#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Australian journalist barred from Fiji

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Australian journalist barred from Fiji

Another Australian journalist has fallen foul of Fiji's illegal military government more than two years after he worked in the country.

Steve McCully, a former executive with The Fiji Times, was refused entry to the island state after arriving there as a tourist for his wedding and honeymoon.

Mr McCully, who now works for The Gold Coast Bulletin, flew into Nadi airport on Saturday afternoon only to be met by Fiji immigration officials who said he was prohibited from entering the nation, which has been under military rule since a coup in December 2006.

"I never got to see outside the airport," he said.

"They detained me at arrivals and then frog-marched me around to departures and checked me on to a flight back to Brisbane later that night.

"I was treated well, but at the same time I was given the impression that any argument would end with the police becoming involved.

"They certainly didn't care that I was there for a wedding and honeymoon."

Mr McCully said he had been allowed to use his mobile phone to contact his fiancee, a Fiji citizen, while he was held in the airport's departure lounge until the flight to Brisbane departed four hours later.

He was not allowed to talk to Fiji officials and was told he could not appeal against his exclusion.

Mr McCully was the editorial training and development manager at the News Ltd-owned Fiji Times from 2004 to 2007, when he had to leave after army strongman Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama stepped in to prevent his work permit being renewed.

Since Mr McCully left Fiji in December 2007, Commodore Bainimarama, who appointed himself Prime Minister, has deported two publishers from The Fiji Times, the publisher of the rival Fiji Sun, the Australian High Commissioner and two New Zealand High Commissioners.

"I left the country at the end of the work permit in September, but my company was still negotiating with the interim administration for its renewal so, after two weeks back in Australia, I returned to Fiji as a tourist while the talks continued," he said.

"I was not working and didn't even go into the office, but because I had the use of a company car and mobile phone, someone reported to the military that I was working.

"This totally false accusation was never queried or checked with me or The Fiji Times.

"The car and phone were given to me as a courtesy by the company so I could get around and keep in touch, in case there was a breakthrough in the negotiations and they needed me urgently.

"Now I am banned indefinitely -- for life -- all because of a baseless allegation that was never checked.

"The ban has been made under a ministerial decree, which means there is no avenue of appeal."

Mr McCully said he had never been told he was on the immigration watchlist and the list is not revealed to people who make inquiries about it.

"This is typical of what this dictatorship is doing to people," he said.

Mr McCully and his fiancee were to have been married at Nausori, just outside the nation's capital of Suva.

"My fiancee's family had planned a traditional Fijian ceremony and had spent a lot of money preparing for the wedding," he said.

"She was left with everything organised but no wedding to go to, simply because someone jumped to a wrong conclusion.

"It is sad, but to be honest I would now have to say to anyone considering going to Fiji to really consider their options.

"It is a lovely place and they are great people, but the government is not to be trusted and when something goes wrong, there is no process of appeal.

"You lose all your democratic rights under a military dictatorship" - Gold Coast News


Anonymous said...

Very sad indeed bro...this is the reality of whats happening in our beloved Fiji...May God Bless you and your new wife to be...may be try and get marry at a small lovely paradise island of Cook Islands would be a better a choice...

the fiji dictator is an idiot...power hungry and greedy for wealth...his days are numbered...he will fall certainly in not a too distant future...

Anonymous said...

Steve McCully is a amiable and convivial bloke who was a fixture at a range of Suva watering holes during his time at the FT, notably the Fiji Club. Like many Australian journalists, he gained a reputation for being a loud mouth and often didn't seem to understand that success in Fiji depends on mastering the art of subtlety. It's a shame that his wedding plans have been spoiled but he was part of an editorial and management team at the FT that took on the government and lost. He needs to understand this and move on. For him to say, as he has here, that "anyone considering going to Fiji (should) really consider their options' will be seen by the regime as inciting a tourism boycott of Fiji. This is pretty provocative under the circumstances and Steve can hardly complain, having done this, that his chances of ever being able to visit Fiji are nil, at least for the foreseeable future.