April 12, 2009

Take a stand: Wear a black armband to protest the April 10 Treason

Let's not play with words and just tell it like it is - we are now well and truly living under dictatorship. With the Constitution now torn up, our rights taken away, and self-appointed rulers imposing their will on us, it's time to make a stand.

If you feel, your actions as an individual cannot make a difference, think again. There's the saying about the straw that breaks the camel's back - any little resistance from those of us who are suffering the brunt of the actions of this illegal junta will make a difference - if not immediately, it will eventually.

We congratulate the Sunday Times for taking a stand today. Page two was blank in today's edition with the notice that "The stories on this page could not be published due to Government restrictions." Same thing on Page 3, where there were six "holes" from which articles had been removed. The cartoon on the editorial page could not be printed too because it was deemed critical of the military's president and their actions since the treasonous events of April 10 - yet another Black Friday to add to Fiji's list. The mere fact that there were empty pages spoke more than words alone could have achieved.

Because of the Fiji Times' brave stand, don't be surprised if they are forced to close and the publisher deported. Media freedom is under attack, and by extension, your right to know what's going on has been taken away. It's a case of the military dictatorship telling the people, "When we want your opinion, we'll give it to you."

We say wear a black armband everyday as a silent, yet powerfully symbolic way of resisting this illegal junta. A black armband is simple and states that you are in mourning. We need to mourn the murder of our Constitution.

Bainimarama told the nation on TV on Saturday night that it is a fresh start, along with all usual rhetoric. But what a start it has been with enforced media censorship and absolutely no toleration of criticism. He claimed that ordinary people from the rural areas and everywhere else had been praising the interim government for what they've done. Says who? How do we know he's not just making this all up? At least they should not insult ordinary citizens' intelligence, because we doubt the ordinary people believe the rhetoric any more.

People of Fiji must reclaim what's been taken from them. Watching Bainimarama and his ministers take the "oath" of office, was gut-wrenching. They used whatever words were suitable from the 1997 Constitution and swore to do what's right "according to law"! What law? Their law? What they really meant was they would do what's right according to their own vision of what that is.

So wear a black armband to show you do not consent to this high treason. What happened on Friday after the Appeals Court ruling, was just another coup. Yet this has been the most blatant of power-grabs since Fiji's coup-cycle began in 1987.

This time the President himself has been involved, even though we all know he is just a puppet for the military junta.

Mobilize your family, friends and yourself - wear a black armband when you go to work on Tuesday, school or out in town. Do not think for one moment that such a seemingly small act will not have an effect. Just imagine in the weeks ahead if hundreds of people begin emerging in the streets with black armbands. That will be one way to show this junta and Bainimarama that they do not have the consent of the people - consent they claim to have.

Do not take this treason lying down.

The aims of what they are trying to do make look good on paper, but history shows us that force of arms never works in the long-term.

Grahame Leung, the constitutional lawyer, put it well when he said that no matter what the military tries to do - rubbish up the Constitution, take people's rights away, sack the judiciary, whatever, the people's desire to live in freedom is very hard to kill.

Wearing a black armband will show that your desire to live in peace and freedom has not been killed, even if they have killed the Constitution.

In solidarity,

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