Now Fiji is deporting a priest

January 26th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Michael Field at Stuff reports:

’s military regime says it is deporting a Catholic priest who had been the subject of abusive text messages and phone calls by military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama.

So what did he do to get deported?

Barr, who has lived in Fiji for 32 years, was long seen as a Bainimarama supporter but earlier this month he was subjected to a torrent of abuse after he suggested the Chinese flag could replace the Union Jack on Fiji’s planned new flag.

So let’s be clear on this. He has lived there for 32 years, and has actually been a supporter of the Commodore. His crime was to write a letter to the editor that joked about putting the Chinese emblem on Fiji’s flag (as the Commodore has taken so much money from the Chinese). That is not a deportable offence in Fiji!

But after he made the Chinese crack in a letter to the Fiji Sun, he got a phone call from Bainimarama himself.

“Then in a very angry voice he said that I should apologise to the people of Fiji for my letter concerning the Fijian flag in the newspaper,” Barr said in a letter he wrote privately to the Australian High Commission but which has been leaked in blogs.

Barr confirmed to Fairfax Media it was his letter.

“(Bainimarama) then called me ‘a f***** up priest’ and said I had become anti-government,” Barr said.

He repeated the phrase again and threw in a few swear words and told him to go back to where he came from.

“His tone was angry and really over the top.”

Minutes later he got a text message from Bainimarama: “I think you owe the people of Fiji an apology for your childish comments. You give all Catholic priests a bad name.”

Barr said he replied that he was not anti-government but disappointed at some developments.

He then got a reply from Bainimarama: “F*** U a***hole. Stay well away from me.”

Shortly later he got another text telling him to “start saying your goodbyes” and pointing out his work permit expired at the end of the year: “Go and be a missionary in China”.

If that is how the Commodore reacts to a semi-satirical letter to the editor, do you think there is any chance he will hand over power? Sure there will be elections, but will they be free or fair? Or will anyone who criticises him be deported?

Coup 4.5 has further details of the exchange:

There was yet another text message just as he was going to lunch which said: “Fuck U arsehole. Stay well away from me.” I texted back: “Thank you Sir for the nice words. If you want me to apologise I will do as you wish.”

“As I was having lunch another text arrived: “Start saying your goodbyes Father Kevin James Barr, Australian national, work permit as a missionary, expiry date for permit 31/12/2013.” 

“I did not reply. Then came the final text: “Go and be a missionary in China”.

The Commodore seems rather unstable. Father Barr is 76 and spent almost half his life in Fiji. But an enemy of the state for simply writing a letter to a newspaper. Anyone who claims to support freedom of speech should be dismayed by this development.

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13 Responses to “Now Fiji is deporting a priest”

  1. hinamanu (2,352 comments) says:

    For my own part I think the Commodore is angry because Fiji has worked hard to keep china out. Especially bribes to help Fiji so China could build berths for Chinese ships. This is basically why Labour ousted Fiji. China wants a pacific base and judging how hard National helped the Chinese cause concerning the Crafer Farms, National is no different.

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  2. Harriet (4,970 comments) says:

    It’s no longer about fair and free elections in Fiji.

    Like everywhere else, the longer military control is in place, the weaker the existing institutions become. What is going to replace the Army that will satisfy the fijian ethnics now?

    England, Australia, NZ, and India should have placed arms embargoes etc on Fiji from day one.

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  3. gump (1,647 comments) says:

    I look forward to Whaleoil coming here to explain why Bainimarama is just a big old softy, and how this is all just a misunderstanding.

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  4. David Garrett (7,272 comments) says:

    Is it recorded what time this txt exchange took place? It reads like a piss fueled one to me…

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  5. All_on_Red (1,582 comments) says:

    Agree DG. Putting aside the Commodores intemperate comments, ALL priests should avoid political comment. And criticising the flag of the country you are staying in is just rude.
    He should STFU

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  6. pollywog (1,153 comments) says:

    Our Samoan PM doesn’t mince words…

    http://www.samoaobserver.ws/home/headlines/2875-fiji-pm-dumb-foot-soldier

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  7. tristanb (1,127 comments) says:

    Can we stop giving aid to all of these places? Apparently the government put aside $5 million in 2011/2012 for Fiji.

    Why are we wasting money like this?

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  8. RRM (9,919 comments) says:

    All of a sudden I find myself warming slightly to Rear Admiral Bananarama.

    Boot the organised religion out of the country – that’s actually a really good idea!

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  9. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    I thought they were all Methodists in Fiji anyway, what’re those Catholics up to over there?

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  10. Paulus (2,627 comments) says:

    Deportation cancelled.
    The Pope must have intervened.

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  11. Whaleoil (767 comments) says:

    Oh the words of Michael Field and a bunch of Auckland based anonymous bloggers are gospel now…Field lied about the last big story he splashed all over the press, which Farrar repeated…what makes this any different?

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  12. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Imagine that – bloggers lying.

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  13. Paul G. Buchanan (293 comments) says:

    The Commodore’s odd texts notwithstanding, the rejection of the draft constitution and new law on political parties are good signs of what the military regime intends for Fiji down the road: http://36th-parallel.com/2013/01/futures-forecast-a-guarded-democracy-in-fiji/

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