September 10, 2013

Reaction to constitution in Fiji

Updated 6 September 2013, 16:44 AEST

For a reaction from the streets of Fiji and some detail on the implications of the new constitution, Bruce Hill spoke to our reporter in Suva, Samisoni Pareti.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: Samisoni Pareti

PARETI: There was a non-violent peaceful kind of a protest organised by some pro-democracy movement, as well as some political parties. About 30 to 40 of them, men and women turned up directly opposite the main entrance of government house, which is the official residence of the president at about 11 o'clock Fiji time and they hold placards and were holding a protest, when police arrived and broke up the protest, took about 14 men and women, mostly young people, who were holding placards, put them in a bus and took them over to the police headquarters to be charged.

HILL: Do we know why there were arrested, because we just heard President Nailatikau talking about the Constitution having freedom of expression and freedom of speech?

PARETI: Hmm, what the protesters were told was that it's unlawfull for them to be holding placards, placards that were sort of denouncing the new Constitution on that ground they took them in and also I believe from what transpired in the event later this afternoon, by the speeches by the President that the new Constitution actually doesn't come into effect until tomorrow.

HILL: What actually happened to those demonstrators. In the end, have they been arrested, will they be charged with anything or have they been released?

PARETI: They've been released about an hour of detention, they were questioned by a CID detectives, police detectives and released later.

HILL: Has there been any reaction in Fiji to this demonstration at all or are people mainly focused on the ceremony at Government House itself?

PARETI: Well, knowing how things transpire in this country, there's been a little reaction. The most of the feedback and the chat around what happened today is basically through, communicated,  on the social media, but otherwise, I think the fact that there was a demonstration is becoming a new thing now for this country. It's been awhile since we've had one, so that really continued and ignited the discussions on social media. Otherwise, we still have yet to see some other reactions or response from other parts of the country.

HILL: It is somewhat unusual to see a public demonstration like this. Is this something that Fiji's perhaps going to have to get used to as it moves towards the democratic elections next year or are people still a bit afraid to come out?

PARETI: Well basically, that's what the political leaders said. They said today was only the start. There will be more peaceful protests of this sort. So I guess Fiji will have to get used to seeing this seeing this. I mean under the Constitution a gathering of this sort is allowed, so I guess they're giving us a hint that they'll be organising more peaceful protests of this sort against the Constitution and against Bainimarama government.

No comments: