November 01, 2011

Fiji confirms union leader detained

Once again, unions rally together in solidarity in readiness to defend one of their own as the illegal and treasonous military regime clamp down on advocates of workers rights, while the militarily pliant tourism industry bleat pathetically about their unequivocal right to continue to make a buck off the backs of workers and resource owners in Fiji.
Fiji confirms union leader detained
Last updated 08:14 01/11/2011

Fiji's military regime has detained a leading trade unionist and says he will face unspecified charges soon while they look for others.

Fiji Trade Union Congress president Daniel Urai Manufolau was taken as he arrived off an aircraft at Nadi International Airport on Saturday, returning from a Commonwealth meeting in Perth.

In a statement it says Urai "is being questioned on various issues relating to ongoing criminal investigations".

Assistant Police Commissioner Police Henry Brown said charges were expected to be laid soon.

"The Fiji Police Force is expected to question other persons of interest relating to these investigations," the statement said.

"As this is an ongoing criminal investigation there will be no further comment until the investigation is complete."

Fiji is ruled by military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama who seized power in an armed coup in 2006.

Urai joins New Zealand businessman Jagath Karunaratne in custody on sedition charges linked to anti-Bainimarama graffiti.

An unknown group calling itself the Viti Revolutionary Forces has claimed responsibility for the graffiti.

Four others, all Fijian, are also in custody over the hastily painted graffiti which said things like "PM out you lier" (sic), "RFMF remove Frank ... VRT" and "PM your time is over".

On Sunday, ACTU president Ged Kearney said Urai's arrest meant "repression of human and trade union rights has sunk to a new low".

She said the Fijian Government was becoming increasingly arrogant in its persecution of the union and opposition leaders, despite growing international condemnation.

"It appears the intimidation of workers and their representatives in Fiji has entered a dangerous new phase," Kearney said.

New Zealand Council of Trade Unions secretary Peter Conway called for the immediate release of Urai.

"This is a further breach of human rights in Fiji and yet another example of the intimidation of unions," he said.

"This is in the context of union opposition to the military dictatorship imposing decrees which drastically remove fundamental worker and trade union rights."

Conway said that he was concerned about Urai's welfare given the beatings that some union officials have received while in custody.

"New Zealanders need to consider these issues when planning holidays to Fiji. It is a military dictatorship that routinely breaches human rights". 

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