The call for people to march against the military government has caused a lot of debate since the plans were revealed last week on this blog and elsewhere. Part of the reason for the controversy is the lack of information about who is behind the Sukuna Park march and what the motives are. The Fiji Democracy Freedom Movement of Australia says it is supporting the Save Fiji Movement march. Its spokesperson, Usaia Peter Waqatairewa, answers Coupfourpointfive's questions about its own march in Sydney on Sunday and the planned Fiji march.
1) Did the march in Sydney go ahead yesterday and how many people attended? Yes, the march did go ahead and about sixty people attended
2) Where did supporters come from and did they include non-Fijians, eg Australians etc? Our supporters are mainly indigenous Fijians, part Europeans and an Indofijian, plus Mark Manning
3) Does FDFM feel it achieved its goal? We have achieved our goals by having the march go ahead and later on the rally at Martin Place where we gave people the opportunity to speak out. We achieve our goals by being able to march and demonstrate against Voreqe Bainimarama’s regime on the 4th anniversary of the coup. We achieve our goals because most of us left Fiji after the coup and in this great democracy we were able to sing, march and chant out our views of not agreeing with the coup and Voreqe Bainimarama’s dictatorship. These are the things we cannot do at home. The freedom to freely express ourselves and the freedom to gather and protest peacefully, and the freedom of association as members of an organised body of people. Australians took pictures of us and people clapped in support as we walked from the town hall to Martins Place via Hyde Park and Macquarie Street, past the NSW Parliament House.
4) Regarding the Sukuna Park march:
a) Why is FDFM supporting it? We support the right for people to freely express their views and frustration with the current regime. It is the regime’s obligation to ensure their safety but not block them from the basic right to march and their right to free speech, expression, and free fathering.
b) What support is there for the march that you know of? I do not even know who is organising the march but I do support the spirit in which they want to march.
c) Some people are saying key groups like SDL and the Methodist Church are not aware of the march ... what does FDFM have to say about this? If they want to march that is their basic human rights; it is our duty as rights advocate to encourage them. If the Military wants to beat the hell out of them than that is their prerogative and they will have to face the consequence of their action on the international arena. These people are not armed and it is the military that would be the aggressor. Bainimarama and Khaiyum must be aware that the world is watching and do not regret if they end up in the ICC one day. If the Methodist Church and SDL is not aware, then they must try to be aware because if they are not going to organise a march when the people want to march, then people will form another group to do it for them.
d) Does FDFM have concerns about this? Of course, we are concerned because we are mindful of the animalistic aggressive nature of the security forces and the people illegally in charge such as Khaiyum and Bainimarama and the last thing we want to see is people getting hurt but let us not lose sight of the fact that it is the people’s right to march and the PER and this government are the illegal elements not the marchers. This is an illegal government and no one should recognise them. And they have no right to go and start beating up anyone.
3) Does FDFM know the identity of the organiser or organisers of the Save Fiji Movement? We have no idea apart from what we read on the blog.
4) Is FDFM okay about asking people to break PER by marching? We are mindful of the thugs in government and we have not nor initiated this march nor asked people to break the PER. This question should be directed towards the organisers of the march.
5) Does it have any concerns about people getting beaten or worse for attending the march? People have a right to make up their mind and march. These people are adults and can make up their own mind. Let us not patronise them. However we are very concerned that the armed thugs in government will beat them and commit further human rights atrocities. These are fathers and mothers and they have had enough of the hardship brought about by the illegal regime and one must be mindful of the fact that we are dealing with human beings. We are dealing with people who are fathers, mothers and children of someone.
6) If the military is behind the march, is this not a concern for the Secretariat? Why does the military need people to march when it has guns? That is a big concern of ours but if the military are ware and want the people to march then the split in government and the military camp is far bigger then we initially thought. There are obviously certain elements within the RFMF who have had enough and would like to indirectly tell Khaiyum and Bainimarama that they have had enough and are not prepared to do their dirty work anymore by beating up any would-be marchers.
7) Have you seen the petition that is supposedly being prepared for Nailatikau? No but we are preparing one ourselves and already we have had fifty signatures on it.
8) Does the FDFM believe Nailatikau will act on it? We don’t know but given the purported powers given to him under the Executive Authority Decree if 2009 and if he still has any conscience and morals as a high chief of Kubuna, then for once think of the people and the Vanua and do something.