A Fiji democracy advocate who posted on Facebook that “living in a military dictatorship sucks” was raided before dawn today by police demanding he delete his public postings.
Pita Waqavonovono told Stuff that three uniformed police officers visited him at his home at 4am and told him to take down his anti-regime Facebook messages.
The regime seems focused on suppressing dissent, rather than making progress towards democracy. Even worse is this Radio NZ report:
Constitution Commission chairperson, Yash Ghai, who was appointed by the interim government, was reportedly abused by the police as he tried to intervene at the printing shop the week before last.
A senior military officer, Lieutenant Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga, told the Fiji Times they stopped the printing of the 600 copies because the documents’ distribution by the Constitution Commission is illegal.
However, a commission member, Peni Moore, has confirmed that the draft document will be released on its website within the next few days, after earlier versions were distributed via the internet.
So why is the regime trying to suppress the proposed draft constitution? Because it doesn’t keep the military as the unelected overlords of Fiji.
Radio Australia has fuller details of the Police action.
The new constitution’s explanatory notes said it ”emphasises that the military does not have any role as a guardian of the constitution or conscience of the nation”.
It said the military’s role was to protect the country ”from external threats” and was under civilian control through the elected parliament.
The post of president will no longer be termed ”commander in chief” and security force members must not obey manifestly illegal orders.
”But it is of particular relevance to the military, especially in a country with a record of coups,” the notes said.
A manifestly illegal order ”includes carrying out a coup”.
The new constitution also said there would be no justification for a coup and warned no immunity would be granted for any coup.
But it contains a continued immunity for Rabuka and now Bainimarama, both of whom could face treason charges under previous constitutions.
Immunity would only apply to people who take an oath which says that they accept the sovereignty of the people.
This is how it should be, and must be. I agree with the immunity for past actions – however the coup culture must come to an end. It is a basic human right for people to be able to elect and sack a Government.