbered!!"

We must point out, again in the interest of fairness, that some pro-Intelligentsiya commenters have also used swearwords, but directed at the military and interim regime.

There have been other comments in less colourful language, such as one suggesting Intelligentsiya is now a "voice in the wilderness" and others that suggest the "majority" of Fiji's population actually think this ongoing madness is good. Thanks for that, but you only need to look at the growing number of blogs calling for the army to give up the government, and you'll realize that a good number of people want true "normalcy" to return. (Remember how that word was so common after the 2000 coup, yet we hardly hear it now?) And to the anonymous commenter who suggested asking people what they thought of the interim government: Who would want to give a less-than-glowing review if they fear being taken by soldiers for expressing such a thought?

Meanwhile, not to be too distracted, as a follow-up to our previous post about the growing community of "Freedom Bloggers", we welcome aboard "Resist Franks Coup". The blog has some interesting behind-the-scenes claims regarding the Commodore and his junta. We're not expecting Leweni to make an announcement on national television that the military is searching for the author of Resist Franks Coup, though.

Let's also welcome Fiji Free Speech (complete with its own domain name), put up by a media professional anonymously. This clamour for freedom just got louder!

Freedom lives, even if it's only in cyberspace.

March 24, 2007

Freedom bloggers get voice on Radio Australia

Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program yesterday (Friday) broadcast a segment on Fiji’s freedom bloggers by Bruce Hill.

Two of the Intelligentsiya bloggers featured on the show along with fellow blogger FijianBlack from the Doing Something blog.

In the program, interim Attorney General Aiyaz Saiyed Khaiyum, who previously slammed Intelligentsiya for one report that was not accurate, makes the interim government look … well … just off.

On the program, the AG scoffs at the idea that the military is hunting for Intelligentsiya bloggers. It seems as if he's saying bloggers are a paranoid lot.

But wait a minute, we remember few weeks back when the army's mouthpiece Major Neumi Leweni declared Intelligentsiya bloggers were being hunted down. And this announcement went on for several days before the military realized a publicly-declared "hunt" was only making them look foolish since they couldn't track any of us down and stopped talking about it.

FijiBlack calls it foot-in-mouth syndrome.

Listen to the podcast of the broadcast on Radio Australia's website here.

March 23, 2007

A coup by any other name...

Notes from New Zealand

I was dismayed to read Dr Satendra Nandan's account of the 2006 coup as a lesser of two evils.

After attending a seminar in Wellington this week – "Couped Up Again in Fiji” – given by Dr Steven Ratuva, the environment in which academics are operating in Fiji was made more clear: more by what was NOT said, and from the minimal audience questions due to time constraints. It seemed clear that the majority present also saw the situation as unfortunate – to be polite.

It appears that the Fijian academics see a need to be as conciliatory as possible towards the military, probably in the hope that they may serve a constructive role in the return to democracy

(by democracy we assume an elected government in whatever form, the preservation and observation of BASIC human rights, and self determination - not military determination).

This is not an unreasonable stance to take ALTHOUGH I would suggest they need be careful to provide reasoned arguments in their analysis, and in the way they convey analysis to the media.

Where they are unable to do this, they lay themselves open to a criticism of self-interest. This in itself is unhelpful since they, presumably will be called upon to assist in the future in a return to "normalcy". Dr Nandan is in danger of damaging is ability to impartially assist in future should he want to, though his personal opinions must be respected. Comments of this nature are about as useful as those of a Human Rights Commissioner wishing to destroy a reputation.

In the case of Dr Ratuva, I was only able to ask two brief questions due to limited time, and challenge him on his definition of a successful coup. He noted in his Fiji Times article, "successful coups" was in inverted commas, and that the definition was not that clear.

My point to him was to have been that regime change was one OUTCOME which may or may not be positive, BUT along with several other OUTCOMES which also may or may not be positive (e.g. deaths, beatings, economy, entrenchment of coup culture, human rights abuses on the down side, with perhaps some others seen as beneficial, though I struggle hard to think of them at present - possibly instilling fear amongst the corrupt - but even then, also instilling fear amongst the honest, including perhaps some academics).

In an analysis of coups, one must be careful not to forget or de-emphasise the negative aspects especially when they may very well have longer lasting effect AND set the future up for a whole NEW round of grievances and dissatisfaction. In passing he did note that one had to test the water in terms of one's comments.

I'll briefly summarise Ratuva's analysis which, despite some previous and possibly misreported comments, I found fairly balanced but incomplete, though once again, time constraints prevented clarification:

  • 2006: A "new" type of coup - a coup by stealth;
  • A non-ethno-nationalist justification;
  • Reform oriented (rather than reactionary);
  • Not as dramatic as 87 and 2000, for example no hostages. (Here one may take issue - not simply Qarase, but those hostages to the Military in an economic, political and social sense: i.e. the disempowerment, the growth in economic hardship, and the damage done in depriving people the right to move and communicate unimpeded, and to live without fear of reprisal from a regime that seeks to become legitimised)
  • The impact of those influences may be very damaging on society particularly when there are attempts to minimise their effects.
  • He noted dynamic interaction between political, economic and socio-cultural factions.
  • Tension is at a political level NOT a community level (I took him to mean in a general sense, NOT the often unproductive comments sometimes seen in cyberspace that are more representative of frustration and the legacy of hurt - and here I am tempted to include that felt by Dr Satendra Nandan that is evident in his literary works: one can forgive him should his emotion overcome academic reason).

He defined the ethno-political tensions as follows:

  • Electoral designs, ethnic representation, convergence of political and ethnic identities
  • (Ethnic ID = Political ID)
  • Ethnic opportunism, entrepreneurship and mobilisation
  • Ethnicised governance
  • Socio-cultural stereotyping
  • Diversion through scapegoating
  • Ethnic competition over state power
  • Ethnicised political culture
  • Power struggle within communities
  • Ethnicised coups

One may ask which of the above tensions are present under this current regime and which might be more accentuated as an unintended consequence.

The seminar (briefly, due to time constraints) analysed the stages of coups:

  1. Assuming Executive Authority;
  2. Formalisation of Military Council;
  3. Administration;
  4. Re-democratisation.

I would like to have posed further questions on the "success" and completeness of all those stages. With all the above in mind, it still remains clear that a swift return to an elected regime is essential, and that includes getting the military out of government.

One can argue that the military serves a role, and because of history, is an integral part of society and the administration but its role has no BETTER right to power than does any other institution.

  • TRAVP was a regular poster on the Fiji Village Talk forum until it was closed down by Communications Fiji Limited.

March 22, 2007

The People’s Manifesto: Part 1

Intelligentsiya has been growing as a forum where people can exchange views freely on matters that penetrate deep into our lives; issues that ultimately affect the path our society is taking.

Are we on the road to a free, fair and corruption-free Fiji or is this the beginnings of a brutal dictatorship?

The Fiji Military Forces are desperate to convince the population that it knows what its doing; that it is taking us back to the “way the world should be”.

The military is working to gather support from key figures to lend legitimacy to its rule in the eyes of the people. And on that score it has made a few hits.

The latest heavy-weight to express some sort of support for the military-installed interim regime is well-known academic Dr Satendra Nandan, whose name is recognized by most of us who went to school in Fiji as the author of several texts.

Dr Nandan has repeated descriptions of the Dec. 5 coup as the “lesser of two evils” compared to the alleged corrupt rule of the ousted government and declared Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama as a “modern leader”. (Read more about Dr Nandan's praise for the coup at Bainivore's blog, Hearts and Minds.)

On the face of it, public opinion seems to have swung away from the interim regime, which is obvious with the public sector unions voting to strike. Popular support for the military is wavering.

Fellow freedom blogger at "Discombobulated Bubu" has news from her patch of the Fijian heartland about villagers now beginning to question how this coup is turning out.

A majority of Intelligentsiya readers have advocated for peaceful but sustained resistance to this direction of this regime. Beginning today, we will occasionally summarize thoughts from our readers and present them as the People’s Manifesto.

A contributor called “Never say Die” who claims to be a former soldier has a straightforward reply to those who believe the military can pull off ruling a country with an iron-fist.

“Well, being a former soldier, I must say that this is why a career soldier is NOT suited to run a government. In the military, when you give orders, those below you (in rank) do not ask why but they do it. Like they always told us during recruit, ‘When I say jump, jump!!!’

Now that he has taken over the government, he tries to bring that military-style leadership to a democratic arena and I don't see any chance in hell for it to work out!

What he has managed to do is simply to harden the hearts and resolve of the people. And I tell you, when the souls of the people cry out, they will definitely be heard!!!

Just a few minutes ago, I heard on the news that Mr Bune said that nothing further will be said on the 5% pay cut and that what the Prime Minister said will stand, no matter what. If that is not dictatorship, I dont know what is!!!

Hope we will get our beloved country back before they take us to hell with them.”

An anonymous contributor said:

“And now the Military have gone and questioned Kenneth Zinck for comments he made on television about taking one's case to Court. Isn't that what the Military wanted in the first place? To use the current mechanisms and to avoid any "instability" (always perceived by the military I must add).

Goodness the military says to go to Court and when one does go to Court and tells the world about what has happened, the military takes the man in for questioning. So what else does the military not want the public to do? If someone's pay has to be docked I say dock 50% from all officers of the RFMF.”

Another reader, newsfiji, said: “It's so depressing! I'm sure we all don't want to see this same Fiji in the next 6 months. The big question is: What are we going to do about it?”

What are we going to do about it indeed? We continue to hold on to the hope that we will be delivered from this brewing dictatorship.

Start a movement for change by contributing to the People’s Manifesto today.

March 20, 2007

Makes a plea to civil servants and insults in same breath

This time tomorrow, civil servants will be eagerly awaiting their pay and it wont be in positive anticipation – but rather to find out just how much 5% means from their hard-earned income.

And whilst up in battle command – Teleni and Leweni continue to make veiled threats, Bainimarama has chosen to make a plea seeking the ‘cooperation and understanding’ or trade union leaders, civil servants and ordinary members of the public’ to move the country forward.

In a ministry of information statement and on television news, Bainimarama says a nationwide strike by the confederation of public sector unions could ‘undo the good work’ the Interim Regime has done so far.
One wonders what good work he means but in any case, he tries to explain why his regime has chosen to;
- implement a 5% pay cut for all civil servants;
- bring down retirement age to 55 on a staggered basis over two years; and
- review Government’s obligations under the Partnership Agreement.
Predictably he attributes the need to make civil servants bear the full brunt of his changes to the alleged ‘neglect, mismanagement and poor governance which existed over the last six years.’

It was the SDL and not the December 5 takeover, Bainimarama says which has put our economy on a path of decline which has beloved Fiji ‘facing a very serious and precarious situation. “

Contradicting himself, the head of the military says our country is suffering from both increased unemployment and underemployment.

Bainimarama also blames the Qarase-led government for the decline in production and investment and blames emigration on race based policies.

Above all though, the IR says the cost of maintaining the civil service pay accounts for over 40% of government expenditure which he says is clearly not in the interest of the nation “if we are to reduce poverty and to turn the economy around.”
Why all the fuss Bainimarama says when in following the coup in 1987 civil servants pay were cut by 15 % and by 12.5% in 2000.

Civil servants shouldn’t feel they will suffer alone either because the IR and their newly-elected Permanent Secretaries will also take a pay cut – and mind you, by as much as 35 % in some cases, never mind that this is not really a pay cut. The Military had from the start of the coup said the last government were excessively paid and any Interim administration he put in place would not put this country through the same treatment. Now he is calling it a pay-cut.

We should be glad also that this IR will not received allowances that elected representatives of the lower house are normally entitled to despite that their “workload as Ministers has increased almost twofold” – Bainimarama said.

And while we are talking about how good this IR is, lets talk about transparency because Bainimarama assures us he will reveal provide a full listing of what the salary and benefits of the respective Ministers are “for the purpose of transparency.” Pity that what is good for the goose is not good for the gander because apparently the military does not thrive on transparency – we are all still wondering what happened to Saki and Nimi and whether those soldiers responsible for their brutal deaths will ever see the inside of a court room.

But wait – the plot thickens because now Bainimarama is trying to confuse union members and accused union leaders of lies and deceit.

“I ask how much are the Union leaders sacrificing for their members?”
He says Partnership Agreement which came into being in 2006 was an agreement between the SDL government and the public sector union to secure votes. Somehow I cant imagine Rajeshwar Singh agreeing to that – but anyway, this is our Prime Minister we are talking about.

“As a result the civil servants were promised pay rises regardless of productivity. This obviously is at the expense of ordinary members of the public and the poor.”
Bainimarama ends by saying we must all share in the pain of the effects of the take over and civil servants cannot be willfully exempted from this.

It would be “irresponsible governance" to spare public servants from sharing in the burden of the takeover.
“I pray that you will work with us in moving our country forward.”

Before I sign off, please take time to visit our fellow Freedom Blogger who has something to say about dictatorship.

Putting our economic future in dire jeopardy

From Cassandra's desk

It would seem that much of Fiji's cyber fraternity has been closely following the Bainimarama regime's spectacularly unsuccessful attempts to stamp out a nest of bloggers. Good luck to them (the bloggers, I mean)! But one does wonder whether all the fist shaking and threats directed at are not just a puerile ploy aimed at shifting attention from more serious matters.

The bumbling ineptness... we're talking political savvy and economic management (not to mention inability to nail bloggers) of Voreqe Bainimarama's illegal regime is truly breathtaking. Apart from gratuitously killing a few people, its only other measurable achievement so far has been to put Fiji on a course for economic disaster. Just how big a disaster is hard to say. But on available evidence I believe anyone with even half a brain should be fearful. Exactly how it will affect them and the lives of their children, not to mention the entire Fijian community, I don't honestly know.

But we all know the crisis stalking Fiji stems directly from Bainimarama's reckless coup d'etat. And if putting our economic future in dire jeopardy wasn't enough, he further exacerbates the situation on a daily basis with his seemingly pathological post-coup posturing as a decisive "interim" PM. For example: He proclaims that human rights will be protected ... but we see people being illegally detained and beaten to death. He solemnly pledges in a televised national address that an election will be held in 2010 but days later tells Time Magazine it will take another year! How can any nation expect to be taken seriously by other nations and by potential investors if its leader, albeit a self-appointed one, is so demonstrably capricious, so down-right two faced and so manifestly lightweight?

We have already seen the initial negative economic shockwaves generated by the 5th December coup, namely the sharp downturn in tourist numbers and the flight of capital. And each time the regional or international media gives airplay to human rights abuses or hollow sabre rattling, it simply feeds negative perceptions on the part of governments and potential investors, making those perceptions all the stronger and herder to reverse.

It is the same reality and perceptions that will in the next few weeks force a European Commission decision to suspend the $360 million sugar restructure package. And over the longer term, can anyone predict the percentage shrinkage of Fiji's economy, say, for the next three years, due to the understandable inability of corporations (and welathy individuals) to invest in an uncertain and increasingly moribund business environment?

Thanks to Bainimarama's illegal actions and apparent desire to stay in power for as long as he possibly can, I see dark days ahead for Fiji and her people, very dark days indeed."

  • Cassandra is another blogger who normally posts ideas onto another forum which was recently taken off cyberspace by the Military.

March 19, 2007

About that state of emergency….

The interim regime today gave yet another deadline for when it would review the state of emergency – this time its March 31st.
Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said the IR was committed to reviewing the Public Emergency Regulations. The last extension was March 5.
A ministry of information statement said the military was responsive to how the public felt about “views on abuse of human rights and privileges” and would do its utmost to ensure that people continue to live their normal lives.
While the RFMF has slowly withdrawn its officers from checkpoints in favour of Police officers, Bainimarama has said soldiers would back up the men in blue.

"Back up will only be provided to Police when specifically requested,"
Bainimarama said.
The military boss claims his officers were now channelling complaints from members of the public to relevant government departments and the minfor statement is now calling on the public to “use the existing machinery of Government to pursue and seek redress to their grievances rather than lodge such complaints with the Military.”
"It is not the role for the Military to be involved in civil case investigations as these are matters for the Police , the Office of theDirector of Public Prosecutions and Judiciary to handle."
Bainimarama is now encouraging all members to make their human rights abuse complaints to the Police and Human Rights Commission for investigations, “without fear of intimidation.”
He says all human rights abuse cases would be thoroughly investigated on what he terms “an independent basis” by the Police and the Human Rights Commission.

March 18, 2007

Striking at the heart of the matter

So, the unions have an overwhelming response from their members to go ahead with strikes. The consequences of which will reverberate throughout our country.

But it is important to understand the sentiments from both camps. Union members, understandably, are fed up of feeling their wallets contracting diarrhoea every time there is political instability. And in this instance not even polemic statements about inefficient civil servants will wash. Every individual has the right to a livelihood no matter what their calling.

On the other hand, should strike action occur the nation could ground to a halt. Will it be fair on the rest of the populace and more importantly beneficial to our eroding economy?

These are times for hard decisions. Yes it is crucial that this junta (and any others in the making) realizes that any future coups will not get the support of the country’s biggest labour work-force. It is also hard for union members, who have been unnecessarily burdened with guilt-trip reflections like “think about the country”. It is these exact sentiments that should have been echoing in the brains of the junta before they took over.

And yet despite the doom and gloom surrounding our country right now, the looming strike has shed a ray of light. That even though our democracy is under attack, when it comes to the crunch we will bandy together to stand up against being treated like door-mats leaving all political, religious, cultural and emotional leanings aside.

Ahhhhhh the beauty of numbers. Let’s hope that this ray of light will metamorphasize into a rainbow and that we will see more numbers action real soon with an Election.

March 17, 2007

The pulse of the Pacific on Fiji

Isa Lei ragone!!

My heart almost skipped a beat when I watched the news last night because makubuna's my heart was sooo bursting with pride to be part of the Pacific Island family today.

Vinaka Vakalevu Pacific Island Forum leaders for respecting the views of Fijians like me who do not want this self-imposed (and illegal) government, while helplessly unable to do anything about it.

Vinaka Vakalevu for promoting human rights and the rule of law even if from the outside. Despite what detractors lament about inconsistencies on your home soil, the key missing part of their argument is the fact that your own citizens HAVE democratic processes in place with which to remedy excesses of the state—otherwise they just take it to the polls. We appear to have no separation of powers of the State.

Makubuna's there a story on the New Zealand Herald website that says the Forum has demanded that Fiji holds elections by August next year.

NZ Foreign Minister Winston Peters said: "I think the Fijian interim government knows that the international community means business, and so does the forum."

"The decision taken today means, in effect, that they will be requested to have elections by August 2008."

Read more about that on the NZHerald site.

For my makubuna's who would like to read for yourself exactly what the Pacific Island Leaders said, it is available on-line here:

…and also reproduced for your ease of reference below:


The following message is from Forum Secretariat:

The Press Statements section on the Forum Secretariat Website has been updated.

Title : Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting Outcome

Content :


16 March 2007



16 March 2007

Port Vila , Vanuatu


1. The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Pacific Islands Forum met in Port Vila, Vanuatu on 16 March 2007 to discuss the situation in Fiji and consider the Forum's response, under the Biketawa Declaration, to the actions of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) and the Fiji interim government. The meeting was chaired by the Hon Paul Tiensten, Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade of Papua New Guinea, and was attended by the Prime Minister of Samoa, the Premier of Niue and Ministers from Australia, the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. A delegation led by the Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Fiji attended in order to brief Ministers. Ministers expressed their appreciation to the Government of Vanuatu for hosting the meeting.

2. Ministers received a report from the Chair of the Forum Eminent Persons' Group (EPG) on the Group's visit to Fiji from 29 January to 1 February 2007, and endorsed its recommendations (attached) as a way forward to the restoration of constitutional and democratic government in Fiji. Ministers also received a presentation from the Fiji interim government in response to the EPG Report (attached).

3. Ministers reiterated their profound concern that the takeover of Government by the RFMF was unconstitutional and unacceptable. Ministers urged Fiji to expedite a return to parliamentary democracy as soon as possible. Ministers noted Fiji's 36 month time frame for a national election, its desire to return to democracy as soon as possible and its willingness to give consideration to a new timeline. Ministers affirmed the EPG's recommendation that the interim government should commit to a firm timetable for a national election which in the EPG's view should be held in between 18 months and 2 years, if not sooner.

4. Ministers agreed that the Forum should commence a staged process of engagement with the interim government to that end. Ministers agreed to recommend to Forum Leaders that on the basis of commitments and demonstrable progress by the interim government to the immediate cessation of human rights abuses and a roadmap back to democracy, a phased package of financial and technical assistance would be offered to Fiji including support for the electoral process, assistance for the establishment of a credible and independent anti-corruption commission, and assistance to restore and maintain the independence of the judiciary.

5. Ministers agreed that the Eminent Persons' Group should remain constituted to advance the matters covered by its report. Depending on the willingness of the Fiji interim authorities to participate in the process, the Forum could move to the establishment of a joint working group of officials from Member countries, with Fiji, to engage with the interim government including on credible mechanisms for returning to democracy as soon as possible. The joint working group would report to the EPG. Ministers invited the EPG to report to them on progress in approximately three months' time

6. Ministers requested the Secretary General to write to Forum Leaders informing them of these recommendations.

7. Ministers noted the statements and actions by the United Nations, the Commonwealth and several Post-Forum Dialogue Partners in response to developments in Fiji. Ministers reiterated their call on the international community to continue to identify what actions could be taken to support the restoration of constitutional and democratic governance in Fiji. Forum members were also encouraged to take bilateral actions in support of the recommendations agreed to by Ministers.

Forum Secretariat

Port Vila , Vanuatu

16 March 2007

Annex A



i. A firm restatement be made that, in the Forum's view, the takeover of Government by the RFMF on 5 December was unconstitutional and unacceptable;

ii. The RFMF should be called on to take immediate steps to withdraw from its involvement in the interim government with a view to restoring civilian rule as soon as possible, these steps to include the following:

    • the RFMF should return to barracks;
    • the Commander of the RFMF should vacate the position of interim Prime Minister and a civilian should be appointed to the post;
    • the State of Emergency should be lifted.

iii. The interim government should be called on to restrict its activities as follows:

    • the interim government should uphold the 1997 Constitution and interim decrees should be restricted in purpose and scope to matters necessary to meet the basic requirements of the community;
    • the interim government should respect and uphold Fiji's domestic and international obligations and, bearing in mind the regional implications of recent events, take full account of the views of Fiji's regional neighbours and the wider international community on the importance of Parliamentary Democracy and Constitutionality;
    • the interim government (and the RFMF) should immediately cease all interference with the Judiciary and accountable institutions, the Chief Justice should be reinstated to office;
    • the interim government (and the RFMF) should ensure citizens are free to seek legal redress in the courts in relation to the events on and following 5 December, and should be prepared to comply with any decisions of the courts in this regard.

iv. The interim government should be called on to commit without delay to a roadmap with measurable milestones which includes the following:

    • the interim government should commit to a firm timeframe for a national election (in the EPG's view this should be between eighteen months and two years, if not sooner);
    • the interim government should de-link the election timetable from its clean up campaign except in those areas directly related to the electoral process;

v. The Forum should call on the interim government and the RFMF to immediately cease human rights abuses.

vi. On the basis of commitments made by the interim government in regard to a roadmap and cessation of human rights abuses, the Forum should consider a phased package of assistance including:

    • financial and technical support for the electoral process;
    • financial and technical assistance for the establishment of a credible and independent anti-corruption commission;
    • assistance to restore the independence of the Judiciary.

vii. If the interim government chooses not to commit to a roadmap along these lines, and take the suggested steps, the Forum should consider further options.

viii. Judging from the reception given the EPG, and the overtures made for the Forum to engage in substantive dialogue to assist in the return to democracy, the EPG or a variant thereof, should remain in being and continue further dialogue in a closely engaged and phased manner.

ix. The next democratically elected government of Fiji should be encouraged to examine the roots of Fiji's 'coup culture' and the steps that need to be taken to eradicate it.

March 16, 2007

D-Day for Viti Lomani in Vanuatu

Eureka! Makubuna’s…Isa!!! I read this today and was moved to post this up as a Bu Josi “take” for today.

This is from an Intelligentsiya source who, understandably, was unable to get this Open Letter published.

Let’s continue to peacefully advocate for our civil liberties. If you are in support of this letter, use your e-networks to communicate your wishes to our Pacific Island Forum Leaders.

Butuka Ragone!


Open Letter to Pacific Forum Foreign Ministers

We are a group of deeply concerned Fijians, all of whom are influential in various spheres in Fiji, including government. We write to you both in our various capacities and as citizens who love their country.

Our main concern goes beyond the illegality of the coup by Commodore Bainimarama on 5 December 2006. It centres on the widespread incidence of serious human rights abuses that have been recorded since the coup. Our feeling of helplessness in the face of the more grotesque violations is made all the worse by the fact that we have no reason to believe what Commodore Bainimarama is planning, or is able to guarantee rights will be protected for as long as his regime is allowed to continue.

Indeed, the strongest documented evidence of the immorality of Commodore Bainimarama's actions can be found in the stark contrast between the falseness of his rhetoric and the all too grim reality of what is happening each day in Fiji.

The military can pull anyone off the streets for interrogation, even including some forms of torture, without good reason. Already two people have died under military interrogation. It is government by threat and fear. The RFMF continually threaten ordinary law-abiding citizens with physical harm if they even dare to criticise the new regime. This is not the Fijian way. It is not the Melanesian way. It is not the Pacific way.

Thank You Tumas therefore Melanesian Wantoks for your firm stand on Fiji.

We write therefore to urge all Pacific Forum Foreign Ministers to do their part to help Fiji restore the rule of democracy, to restore the basic human rights that Fijians enjoyed prior to December 5, and to seek the implementation of the full range of recommendations of the Eminent Persons Group. We do so in the expectation that Pacific Forum Foreign Ministers share our concern for the future of Fiji and for the credibility of the Forum's constituent members and their respective democratically elected governments.

We are encouraged by the stand taken to date by Forum members. We urge foreign ministers meeting in Port Vila to speak out in the name of democracy, in the name of human rights. We ask you to remember your responsibility as regional leaders, not just for the future of Fiji, but also for the future of the region itself.

We also take encouragement from the timely way in which the Forum has gone about addressing this most important of issues. But we should point out that there is no time to spare. It has taken only three months for the rule of law and proper judicial process in Fiji to be comprehensively compromised.

Honourable Leaders, on first December 2006, in your outcome statement from your meeting in Sydney you expressed your "profound concern" about the statements of Commodore Bainimarama. As you have seen, his actions are cause for even greater concern.

We place our trust in you to help our beautiful country and her people. Our eyes, and the eyes of the world, are upon you. Please do not let us down.

We sincerely apologize that, in the circumstances detailed above, we are unable at the time to list our names.

March 15, 2007

Now for some propaganda...

In case we are accused of being unfair, we are pleased to report today that the military junta has handed over an explanation of alleged cases of human rights violations by the army to the Fiji Human Rights Commission.

FHRC director Dr Shaista Shameem admiringly described how she received a “comprehensive” report from interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum on the allegations against the RFMF, since its Christmas Coup.

Dr Shameem said this will now allow the FHRC to investigate the allegations which will include responses from the complainant.

“As far as we are concerned, they are satisfactory responses,” says Dr Shameem, then hastens to add, “Not satisfactory necessarily (that) there are no violations, but satisfactory from our perspective that we have substantive responses and allegations (are) found to have substance.”

This statement appears to be the first substantive response to the military violations and the first time Dr Shameem admits abuses did occur.

Fijivillage points out: “Dr Shameem stresses that the FHRC is an independent body under the constitution and will continue to process all complaints through the normal procedures.”

Musharaf’s a copycat, or is it the other way around?

So who copied whom? The Fiji military has made it a point of highlighting Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf’s citing of the doctrine of necessity to carry out his 1999 coup.

But now we hear of accusations that Musharraf copied his Fijian counterpart Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama when he sacked that country’s Chief Justice.

Fijilive reports that a Pakistani opposition party – the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) – says Musharraf was copying Bainimarama’s example when he suspended Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry.

“The manner in which General Musharraf tried to conquer Supreme Court is most shameful,” said PML-N’s Secretary of Information Ahsan Iqbal in a statement.

“General Musharraf took the cue of his unconstitutional action from a fellow military dictator Voreqe Bainimarama of Fiji, who sent his Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki on forced leave on Jan. 3, 2007 on the pretext of allowing investigations into the judiciary on the grounds of purging corruption and misconduct from the institution of the judiciary.

Thanks to Fijilive for posting this gem.

Polls begin of voice of the people

Despite threats from the interim government that any form of industrial action would be illegal under the state of emergency, several public sector unions have begun balloting for a strike mandate.

The Fiji Public Service Association and the Fiji Teachers Union are expected to reveal the results of the ballot on whether to strike against the 5 percent civil service pay cut.

The Fiji Nurses Association has been given the green light to begin its secret ballot for a strike mandate.

Interim Labour Minister Bernadette Ganilau said they cannot do anything about a pending nationwide strike because an official warning of a strike had yet to be received by the ministry, Fijivillage reports.

The unions are not backing down on their threats to strike.

“We know the military will step in if we go on strike. We are only afraid of God,” Pita Delana, Public Employees Union general secretary told Fijilive.

What state of emergency?

And speaking of the state of emergency, its extension by a month last week passed by with hardly a mention in the media.

Fijilive reported only this week that the President had extended the Emergency Decree until early April. The extension was published in the state’s Extraordinary Gazette last week.

There’s hardly any fanfare now when the military quietly extends the provisions of the emergency month by month.

What’s the rush?

Fiji TV reported tonight the military says it won’t be rushed in its investigation into the death of 19-year-old Nadi youth Sakiusa Rabaka.

Army mouthpiece Major Neumi Leweni said a board of inquiry had convened “way before” the death of Rabaka. Rabaka underwent surgery after being assaulted in military custody in late January.

“Just because someone says that an investigation has to be taken, (doesn’t mean) we have to jump,” Leweni told 1 National News.

Before we end...

Here's a food for thought from the Fiji Daily Post about the development of online media as way of free expression for Fiji's citizens.

March 14, 2007

Military blog anger has chilling effect on cyberspace free speech

The fallout from the Fiji Military Forces' publicly-acknowledged hunt for the Intelligentsiya bloggers has continued to have an effect on free speech about Fiji in cyberspace.

Yesterday, Vijay Narayan, news director of Communications Fiji Limited and managing director William Parkinson were taken by officers from the new Anti-Corruption Unit over comments on its website -'s opinion and public forums about the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

By mid-afternoon the link from the homepage to the forum called FijiVillageTalk, had been removed. However, visitors could still access the forum by typing in the exact web address, By evening though the entire forum had been shut down (see image) .

Last Saturday, fearing retaliation for her musings on Fiji political life under the military regime, Ms Vakaivosavosa - a popular blogger, decided to shut down her blog.

However, in Ms Vakaivosavosa's wake, other bloggers determined to have a say in the rebuilding of Fiji have sprung up. See the links on the right.

March 13, 2007

Are we disturbing the peace?

Since the interim Attorney General accuses Intelligentsiya 0f disturbing the peace with misleading reports we now attempt to set things right.

Firstly, Intelligentsiya is a blog, a site personal to those involved. We did not set out to misinform or get the military hunting for us. And neither are we aligned with SDL or hoping for the reinstatement of the ousted government. All we want is to be able to freely talk about the issues that are affecting our lives under a military-led government.

And while have tried our best to verify claims before posting stories, we still remain a personal site and mistakes have been made. When we reported about a death in Vanua Levu linked to soldiers, we did so in good faith and did not set out to “deliberately misinform the public”.

We have since been informed that while the man in question did not die, he was very seriously wounded in an attack by soldiers and has not been taken to hospital. He is being cared for in a home in Vanua Levu. It is also understood a close relative of the man is in the military.

The AG Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum also took issue with our tally of military-related deaths. He took issue with our labelling the John Whippy murder as military-related because it was the result of a drunken brawl. The Navy Commander Francis Kean is on trial for Whippy’s death.

So we retract our earlier posting and say there have been TWO military connected deaths – not FOUR. The two deaths were that of Nimilote Verebasaga of Tailevu and Sakiusa Rabaka of Nadi. The deaths are being investigated by police, but there has been no word on the progress or outcome of these investigations.

We point out that Intelligentsiya reported the injuries and ultimate death of 19-year-old Sakiusa Rabaka, which turned out to be correct.

It seems Intelligentsiya has rubbed Fiji’s military and interim authority up the wrong way – and our incorrect report, repeated by the mainstream media, has given them ammunition to come after us. But we are in no way attempting to disturb the peace or incite violence, as our rulers have been at pains to label us as.

Let us continue to peacefully report and discuss issues that affect all citizens of Fiji. We maintain that citizens must be allowed to peacefully question their ruling power without fear. And that’s what we’ll do – peacefully.

PS: While the hunt goes on for Intelligentsiya bloggers, other blogs on Fiji have popped up, inspired by our example. Please welcome Discombobulated, Good Men and Women, Hearts and Minds and FreeMyFiji linked on the sidebar.

March 12, 2007

Vanua Levu beating did happen...but man believed still alive

Intelligentsiya reported last week the death of a man in Vanua Levu after being beaten up allegedly by soldiers. We have now obtained information that he did NOT die but was seriously assaulted.

He is believed to be still alive but very seriously wounded and being cared for in a secret location near Savusavu, according to our sources. It is believed he has not been taken to the hospital because he has a close relative in the military and they do not want it being publicized.

More later.

Behind the scenes of the Post Fiji strike

After the lightning strike by Post Fiji workers around the country on Friday over the sudden resignation of their Managing Director Peni Mau, the only indigenous Fijian manager to accompany the team to Government Buildings to discuss the standoff with the military government was taken away by soldiers to Queen Elizabeth Barracks for a talking to.

He was “questioned” for about an hour after being taken from the Post Office in Suva by two plain clothes military personnel. He was put in a cell at QEB and reportedly roughed up although not too badly as he recognized most of the soldiers.

The man was interrogated by Land Force Commander Colonel Pita Driti who grilled the manager on why the senior management of Post Fiji wanted Peni Mau back. Following the questioning he was returned to the Post Office where his wife had been waiting for him.

Intelligentsiya sources say the Post Fiji senior management convinced the rest of the Post Fiji staff (about300) to stop work on Friday to protest the board’s decision to force Mau out. They put forward two points – removal of the board and the return of Peni Mau.

The stop-work action was initiated by the senior management, and agreed upon by the rest of the staff, including the union members.

It was agreed that this would not be a union movement but a walkout by ALL staff over the two points mentioned.

The military were called in and some staff suspect it was by the two women at the Post Fiji Suva office who were the only ones to object to the strike.

The senior management were taken to Acting Commander Navy Captain Esala Teleni’s office to explain the move. Teleni opened the meeting by raging at them about how a strike was illegal and about the problems it would cause for the management and staff in general. He then invited them to explain themselves.

After explaining that this wasn't a union action and therefore could not be illegal under any Constitution, their request was put to the interim government via Teleni to have the Post Fiji board removed along with chairman Mahendra Patel and to reinstate Peni Mau.

Teleni promised them that 'they' had been looking at removing the chairman anyway and would give them what they wanted by the following Friday.

Both parties then agreed that all postal workers would return to work, which they did later that afternoon.

Now it's a waiting game to see what'll happen by Friday.

March 10, 2007

Bubu’s Take on Propaganda

Isa Lei Ragone if I knew our blogsite was going to be highlighted on prime-time news before the first ads on the television tonight I would have plastered my photo’s from my younger day’s on our blog…hee hee hee!!!

Isa and Vinaka Vakalevu makubuqu Leweni for giving us free national (and regional and international) PR.

But seriously makubuna’s it is quite clear that we have struck a nerve. All I can say to that is "welcome to the civilian arena" which is unlike the army where there is but one voice that everyone jumps to.

What is important for my blog today is to help all you makubuna’s understand just how powerful a military propaganda campaign can be. We all know that saying about being fore-warned and fore-armed.

Look back in history and see how wars were won just by propaganda.

But the definition of propaganda for someone from my era is what I would call LIES. Plain and simple lies, both white and black.

Makbuna’s we have been flooded with information about psychological warfare from Intelligentsiya sources. So as information is power, we will pass this on.

You will note that whenever there is an opportunity for the military regime to talk about their efforts there are key messages and words (perpetrator tiko vei iko!) that they will disseminate. These include:
• They have the overwhelming support of the whole country
• We were swimming in corruption (moral and economic) and the military regime is here to fix it
• Anybody who tries to swim against their tide is a threat to national security
• They really do have our best interests at heart and care about us

If you think about this approach, the more you hear it (even if you know deep down in your heart that things are not right) wouldn’t you resign yourself to going with the flow as it’s too risky to be looking at a barrel of a gun?

Of course you will have your own views about these points but all I ask is that you unravel what you are being presented with against what you experience. For example, is a 5% pay-cut a sign that a leader has your best interest at heart while the lavish use of rental car’s by the military abound??

And that makubuna’s is exactly where the military regime itself will fall down (without any help at all from Intelligentsiya). In governance you never touch the wallets of your subjects until you know with certainty that they will be happy to pay for it. Which in this world is hardly ever. Subjects pay taxes and don’t want to hear anything more about having to part with more money.

In order for this military regime to properly roll out all their messages they need to control the newsrooms so that they only disseminate their side of the story. This is why we are not on the list of favourable sources and why we are being looked for (oilei turaga!)

Another key tactic that is used in military propaganda campaigns is that of deflection where when a serious issue is highlighted (like murder) deflection can be either throwing you off the scent OR creating another issue that will take attention away from the original issue (fnpf “scam”).

Remembering also that right now our national money situation is quite bleak so having stories about human rights abuses making the New’s does not augur well for our strained relationship with the EU. We need their money MORE then ever.

Did any of you makubuna’s notice 2 key letters in today’s Fiji Times? One from the EU clarifying that they did not invite us but that military regime has offered a 3-member delegation to personally explain our situation (presuming that if they write formally to question our circumstances, we would respond formally in writing also). A second letter queries the fact that our budget doesn’t add up?? Interesting times ahead ragone.

Makubuqu’s from FMF you really have directed too much undue attention to Intelligentsiya. Here’s a PR tip: just ignore us. The more you poke to find us, the more we become underdogs and in a “hearts and minds” campaign, the underdogs always win. You should know this!

Anyway enough from me for now. Me da toso tikoga. Keep your wits about you makubuna’s.

The hunt for Intelligentsiya goes on...intimidating some bloggers and inspiring new ones

Today we report that Ms Vakaivosavosa, who has been a great alternative voice for Fiji in cyberspace, has taken down her blog because of an indirect threat from the military about blogs with "inciteful" contents.

The army's hunt for the Intelligentsiya bloggers (or perpetrators, as Leweni calls us) has had an effect on some - but not on all of us - or a whole new lot of inspired bloggers.

We received news today that Ms Vakaivosavosa was shutting down. As her "Last Post" she says, "I don't want to indirectly cause harm or fear in fellow bloggers so deleting the blog ensures that you won't be accused of supporting any perceived 'incitement' from this blog."

Never mind. We persevere. In better news today, an anonymous blogger nicknamed Veekay Bee, emailed to say "You guys were a great inspiration to me" so the blogger has put online Discombobulated. Welcome aboard Veekay Bee, the more the merrier.

We really should be reporting to you on stuff that matters (such as the continuing arbitrary arrests), but just bear with us a little longer while we explain the military's psyops (psychological operations) tactics in trying to instill enough fear in bloggers peacefully discussing our present and future in cyberspace.

Fiji TV in its 6pm news today ran an item on Intelligentsiya (and promoted it in the headlines) in which Major Neumi Leweni, army spokesman, said, "We are trying. We are trying to find them. At this moment we are following some leads."

He goes on to say the bloggers will be "taken to task" once they are found.

The reason? Intelligentsiya are "spreading rumours and information that is seen by the RFMF as damaging."

Also today, Fijilive writes that the army is looking for "someone who has good writing skills", not that we're the only ones who can string a "good" sentence together.

He refuses to disclose any more information about the search because "If we continue to talk to the media, things may not work out for us as the perpetrators will be informed on every move we do."

Getting wires crossed

I don't want to detract from the issue of what Intelligentsiya is about: telling it like it is about the human rights questions in Fiji under the army’s rule.

But there are a few points that need to be clarified about the frenzy to find the Intelligentsiya bloggers - The information ministry in its press statement referred to and so have other media outlets. But this blog is hosted on blogspot. Enough said about it though.

Another point – Interim AG Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum was on Niu FM in New Zealand suggesting that blogs such as Intelligentsiya are "inciting" (there's that word again) people to "violence". A simple visit to our blog and a read through some of the posts will show we advocate “intelligent resistance” not violence, which is more the army’s tactics.

You can listen to the AG at Niu FM here. But here’s a rough transcript of what he said:

"If you have people going around for example, trying incite people, trying to get them to cause violence, trying to get them to have direct violence against different peoples, or trying to create some sort of disturbance within society, then obviously these regulations are in place to ensure that that does not take place or reach fruition."

Again, enough said.

March 09, 2007

A model for Fiji

When Fiji's military took over the country, one of the models they cited was Pakistan, and it is clear from statements over several years that there is considerable admiration among the high command for Pervez Musharraf. Those who believe the army will usher in a corruption-free age would do well to reflect on this paragraph from the Wikipedia article on the Pakistani dictator:

"One of the expectations when Musharraf came to power was that the rampant corruption existing in government machinery would be cleaned up. Musharraf himself stated that a crackdown on corruption would be initiated but years into his administration, many neutral analysts have noted that the military regime is letting the corrupt go free. In fact, according to a survey by Transparency International , Musharraf's regime is now perceived by many Pakistanis to be more corrupt than the previous democratic governments led by Ms. Bhutto and Sharif. Critics of his administration point to the fact that Pakistan, which was placed at 79 in the ranking 5 years back is now ranked at 142 putting them at one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Columnists like Irfan Hussain state that the present regime is more corrupt than the one it replaced, which was accused of corruption, and that "crooks are flourishing more than ever before". There have also been allegations that corrupt servicemen aren't being prosecuted because of the Military Junta 's clout. Pakistani media too have alleged that individual corruption of the previous government was replaced by institutionalised corruption of the Pakistan Army, awarding land deeds and a life of luxury to its officers. During his trip to the US to promote his book, he was accused by many back in Pakistan to have cost the government exchequer up to $1 million, for which he was criticised by opposition parties."

(Pervez Musharraf. (2007, March 8). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved, March, 2007, from

Transparency International's Fiji luminaries might also reflect on this excerpt in light of their decision to "co-operate" with the regime.

The mind boggles... (or Googles, as the case may be) the sudden centre-stage spotlight attention on Intelligentsiya.

Where one would expect the substance of our blogs to warrant attention (we ARE talking about human lives here people), in true propaganda deflection mode, the messenger is being shot at instead (pun intended).

The Ministry of Information has released a statement more or less warning our local media houses not to refer to Intelligentsiya. We will continue to post our thoughts unabashed. And we do recognise that the "pinpoint the enemy" tactic has been deployed.

A shout-out to you "savusavu4ever" --- thank you for your comments. We hope we can be in touch soon [].

Kudos to the Post Fiji staff who today stood up to intimidation. That's all it takes folks. Some collectively stiff backbones that will not wilt under psychological pressure.

Stand by...the ride has just begun!

Bubu Stands Up Now

And so it is crunch time my makubuna's.

Now that the military seem's well and truly intent on finding Intelligentsiya bloggers, I would like to give an update on what led to this.

Intelligentsiya reported on Monday the death of a villager in Vanua Levu which we alleged was at the hands of soldiers - we did not name the man, his village nor give his age. In the days leading up to the posting, we had heard that line from various sources - each blogger received similar information. We have the individual's name and village. We attempted to check the story for several days while it was being talked about in newsrooms - but not reported.

While it may be possible that the man, whose identity we know, died from other causes, we stand by our report until facts emerge to prove otherwise.

If we have made a mistake, such proof has not yet emerged.

Intelligentsiya first learned that a "hunt" was on when it was broadcast on Legend FM and sent out in its text alerts.

We have not received any communication from the military, but have received lots of supportive emails from individuals the world over, especially those in Viti Lomani.

Major Neumi Leweni last night said a "major academic institution" was suspected of being the "base" for Intelligentsiya. We have no base. Each blogger is completely independent from each other and the interaction is only and all in the e-realm. Neither are we academics (Ok maku's got to be honest---I think I AM a bit of an academic as I've been through the school of hard knocks which has given me a MBA in Life Studies) , as Leweni's comments would suggest.

But circumstances aside, the recent remarks of the NZ Government hold especially true for people of Fiji right now.

That is, in the face of our current political crisis we people of Fiji as individuals, parents, students, professionals, technocrats, businesspeople, religious sects and communities, grandparents etc must ACT.

So Intelligentsiya is under attack...boohoohoo…gone today and yes another one will crop up tomorrow. Many of you who read it feel the same pains and passions that we do. But the question remains, who else out there cries for our country and is willing to ACT and continue this fight?

Will we remain tunnel-visioned and believe that all of our tomorrows will be brighter if we just let it slide or let the lawyers handle it in court later?

We don't get off that easy makubuna's. Our tomorrow's can only be bettered by our actions today. Complacency and the "don't rock the military boat" lament is not an option. If this is the only window that you see, please don't think for a minute that we will escape this coup cycle. We will, by passively condoning this coup, willingly and knowingly pass on to our future generations a heritage of more coups. Make no mistake about it.

We are told that our Constitution is still being upheld. So therefore constitutionally speaking, even under a state of emergency the freedom from cruel and degrading treatment is ABSOLUTE — has this been evident from 5 December?

To ACT does not mean that we are to go all out and hold a grand protest march. To act also means the following basic approaches:

  • refusing to be fooled by attempts of this military regime of all their wonderful discoveries of corruption and clean-up—only an INDEPENDENT court of law will have the final say on that;
  • passively refusing to acknowledge this interim administration and only if necessary reverting to titles but not names. When all this hits the courts (and it will very soon) the military regime will have to PROVE that they had the support of the people—Silence IS ASSENT….so whichever and however you SAFELY make your views known, make them known. For folks who maintain contacts with rural veiwekani please continue to communicate the REAL stories to them. We battle the likes of Sitiveni Raturala who is specifically tasked with winning the hearts and minds campaign of Kaiviti in the rural areas;
  • asking questions EVERY TIME you watch, hear, read media reports. Do not believe everything that is presented to you makubuna's….the media are also working under trying circumstances and have been hauled up for "enlightenment sessions" at the camp. The acid test to this is that if all the hype from the military regime is one-way traffic, then there is a problem;
  • resisting any hype about moving the country forward. The only way this country can move forward is through a democratically elected government. Therefore elections should be happening very soon if this military regime was really committed to moving the country forward.

We stand ready for anything and we know that the biggest battle right now will be the terror tactics and the propaganda war.

In the meantime, a heated cyber-scuffle from more of my makubuna's are happening in Fiji Village Talk in two strands - one cheering for Intelligentsiya (titled "Hoorah for Intelligentsiya) and the other suggesting our days are numbered (titled "Games up for Intelligentsiya).

As of midnight on Thursday, all Intelligentsiya collaborators had still not been "arrested". Leweni, I see on Fijilive, says the army knows who we are and are tracking us down. He also said they had lodged a complaint with police about the blog.

We refuse to be intimidated by this military "information warfare" and will continue to speak our minds in this time of fear and paranoia.

Stand with Intelligentsiya in cyberspace today and ACT. We firmly remain committed to democracy, the rule of law and the freedom of information.

For Fiji Ever Fiji.

Yours in freedom -- Bubu Josivini.