In today's paper I was disturbed to read in the Fiji Times that Ecrea supports the set-up 'to move Fiji forward'.
ECREA supports Bainimarama
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Update: 10.51am WITH the launch yesterday of the People's Council that will be tasked with drafting Fiji's Charter for Change, the Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education and Advocacy (ECREA) has come out in full support of Commander Voreqe Bainimarama, who co-chairs the council with the head of the Catholic Church in Fiji Archbishop Petero Mataca.
ECREA's Semiti Qalowasa said what Commander Bainimarama has done was a good thing and it was bringing the people together. etc. etc.
So I looked up their website and this article gives a fuller account of their position so it's not as simplistic as the daily newspaper writes. The statement is a few months old but it's still relevant.
Written by admin
Thursday, 26 July 2007
THE Ecumenical Centre for Research, Education & Advocacy (ECREA) is aware of the interim administration’s struggle to move Fiji forward. We note the attempts at stabilising our economy and international relations by establishing alternate trade relationships.
We understand that the interim administration is attempting to move Fiji forward and put us on track toward the next elections.
We note the normal approach taken by them in negotiating with the unions, asking questions of high-profile civil servants and even members of boards.
We even support the concept of the People’s Charter and we look forward to continuing work with communities on leadership and voter education in time for the somewhat shifting election schedule.
At the same time we note with growing concern a mass deterioration in relationships within Fiji society brought about through the military’s insistence to continue it’s clean up in the aggressive and abrasive manner with which it began. This has engendered ongoing deep seated anxiety and frustration within civil society including the judiciary, unions and NGOs.
This concerns us: the military and its continued presence and methods to institutionalise such entities as FICAC and the subtle shift toward a possible militarised state. We are not entirely sure if or when we are going to see a conclusion to the military’s presence. While the interim administration struggles to move us toward some form of multi-culturalism amidst all the controversy, the military continues on its own particular path.
We choose to draw attention to three specific matters.
Firstly, the ongoing lack of military and therefore political will to bring justice to the families of the three men who died: Tevita Malasebe, Nimilote Verebasaga and Sakiusa Rabaka. We choose not to forget nor ignore the unresolved deaths of these men while in military and police custody. As many have more eloquently stated these men died while in custody of those sworn by oath to protect us; so here the nation watches helplessly as justice is ignored. Families are now fearful of male relatives ending up in custody somewhere or being dragged from their homes and families in the middle of the night. We pray this is not a deliberate strategy by those in charge of whichever institution to delay the delivery of justice.
Secondly, the continuous installation of military personnel in key public positions is a form of nepotism. It also raises alarms of a possible militarised state. Perhaps this needs to be looked at from the perspective of civil society: it does not augur well for any military person to be in such positions for we are essentially still a civilian state.
This continuous installing, albeit through seemingly transparent channels, of military personnel into such key positions indicates two things: (a) perhaps a growing sense of paranoia within the military which they are attempting to alleviate by installing in such positions persons trustworthy to them or (b) a deliberate strategy by the military to turn Fiji into a fully militarised state.
Finally, the travel bans imposed on certain members of Fiji civil society: this not only reflects malice and spite but also abuse of freedoms. We are interested to know how the travelling of an individual out of Fiji would adversely affect the work of moving Fiji forward?
When the military finally removed the SDL government they cited multi-racial and justice reasons.
Perhaps it is important for us all to understand that justice works both ways. While in power SDL policies were indeed racially divisive for example the Affirmative Action and the Reconciliation Tolerance and Unity Bill. SDL deliberately set about using the race card to gain support and they succeeded through the elections. Every Fiji citizen, especially the marginalised among us, suffered, and was going to suffer more had they been in power to implement VAT increases.
The unique situation before us now is that the military itself appears to be promoting a slanted version of justice and there needs to be caution exercised by them. Violence should not be used to settle violence as every peace builder knows; neither can injustice be settled with injustice.
There is much confusion around the manner in which Fiji will move forward. The thinking illustrated by the military and their supporters is that the clean up will provide hope for the future, that this military takeover is what Fiji needs to set us on the right path. It is difficult to see where Fiji is heading at present. Our people are struggling to find hope for the future in this confusing situation.
We need to understand that nation building rests on relationships, good life-giving relationships that are deliberately nurtured and maintained. Business people understand this very well as it is a form of survival for them.
The past few months have seen a breakdown in relationships from families, villages, to unions and sadly our judiciary brought about by this military clean up. With each person removed from office, stopped from leaving the country, murdered in police, or military custody, a seed of hatred is sown.
This seek will bear fruit no matter how much anyone tries to convince themselves that the cause justifies the means.
Rev Tevita Banivanua is the Chair of the Executive Forum of ECREA
REV TEVITA BANIVANUA
Last Updated ( Monday, 17 September 2007 )