Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Firstly, we have to shift our minds away from the narrow, exclusivist, partisan and self-serving political agenda and begin to see the interest of the nation as paramount. That is the bottom line.
We all have our party, religious, organisational, vanua and personal loyalties and interests, however, at this point in time, these should be subservient to the common national good. Despite official optimism, our economy is not doing well, investor confidence is down, socio-political relations are at their lowest and national moral is in tatters.
Yet despite all these we are still trying to win political and moral points over our adversaries as if that will solve our collective problems when the opposite is in fact happening.
Secondly, on a more practical note, we need to identify the good suggestions from both sides and synthesise them into a common proposal for national reconciliation. Both the proposed People's Charter and Ratu Inoke's proposal contain points worth considering and discussing.
Thirdly, we urgently need to put in place a reconciliation process as well as a framework for political stability for the future before the election. To do that after the election, although constitutionally legitimate, would be politically too late. Since the hurt and pain are very deeply embedded, the election could become an arena for expressions of anger, vindictivenessand vengeance and these have the potential to rear their ugly heads again after the election.
Historically, political instabilities in Fiji have only happened after elections. The pre-election differences, antagonism and volatility will haunt us once again after the next election if we are not careful. That's why it is important to put in place a reconciliation and post-election governance framework we all agree on well before the election. - Fiji Times photo with Ratuva article
Sunday, September 9, 2007
First the good news: Charges against Tonga's five People's Representatives accused over last November's rioting in Nukualofa, Tonga, have been cut back. The bad news? The outspoken MPs are still the Tongan establishment's main scapegoats for the rioting. They're now still facing one charge of sedition each. Chief Justice Anthony Ford has announced the drop of some charges in the Supreme Court.
According to Matangi Tonga, pro-democracy advocates 'Akilisi Pohiva, 'Isileli Pulu, Clive Edwards, 'Uliti Uata and Lepolo Taunisila, first appeared in the Nuku'alofa Supreme Court on July 18 and were charged with one count of sedition and six counts of abetment to cause disruption resulting in the destruction of six different premises, including the Molisi Tonga Supermarket, Pacific Royale Hotel, Tungi Arcade, Shoreline Building, Fung Shing Supermarket and the Leiola Duty Free Shop in the November 16 riot.
Chief Justice Ford told the court that it had received notice two days ago that Crown Law intended to withdraw the previous indictments and file new indictments of sedition only against each accused. All five accused were all present in court, pleading not guilty. Pictured: Scoop photo of 'Akilisi Pohiva
Friday, September 7, 2007
Bainimarama and his band of merry men have now confirmed beyond any doubt of Fiji's status as a banana republic.
Until now, the people of Fiji lived in hope that the Fiji Military and it supporters and apologists were genuinely interested in helping move the country forward.
This latest action by the military and its installed puppet government leaves no doubt that they are only interested in keeping themselves in power.
People should be allowed to voice their opinions freely and not be held hostage by the gun.
The only positive way forward for Fiji is for all leaders (political, communal, military, business and religious) to work together and find common ground. By rejecting or ignoring certain factions or sectors will only delay a feasible solution to Fiji's problems.
It is the time for negotiations to start, goodwill to prevail, and a return to democracy.
The Coalition dor Democracy has called on the Fiji military to respect the rule of law and to follow constitutional processes to help resolve issues and disagreements.
The CDF is a group made up of former Fiji residents, and concerned New Zealanders. It has been active since 1987 in support of the fight for the rights of Fiji people and Fiji democracy.
Contact Nik Naidu.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
High Court Judge Justice Roger Coventry also ruled that the Attorney General as sixth defendant be liable to payout $250,000 plus five per cent interest.
The army officers whom Justice Coventry had previously found to be represented by the Attorney General have been ordered to pay Anirudh a further $150,000 plus five per cent interest.
University of the South Pacific academic Anirudh, an outspoken campaigner for human rights, was abducted from his home in Rewa Street, Suva, by five soldiers from the Special Operations Security Unit and taken to the forests of Colo-i-Suva where he was hooded, beaten up and tortured.
The five soldiers involved, including former Special Air Services officer Captain Sotia Ponijese, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 12 months in jail. In 1993 Dr Singh took the case to the High Court claiming general, special and exemplary damages for his pain, suffering and loss of enjoyment of life.
Ironically, the judgment came on the same day that the current regime in Fiji reimposed its state of emergency and a further clamp on free speech!
Inset: Auckland Star clipping of one of my stories about the abduction and torture of Anirudh Singh, 17 December 1990.
High Court awards $400,000 plus to Dr Singh
Keep quiet, Qarase told
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
What are The BOBs?
For the next four weeks, internet users are invited to go to www.thebobs.com to nominate the best blogs in 15 categories. The competition is open to blogs, podcasts and videoblogs in the following 10 languages - Arabic, Chinese, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Portugese, Russian and Spanish.
The BOBs are the world’s biggest international blog awards and offer a broad overview of the blogosphere, the rapidly evolving world of weblogs, videoblogs and podcasts. The winners are chosen by the public and a jury. Last year, more than 5,500 blogs were nominated and more than 100,000 Internet users took part in the online voting.
Monday, September 3, 2007
Tariana Turia: A true agent of transformation has left us. Syd has lived his life with a totally unswerving commitment to revolution.
Some forty years ago in 1968, it was Syd, the son of the 1937 All Black and Māori Battalion veteran Everard Jackson, who challenged the Federation of New Zealand Māori Students that All Black tours to South Africa should be opposed as a stand against apartheid.
His leadership of Ngā Tamatoa in the 1970s, and their staunch advocacy of Brown Power, laid the foundation for a dynamic period of Māori renaissance. Syd Jackson was the former president of the Auckland Maori Students Union and activist group Nga Tamatoa.
Pita Sharples: We think of the inspiration of Syd in firmly placing Te Tiriti o Waitangi on the political agenda in all spheres. He spearheaded the drive for learning te reo Māori, bringing social awareness to the marginalisation of Māori in New Zealand while at the same time being such a proud advocate of tino rangatiratanga.
Syd has made an enormous political impact on Aotearoa, particularly through his role in the union movement. He had the keen intellect to grasp complex issues, a quality which you would see coming through in campaigns such as encouraging Libya to boycott trade with New Zealand, or protesting against APEC.
In more recent years, he brought that same passion and zeal to the health movement, establishing Turuki Healthcare as a pioneering organisation to deliver affordable and accessible healthcare for the people of South Auckland.
Turia: The tragic irony is that right up until the end, Syd pursued his crusade against cancer not just for his own powerful determination to live but also to argue for the rights for all Māori cancer sufferers.
Syd will be very, very sadly missed. His Liberation Talkback radioshow gave us all heart to act, to take a stand, to look after our people.
Our love and compassion goes to his darling Deirdre, the Jackson whānau, Ngāti Kahunungu and Ngāti Porou who have shared a remarkable man with us - a man who truly dedicated his life to staying true to the kaupapa, to tino rangatiratanga. His legacy has been and will continue to be profound.
Sunday, September 2, 2007
DUTCH GOVERNMENT IS TORTURING PROFESSOR SISON;
JUDGE EXTENDS HIS DETENTION FOR 14 MORE DAYS
Julie De Lima, wife of Professor Sison, tried to see him last Thursday but was denied to see him. She said she also brought some medicines and warm clothes, but prison authorities said these were not allowed.
Professor Sison is being detained at the National Penitentiary in Scheveningen, a facility with was used by the Nazi's during World War II to imprison and torture Dutch resistance fighters. Committee Defend also said despite the weak evidence presented by the Dutch prosecutor in yesterday's remand hearing in The Hague , the Dutch judge extended the detention of Professor Sison to 14 more days.
Another hearing to examine the evidence has been set on Sept. 7. Committee Defend strongly condemned the torture being done to Professor Sison by the Dutch government and reiterated what it declared in an earlier statement that it will hold the Dutch
government responsible for any harm done to Professor Sison, including another possible kidnapping to bring him to a country outside the Netherlands. It also called on the Dutch government to end Sison's solitary confinement, allow visits from his wife, and access to his medicines and other basic necessities.
"What they are doing to Professor Sison, the way they treat him, violates his basic rights. He is still in the stage of being heard and investigated. What happened to the Dutch government's adherence to basic human rights?" said Dr. Jun Saturay of Committee Defend.
During the hearing yesterday at the Palace of Justice in the Hague, dozens of solidarity activists rallied outside the gates of the Justice building. They carried posters and shouted "Free Jose Maria Sison, now!". They sang songs and recited poems. Several Dutch and international media covered the rally.
"The persecution of Sison through the use of the judicial processes exposes the rottenness and corruption of the Dutch justice and political system," stressed W. Wijk, during a speech at the rally. He told Filipinos present that the fight for the rights and life of Professor Sison is also a fight of all freedom-loving and reasonable Dutch citizens.
The solidarity activists vowed to continue protest actions in support of Professor Sison and said they will rally again on Sept. 7, Sison's next hearing.
Analysis of state terrorism against Filipinos - background to the arrest
Saturday, September 1, 2007
So whose story should Solomon Islands ordinary citizens believe – Moti’s or the Registrar of Vanuatu Supreme Court? The credibility of the two men is at stake. You be the judge.
For me, enough is enough. It is important Moti clears his good name before holding the nation’s top legal post. He has nothing to lose if he has nothing to hide. Let’s get out of pushing ourselves on to the listing of the laughing stock nations of the world in this mad case controversy. It is total madness to continue with it.
The suggestion that Solomon Islands should take the matter to the International Court of Justice is just as laughable as it is unbelievable. Gee, there must be something in Moti most Solomon Islanders don’t seem to see that we are prepared to throw in every ounce of the nation’s resources to back the man up all the way to The Hague?
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
>>> Video newsfeed
Sison lawyer, Dutch authorities confirm CPP founder's arrest
By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, Thea Alberto
Last updated 09:14pm (Mla time) 08/28/2007
MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATE 2) A lawyer of Jose Ma. Sison in The Netherlands and Dutch authorities have confirmed the arrest of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Tuesday.
"The communist leader was suspected of giving orders, from the
Netherlands, to murder his former political associates in the
Philippines, Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara," the Dutch national
prosecutor's office said in a statement quoted in an Agence
Kintanar and Tabara led a faction of the CPP that broke away from the
party in the early 1990s. They were subsequently assassinated by the
New People's Army, the CPP's armed wing.
Lawyer Jose Jalandoni, son of National Democratic Front (NDF) chief
peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni, said he was on his way to see his
client but could not confirm if the arrest of Sison was related to the
murder charges filed against the CPP founder in the Philippines.
However, Jalandoni said he did not know of any murder charges Sison is facing in The Netherlands, where the CPP founder has been living in exile since 1987.
In a separate phone interview, one of the lawyers helping work for the resumption of peace talks between the government and NDF said a judge and policemen went to Sison's house in the town of Utrecht to interrogate him.
The lawyer then said Sison was brought to The Hague, the Dutch capital.
The negotiations have been stalled for around three years because of
the inclusion of the CPP, NPA and Sison in the terror lists of the
United States, European Union and other countries.
Carl Ala, spokesman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP,
Peasant Movement of the Philippines) said Sison could be held for
three to as long as 105 days on charges of "multiple murders and for
calling for more murders."
Police also reportedly raided Sison's office in Utrecht and seized all computers, said Ala.
"They are really intensifying the attacks on progressive forces," said
Ala in a text message.
Renato Reyes, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan, New Patriotic
Alliance) secretary general said Sison's arrest showed that the
government was not interested in pushing through with the stalled
"This bodes ill for the peace process. The arrest was most probably
undertaken with the knowledge and prodding of the Arroyo government
who is out to sabotage all hopes for peace talks," said Reyes.
Originally posted at 8:13 pm
New this year is an Accomplice Award. Criteria, other details and the nomination form are available on the CAFCA website in Word (52 KB) or PDF format (65KB).
The judges for 2007 are: Laila Harre, from Auckland, National Secretary of the National Distribution Union and former Cabinet Minister; Anton Oliver, from Otago, All Black and environmentalist; Geoff Bertram, from Wellington, a Victoria University economist; Brian Turner, from Christchurch, President-Elect of the Methodist Church and social justice activist; Paul Corliss, from Christchurch, a life member of the Rail and Maritime Transport Union; and Cee Payne-Harker, from Dunedin, Industrial Services Manager for the NZ Nurses’ Organisation and health issues activist. They will be given a shortlist of finalists. The winner(s) will be announced in early 2008 at an event in Christchurch. Previous winners:
Progressive Enterprises (2006)
Bank of New Zealand and Westpac (2005)
Juken Nissho (2003)
Tranz Rail (2002)
Carter Holt Harvey (2001)
Tranz Rail (2000)
Tranz Rail (1997)
Monday, August 27, 2007
Photo by Del Abcede
Saturday, August 25, 2007
- Confidentiality surrounding news items on HIV/Aids should be maintained at all times. Therefore no names or addresses should be mentioned.
- The use of responsible language that reflects a fair and accurate account of the current situation. Past experience has shown that sensational stories on HIV/Aids distort the situation and only increase stigma and fear among readers, listeners and viewers.
- Terms such as 'victim' and 'sufferer' need to be dropped and replaced by 'people living with HIV/AIDS'. This gives the story a more positive tone.
- It is unhelpful to focus only on the latest figures for HIV/Aids. Often they are inaccurate and misleading. They provide a false sense of security and can promote complacency.
- Concentrate more on people living positively with the virus. Let them tell their story. This puts a human face on the story. This has proved far more effective in educating people.
- It is vital to include more news items on how to prevent infection and to highlight risk behaviour rather than just risk groups.
- Partnerships need to be developed between media representatives, NGOs and local organisations in the South Pacific in regard to HIV/Aids. Joining the email forum, AIDSTOK, is a practical way to discuss issues relevant to HIV/Aids.
- Encourage journalists to attend in-country training courses or workshops on HIV/Aids and other related health issues.
- Where possible, designate a journalist to work full-time on health stories and introduce a health page. Research in the Pacific has shown that when these two conditions exist, there is broader and more consistent reporting on health issues.
- Media organizations need to acknowledge and address the increasing threat posed to young people by HIV/Aids.
- Publish a correction for any story on HIV/Aids that is found to be seriously inaccurate and offensive.
- All media should encourage greater partnership with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and stress the need to include a media component in their workshops, training and National Aids Councils.
Thanks to Zoe Bake-Paterson at PIAF:
Worth a look: Whenua, fenua, enua, vanua - revolutionary anti-colonialism and anti-capitalism in the Pacific.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Fiji media inquiry hots up - PMW feedback
Friday, August 17, 2007
On Fiji matters, NZ photojourno Bruce Connew has produced an inspiring book, STOPOVER, on Fiji's indentured labour, George Speight's coup and the story of Indo-Fijian post-coup migration. Superbly designed by his wife, Catherine Griffiths, it's a must read. An exhibition of this work is scheduled for PATAKA, Porirua, Wellington, New Zealand, from August 26, 2007.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
My own reflections were jotted down on the first day, Chris Warren's speech was inspiring and Jeremy Rose had some good stuff on Sunday. So watch for some feisty coverage in TWN this Friday. Unsurprisingly, I liked Judy McGregor's swipe at the nation's newsrooms for their "pitifully low" Maori, Pacific Island and Asian numbers - "this has been a structural, systemic problem for decades". She handed bouquets to Fairfax for its new internship diversity ratio and suggested that only Waiariki and AUT University media schools would pass an audit for diversity of selection. I'll offer a plug here for AUT - it has had a Pasifika diversity scholarship in place for several years now in partnership with PIMA - and last year the first scholarship BCS graduate was snapped up by Radio NZ, a masters graduate joined Niu FM and another masters graduate started his own Tongan-language newspaper. Plus there is also AUT's Pacific Media Centre initiative promoting independent journalism research. Cook Islands scribe Jason Brown rapped the journalists' "closed door" democracy with a criticism of the use of Chatham House Rules.
"Politics threaten media progress"
In the Christchurch Press, anti-union columnist Karl du Fresne launched into an attack on the politics of the conference. He singled out for special criticism "self-proclaimed socialist" Martin Hirst (for supporting journalists as agents of social change) and keynote speaker Equal Opportunities Commissioner Judy McGregor for being a "trenchant critic of the industry that once employed her". Pictured: Conference convenor Brent Edwards, Radio NZ's political editor and EPMU media council chair. Photo: Jimmy Joe/EPMU.